Beloved Past Visakhian Sumana Saparamadu no more

Veteran journalist Sumana Saparamadu passed away on Friday (15) April 22, 2016, ending an era of a few women journalists who dared to 'invade' the then male bastion of journalism.

Born in 1924 to Don Charles Saparamadu, an apothecary and Somawathie Silva, she received her early education at Visakha Vidyalaya, Colombo. After graduating from the University of Colombo, she pursued her post-graduate studies in Sociology at the University of Sydney, Australia. On her return to the island she worked as a lecturer in the Sociology Department of the Peradeniya University for about one and a half years. Sumana had a brief stint at the Sinhala Dictionary project under Prof. Ratnasinghe.

As destiny would have it, she gave up University lectureship and took to journalism, her forte. It was due to her fortuitous encounter with the then Lake House Chairman and Managing Director Esmond Wickremesinghe while pursuing post-graduate studies in Australia that she was appointed a feature writer to the Janata, ANCL's evening daily in 1955.

"It was only when we entered the Colombo University that we got the opportunity to move with our male counterparts. We were brought up in our young days in an air of strict discipline," she reminisced.

Around 1977 she returned to Lake House to assume duties as Editor of the Tharuni, which she held for over 24 years. She also worked in the Mihira newspaper. Her Silumina column under the pen name, Saradu became popular among the readership. Her contemporaries were media stalwarts such as Meemana Prematilleke, Raja Thilakaratne, Sybil Wettasinghe, Vijitha Fernando, Ranjee Handy, Lalitha K. Vithanachchi and Pinto.

After leaving Lake House, she contributed regularly to the Observer, Silumina and the Junior Observer.

Vikata Enduma, Rathu Bicykalaya, Ran Ethanage Podi Duwa and Nalapana were some of the children's books authored by her. Writing, the nitty-gritty of journalism was the panacea for all her ills. Her enduring stamina was such that she worked as Chief Matron of Visakha Vidyalaya even in her advanced age. After retirement she devoted herself to social activities, teaching English to children and at one-time running a pre-school at Katana.

"Work yourselves hard to achieve success," was her guiding advice to children.

Credits: Sunday Observer dated 17th April 2016