Great men don’t die, they fade…

Mangala Samaraweera was a true champion of unity and communal harmony in Srilanka.

I remember vividly in 2019, I was traveling through Matara with a friend and colleague when we with very short notice dropped by to meet him at his residence.

We were warmly greeted by his sister. And lunch was served.

The rice and curry was a speciality meal called “Kiddu Soru,” a traditional Muslim meal. 

Mangala proceeded to explain that the meal was provided that Fay by a muslim family he had known for long. This gesture of his receiving, coupled with the hospitality we experienced moved me.

There was no airs or pretense in him when he acknowledged the humanity of all. He was a genuine champion of diversity and national unity.

He had the remarkable courage to challenge those who promoted division in the country. He even called out the powerful Buddhist clergy to the true Buddhist teachings of metta and karuna.

Years later, I developed a cordial relationship with him.

We would text each other and communicate occasionally. 

I was ecstatic when he launched his movement for social justice. 

Like so many who were witnessing the country plunging into darkness, it was a welcome and promising move to see Mangala lead this movement. It gave us grassroots activists renewed hope and possibility. 

A few days before his sudden passing, I shared with him the need to organize the community and build grassroots movements.

He wrote back acknowledging the need to do so adding that he looked forward to collaborating.

Growing up, I have often heard the adage, “Man proposes, God disposes.” 

Mangala I believe was a powerful politician and visionary who could have singlehandedly, steered the course of our country’s history. 
He had the capacity and tenacity to let go of the past and create a new vision for our country and people.

But fate played the cruelest trick on him and us, when his life was cut off abruptly.

Great men don’t die, they fade.

Forever he will live in our bruised hearts.

As I pen these lines I hope we will meet again in samsara to ignite a dying democracy and a distraught citizenry with renewed hope and possibility.

Soraya M Deen
Community Organizer

Thank you

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