Sarath Amunugama, our father, is a Sri Lankan national icon. He is well known in the country for his contribution as a public servant, a scholar, a media specialist and a politician.
Our father has always maintained that his achievements were made possible by the excellent education that he was lucky enough to obtain. He is fascinated by ideas and intellectual debate. His father, our grandfather Walter Muthu Banda Amunugama, himself was fortunate to catch the eye of his maternal uncle H.B. Ellepola who was one of the earliest Sinhalese to become an Inspector of Police. Ellepola had married an heiress connected to the Attygalle family of Madapatha. As they had no children, they had brought up our grandfather in a state of affluence which would not have been possible in his native village in Harispattuwa. Thus the Amunugama household always had a culture of hybridity which was characteristic of most leading Kandyan homes.
Our grandfather was educated at St. John’s College, Panadura when, under its Principal Cyril Jansz, it was one of the most outstanding colleges in the country. He was a champion athlete of the College and one of the best long distance runners of his time. After leaving school he entered a training college for rural education run by Dr. & Mrs. Spencer Hatch in South India. He then joined the Ceylon Light Infantry under Richard Udugama who was at that time a Captain. He married Soma Nilmalgoda of Kegalle in I938. Our grandmother was one of the earliest teachers trained at Musaeus College, to start a teaching career in the hill country. Thus familiarity of both Sinhala and English as home languages was to become a great advantage to our father right throughout his life.