End of an era: Adieu to Alfred Perera, a veteran radio broadcaster, journalist, and actor
Mr. Alfred Perera (1929-2022), a veteran radio broadcaster, journalist, and actor passed away on the 20th of November, 2022 after a brief illness. He lived fruitful 93 long years, leaving an indelible mark in his chosen field.
His remains were laid to rest at the Dalugama cemetery after the final blessings at St. Francis de Sales church on the 22nd of November amidst a large gathering including clergy and friends.
He was born on the 22nd of October, 1929 to a catholic family in Dalugama, Kelaniya. He was brought up as a devout catholic.
Having obtained his preliminary education at Francis Catholic School in Dalugama he joined St. Joseph’s College, Maradana for higher studies. After completing his HSC he furthered his language skills including Pali and Sanskrit at the Vidyalankara Pirivena, the then-famous Buddhist education institute. Alfred was fortunate to learn these eastern languages under the tutelage of Most Ven. Yakkaduwe Pannarama thero.
After completing his studies Alfred began his career as an assistant English teacher in 1950. Young Alfred, a man with a good aesthetic sense, also had good humor and a knack for media.
Then he joined Radio Ceylon in 1952. Later he joined the Parliament staff as an English/ Sinhala translator in 1958. During this period he rendered his services to many Government ministries.
While he was serving in Radio Ceylon, he produced and directed the most famous satirical drama "Vinoda Samaya" with Berty, Samuel, and Annesley trio which became overnight a hit.
The program was embraced by the listeners of Radio Ceylon instantly. It was enjoyed by the elite of society as well as the ordinary folk. Even the Prime Minister enjoyed it.
In 1969 he was fortunate to translate into Sinhala instantly the epic story of Neil Armstrong landing on the moon for the first time in human history, from a live English broadcast by the Voice Of America radio service. Alfred considered it one of the most memorable events in his life.
In 1986 he embarked on a new mission, as the Sinhala Program producer and commentator at 'Radio Veritas', the Catholic Radio Station based in Manila, Philippines at the invitation of Bishop Oswald Gomis, the Auxiliary Bishop Of Colombo Archdiocese. From Radio Veritas he was able to broadcast the Good News - the Word of God - through short wave radio to his own people back in Sri Lanka.
He always believed that all his talents were gifted to him by Lord God. Therefore he should serve mankind in return.
Veteran actor and comedian Wilson Gunaratna recalled that Alfred had a generous heart. When they were young lads they had a music band. ' Alfred aiya came to know about this and invited us to Radio Ceylon. Then he requested us to play the theme music of Vinoda Samaya and broadcast it over the radio. “It was a shot in the arm for youngsters like us”, he said.
Senior artiste Sathischandra Edirisinha who is also from the same area said: “Alfred was a pioneer who made satirical comedy popular over the radio. He was involved in various social service activities in the area especially connected with the church. His death signals the end of an era".
This multifaceted character, Mr. Alfred Perera, who had lived a colorful life has left us to join his contemporaries, who were predeceased, at God's vineyard. It is a vacuum that cannot be filled for a long time.
Goodbye Alfred. May the turf lie lightly over you!
- Hemantha Perera
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.