Jan 04, 2018

'When memory dies' Sivanandan no more

JDS is deeply saddened to announce the passing away of Ambalavaner Sivanandan, a Ceylonese who was a key activist and thinker in the struggle against racism in Britain.

Sivanandan who left Ceylon, renamed as Sri Lanka, for the UK following the anti-Tamil riots in 1958 passed away in his Potters Bar home North of London, a few weeks after his 94th birthday.

His widely read novel 'When Memory Dies', a three-generational saga of a Tamil family's search for coherence and continuity in a country broken by colonial occupation won the 1998 Commonwealth Writers' Prize in the Best First Book category for Europe and South Asia and the annual Saga award, given to first-time black authors.

'Clarity and moral authority'

He has also written widely on racism, capitalism, police brutality and black anti-racist struggle in Britain, with many of those essays appearing in his book, 'Catching History on the Wing'.

“As an essayist, Sivanandan is in a class of his own: his wit, clarity and moral authority place him in the company of the exalted writers of the genre,” says British journalist Melissa Benn.

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) that publish ‘Race & Class’ prides on the perspectives introduced by Sivanandan in the 70s to remain a cutting-edge think tank while positioning itself between academia and the grassroots.

He retired from IRR a few years ago.

Sivanandan was one of the rare Sri Lanka Tamil immigrants who viewed the former colonial rulers of the western democracy, where he chose to live, as part of the problem than solution.

Siva leaves behind his wife Jenny Bourne and Children Tamara, Natasha and Rohan.