Leonard Woolf: He penned his love for Sri Lanka in ‘Village in the Jungle’
Realising the inconvenience and issues faced by villagers who were involved in chena cultivation, he, while holding the colonial administrative office in Hambantota, fought for the rights of villagers, when the colonial Government attempted to impose legal barriers on chena cultivation.
He understood the pathetic plight of poor villagers whose sole sustenance was chena and paddy cultivation. Woolf had recorded in his diaries that rice was very valuable for villagers because they were able to obtain rice once in five years - only when village tanks were filled up following rains.
In his diaries and novels, Woolf mentioned that malaria was the scourge of rains which tolled the death knell for the village. Though he is not among us today, his novel ‘Village in the Jungle’ which revolves around the jungle and the villagers with whom he shared memories will live in our hearts forever.
Woolf arrived in Ceylon in 1904 and worked for three years in Hambantota. After 50 years, Wolf had said he was glad to meet villagers and officers with whom he had worked for many years. As the Assistant Government Agent of Hambantota, he closely associated with many mudliyars and village headmen. Some of the villages which he mentioned in his famous novel, are still existing though most of the characters are no more.