We are glad to see the group “Gangaw Myay (Hnit Taya Pyie Tekkatho)” — formed to prepare for the Centennial Celebrations of the University of Rangoon — grow fast both qualitatively and quantitatively.
There are close to 1000 members at this time of writing.
Many are active members, who are exuberant to share artifacts (dating back to the 1930s), rare and precious photos, anecdotes (including achievements and missteps) and their walks down memory lane.
Several have provided invaluable feedback.
Three events took place in December 1920.
After years of yearning for an independent University in Burma, the Rangoon University Act of 1920 resulted in the establishment of the University of Rangoon with Rangoon College and Judson College as the constituent colleges.
Several students were unhappy with the restrictions and decided to hold a boycott (strike) on December 7, 1920. Someone leaked the news, so the protests started on December 5, 1920. The strike resulted in the establishment of Ah Myo Tha Kyaung (National Schools) and Ah Myo Than Kaw Leik (National College). The event is celebrated at Ah Myo Tha Aung Bwe Nay.
Saya U Ba Toke was born as a Phwa Bet Taw of RU and the First RU Student Strike. He had a glorious career as a scholar, administrator and athlete. He is the saya of most sayas and early engineering students (including Saya Dr. Aung Gyi). He was an outstanding footballer and later managed the RU and Burma Olympic Teams. Saya Dr. Khin Maung Swe (Maung Thin Char) interviewed Sayagyi and recorded six audio tapes. Sayama Daw Myint Myint Khaing (daughter of Arzani Mahn Ba Khaing) transcribed the tapes. Saya added information about the early RU and Sayagyi’s contemporaries in the book (presented to Sayagyi as the 80+ birthday present from the RU Thin Char Ah Thinn). Sayagyi gave me an autographed copy of the book during one of my visits to pay Garawa to him.
Proud and Happy Family
Some like Dr. Nyi Thet Lwin (Group Admin) are blessed to born on the Main Campus. He created the site because he wanted to learn first hand accounts about the University of Rangoon and its descendants (e.g. RASU, Institute of Medicine, Institute of Economics, Institute of Education, and Engineering School (which was renamed as BIT, RIT, YIT and YTU).
“Nyi Nyi” is the proud son of Saya Dr. Soe Win who stood First in Burma in the Matriculation of 1958, and Sayama Daw May Saw Lwin. Saya and Sayama are among the honored to call the Campus their home.
He is the proud father of Ei Lwin, who achieved grade 9 in all of the nine subjects that she sat in the recent, 2019, GCSE exams. Following grandpa’s footsteps almost sixty years later!
U Aung Mon, his elder brother, was an organizer for EcE (Electronics Engineering) Reunion and SPZP.
The family photo was taken at the Diamond Jubilee in 1995. U Aung Mon was then a RIT student. Nyi Nyi was attending IM(1).
At St. Paul’s High School, his grandfather Saya Sein taught Burmese to Saya U Thet Lwin (Ngwe Hlinne, Composer of “Mya Kyun Nyo Nyo Kun Yeik Kho“). The song was first recorded as a “Dat Pya” at Myanmar Ah Than (Burma Broadcasting Service). Saya received 100 Kyats for his composition, and he treated his fellow Ah Nu Pyinnya Shins. The song was first sung by U Mya Thein and group. The song was played by Saya for a TV interview. It was also sung by the RIT Ah Nu Pyinnya Shins in Singapore (fondly known as the “Pon Chan Chan Group” led by Don Min U Yu Swan). The various versions can be listened from the posts.
Tears of Joy and Sorrow
The posts have invoked tears of joy as well as tears of sorrow.
Many were happy to see Thit Pope Pinn being recognized by the Yangon Heritage Society. The tree was there even before the founding of the University of Rangoon, and it survived Cyclone Nargis.
A few readers — notably Shwe Pho Kyu, the Old Wise man and Poet — expressed displeasure to see the wired fences and the inexplicable disappearance of landmarks.
The Convocation Hall is another land mark. Eons ago, the Prime Minister of the Union of Burma served as Chancellor of the University of Rangoon, and also delivered “Commencement Speech” at the graduation.
I posted the program of the 1958 Convocation which listed about 30 prize winners (Gold Medals, Silver Medals and Books). Saya U Soe Paing, my mentor at RIT and UCC, received two Gold medals (after paying 150 Kyats for each Gold Medal, because the original endowments no longer covered the “rising cost” of Gold for the Medals).
Saya Kha’s Family
Saya Dr. Maung Maung Kha, Saya Dr. Tha Hla and Saya Dr. Hla Myint were some of the early Burmese State Scholars sent to the UK for their Doctorates. The sayas served as Professors and as Rector of the University of Rangoon.
Saya Kha attended the Regattas at Rangoon University Boat Club and presented the trophies to the winning teams. I was a Master of Ceremonies at several regattas. I am a Life Member of RUBC, and the last Executive Committee member to be democratically elected at the General Meeting. I served as Honorary Treasurer and Vice Captain, but the higher authorities changed the rules and prevented me from becoming Captain.
Dr. Alvin Oke Soe Kha is the son of Sayagyi Dr. Maung Maung Kha. He was selected for the first Lu Ye Chun Camp in the summer of 1964. In the following year, the Lu Ye Chun Program was extended to the students of Universities and Institutes. The Program ended in 1988. A few years back, an association was formed for the Lu Ye Chuns from 1964 to 1988. There have been formal and informal Reunions of the Lu Ye Chuns.
Oke Soe Kha had mixed emotions after reading the posts of Dr. Jillian Phyu Maung, grand daughter of Saya U Aung Khin (former Professor of Chemistry). He was sad to know that his former classmate and neighbor Maureen Aung Khin (Jillian’s mother) of left this world at an early age. He was glad to hear that his best friend Robert Aung Khin (Jillian’s uncle) is alive and well.
He also shared two sweet memories.
He experienced first hand Saya U Ba Kyi (renowned artist) sing his beautiful translation of “Hna Yauk Hte Nay Chin Dei” to the accompaniment of the violin by Saya Dr. Maung Maung Kha.
He was proud to disclose that his mother Sayama Daw Ruby Kha was National Tennis Champion of Mixed Doubles with Joe Ba Maung.
Saya Joe Ba Maung was Singles Champion and also Men’s Doubles Champion with U Than Lwin. Saya Joe taught English at RIT before transferring as Manager to Burma Railways. He managed the Sports Program of Burma Railways. Sadly, he was one of the early casualties of 8-8-88 movement.
Many posts expressed nostalgia. Some felt rejuvenated.
Ma Chit Swe (Hazel Kyaw Zaw‘s mother) was a Junior I.A. (Intermediate of Arts) student in 1936. Hazel has posted her mother’s autograph.
Daw Hla Myint, a close friend of Hazel’s mom, wrote a lovely poem. Many were unaware of her talent. She had to leave the University before graduation to get married to U Tu Maung. Saya U Tu Myint (Winston) was our saya at RIT and later taught at Singapore Polytechnic until retirement. Dr. Hla Maung (Ronald, MEHS65) moved to the UK. Aunty’s siblings include Dr. Pe Nyun (Pediatric Surgeon, who led the operation of conjoined twins Ma Nan Soe and Ma Nan San) and Dr. Pe Thein (Professor and Retired Minister).
Pat Tin-Win had the courage to request Sayagyi Dr. Ba Than (who was Medical Superintendent of the Japan Khit Say Yone Gyi, and later founded the Zwe Ah Nyeint at IM) to play Myamangiri on the harp, and allow the recording to be used for her friend Rosie to dance at the 1964 Chemistry Fresher Welcome.
Several yearn for the decent food (e.g. Mohinga, Nangyi thoke, Than Bu) that could be obtained at the Canteens for less than a Kyat, and the strong buying power in the good old days before indiscriminate demonetization.
Some (e.g. Saya U Khin Zaw) remember how the Collegians dressed nicely even before going to the dining hall, and much more elegantly before visiting the Ladies’ Halls.
The ladies and even the young girls (e.g. residents of Bagan Road) sported Burmese attire.
Miss University Pageant was a display of pristine form and beauty. Daw Thitsar Lwin posted beautiful photos of her mother Daw Mary Soe Yin (Miss University for 1958 – 59).
A few shared their “Top Secret — Bottom Open” moments (e.g. Male students entering a Ladies’ Toilet / Rest room, attending a class for another Section, signaling to fellow hostel students the presence/absence of Hall Tutors and Wardens).
Those who chose to stay in hostels have fond memories of the various functions (e.g. by Thahaya and Sar Phutt Ah Thinn — Social and Reading Clubs), the Inter-Hall and Inter-Institute Sporting Events (e.g. at Aung San Stadium), and picnics (for students of a Town or District).
Per Daw Nyunt Nyunt Tin, she was a Day Scholar, but she spent a lot of time at Marlar Hall (known not just for beauties but for the excellent sports teams).
A few tried Rowing at the Rangoon University Boat Club (RUBC), but gave up.
Some remember the musical evenings and nights by Pho So Chins. Tekkatho Tun Naung (then a student of Dental College) would play mandolin in front of the Ladies’ Halls (e.g. Inya Saung). He would later co-found the Stereo Khit.
A senior alumni (e.g. Khin Nyo) recalled how the Conductors on the Naga (Dragon) Line Buses were cordial.
The later buses would have Numbers instead of Pictures. Some believe that the change of the Bus Signs is one of the Yadayas of the higher authorities. Other Yadayas include the printing of non-standard denomination notes (e.g. K15, K35, K45) and abruptly changing to “Nyar Lann Maung” (without changes to the cars and streets).
Sayama Daw May Saw Lwin remembered her days at Yankin College where Saya U Ba Toke (who was born in December 1920 as a Phwa Bet Taw of the University of Rangoon, and the First RU Students Strike) would address the students as “Ladies and Gentlemen”.
Metta and Cetana
Many are proud of their alma mater, which had produced sons and daughters who excelled not only in academia — in Burma/Myanmar and beyond — but also in Sports, Ah Nu Pyinnya and Public Service.
The not so young students appreciate the Metta and Cetana of their mentors (sayas and sayamas).
There have been Acariya Pu Zaw Pwes and Saya Pu Zaw Pwes.
One such gathering hosted by the Chemistry alumni showed the elderly sayas and sayamas (who are 70+ years young) on the Stage, and those (who are 60+ years young) in front.
I was fortunate to be an organizer for the RIT Grand Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwes. The first SPZP was held in San Francisco, California, USA in 2000. The Singapore alumni hosted the SPZPs in 2002, 2007 and 2010. The Myanmar alumni hosted the SPZPs in 2004, 2012 and 2016. The next SPZP will be held in 2020.
The precious memories are shared by alumni — young and old, far and near, weak and strong — via pictures, anecdotes, poems (in both Burmese and English).
Sharing is Caring
There are many Subject Matter Experts (SME) in the group. They can share their knowledge, experience and wisdom.
Several others (who may not have yet joined the group) have blogs sharing their expertise. To name a few, they include
- U Win Thein (Mathematics, SLR, Management) is writing with the pen name Padamya Win Htein)
- U Myint Thein (Geology, Underground water resources)
- Dr. Khin Maung U (Retired FDA researcher, Medical reports)
- Dr. Nyunt Wai (Retired from IM and Malaysia, Articles, poems and paintings)
- Saya U Moe Aung (Tekkatho Moe War, Poems, Articles, Electrical Safety)