Notes

December 1920 (Notes)

Video Broadcast : #002

Text Update : January 16, 2021

In December 1920, there were three significant events.

  • On December 1, 1920, Rangoon University was established with Rangoon College and Judson College as the constituent colleges.
    The colleges are also known by other names (e.g. Government College, Baptist College)
  • On December 5, 1920, the First RU Students’ Strike took place.
    They protested the 1920 Rangoon University Act as too narrow and restrictive.
  • In December 1920, Saya U Ba Toke was born as a Phwa Bet Taw of the above two.
    For some reason, there is a discrepancy between Saya’s official DOB (Date of Birth) and true DOB.

Rangoon University (RU)

  • Initially had eight departments (including Law)
  • Initially had six professors
  • RU gradually extended its offerings (beyond Science and Arts)
  • In particular, the opening of engineering classes was planned around 1923 and executed in 1924.
  • In 1927, the first batch of engineering students (who had Bachelors degree) graduated with the “accelerated courses” option.
  • In 1928, the second batch of engineering students (who joined after finishing the I.Sc.) graduated.
  • RU was closed from 1942 to 45.
    RU Silver Jubilee was not celebrated as a high-key event.
  • RU celebrated the Golden Jubilee (GJ) in 1970.
    Dr. Aung Gyi (Professor of Civil Engineering) and U Thet Lwin (Burmese saya at the Institute of Economics) were some of the GJ organizers.
    The RIT Ah Nu Pyinnya Shins took part in the GJ Entertainment Program as “Swel Daw Yeik Troupe“.
    The term “Swel Daw Yeik” became synonymous with RIT [its predecessors and its successors].
    Swel Daw Yeik Ah Nyeint (with Minthamees and Lu Shwin Daws) and Htee Yein (RIT Belles with colorful Parasols) were hits at the GJ celebration.
    I was a volunteer member of the “Zay Nay Yar Cha Hta Yay” subcommittee headed by Saya U Hla Tun Aung (Geography).
    Those who applied for stalls and/or stage included Actor Maung Maung Tar (promoting his make up) and the then amateur band “Playboys” requesting a “high” stage (for security concerns).
  • RU celebrated the Diamond Jubilee in 1995.
  • RU celebrated the “Yar Pyie Ah Kyo” in December 2019.
    The opening song was “Mya Kyun Nyo” composed by Maung Ngwe Hlinne (Saya U Thet Lwin).
  • RU Centennial Celebrations were planned for November and December of 2020.
    Due to the pandemic, many events were held virtually.
    Kyemon and Myanar Ah Lin newspapers featured articles about RU.
    The TV stations featured interviews, songs …

First RU Students’ Strike

  • Eleven “senior” students led the Boycott of the Rangoon University Act of 1920.
  • They were unhappy with the restrictions of the RU Act and decided to hold a boycott (strike) on December 7, 1920.
  • Due to a news leak, the protests were moved to December 5, 1920.
  • The strike resulted in the establishment of Amyotha Kyaung (National Schools) and Amyotha Kaw Leik (National College).
    The event is celebrated as Ah Myo Tha Aung Pwe Nay (National Day).
    The Burmese date (10th Waning day of Tazaungmon) is used for the Celebration.
  • Arzani U Razak was an early graduate of the National College. He served as Principal of a National School in Mandalay.
    He became Minister of Education in Bogyoke Aung San’s cabinet.
  • Prime Minister U Nu, United Nations Secretary General U Thant and Ahmyotha Pyinnya Wun / Educator / Writer U Po Kyar are notable sayas from the National Schools.
  • The boycott was responsible for the amendments to the RU Act.
    e.g. opening of schools for engineering and medicine,
  • A pillar was set up on Shwe Dagon Pagoda in memory of the Boycott.

Sayagyi U Ba Toke (Dec 26, 1920 – Dec 2, 2020)

  • He is one of the oldest and senior sayas.
    Some senior sayas (e.g. Anne Sine) passed away in early 2020.
  • Received A.M (Master of Arts in Mathematics) from Harvard University.
  • Served as Assistant Lecturer, Lecturer and Professor of Mathematics at RU and RASU.
  • Promoted to Rector, MASU.
  • With his own volition, he transferred to RIT as Professor of (Engineering) Mathematics.
  • As a Saya of engineering sayas (e.g. Dr. Aung Gyi, U Min Wun and U Khin Aung Kyi), he was invited to attend SPZP-2000 and give a speech.
  • Saya attended all SPZPs except SPZP-2002 (which he had to forgo due to Sayagadaw’s health).
  • Played Chinlon and Soccer.
  • Co-chair of RU Sports Council
    Managed the Soccer program.
  • Headed the Burmese delegation to the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
  • Until his 80s, Saya was active
    (e.g. walk to Shwe Dagon Pagoda with his dhamma friends).
  • In his 90s, Saya had physical limitations, but his mental faculty was strong as ever.
  • Saya Dr. Khin Maung Swe (Tekkatho Maung Thin Char, GBNF) interviewed Saya.
    Sayama Daw Myint Myint Khaing (daughter of Arzani Mahn Ba Khaing) transcribed the tapes.
    The book covering Sayagyi’s Life Journey was published by the RU Thin Char Mi Thar Su for Sayagyi’s 80th birthday.
  • Sayagyi gave me an autographed copy.

Two Sayagyis

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is u-ba-toke-u-ba-than.jpg
Saya U Ba Than paying respect to Sayagyi U Ba Toke
  • Pu Zaw Pwe (PZP) — paying homage to mentors — is a noble tradition.
    They are also known as Saya Pu Zaw Pwe and Acariya Pu Zaw Pwe.
  • There have been micro-PZPs, mini-PZPs and grand PZPs.
  • Saya U Ba Than (born on October 2, 1930) usually visits and pay homage to his saya Sayagyi U Ba Toke at least once every year.

Paying homage to Sayagyi U Ba Toke

  • During my visits to Yangon, I paid homage to Sayagyi U Ba Toke.
  • On one visit, Sayagyi gave me an autographed copy of “Life Journey of Mathematics Professor Sayagyi U Ba Toke”.
    The book was written by Saya Dr. Khin Maung Swe (Tekkatho Maung Thin Char, GBNF) based on his interviews with Sayagyi U Ba Toke.
    It also covers the early Thin Char Sayagyis.
    The book was published by Rangoon University Thin Char Mi Thar Su for Sayagyi’s 80th birthday.
  • In January 2017, Pansy Ba Toke (Thynn Thynn, ChE 74) asked her son-in-law and daughter to pick up Sayagyi U Ba Than, Saya U Tin Htut and me at Winner Inn to see her father Sayagyi U Ba Toke.
    Sayagyi had some problems with mobility and vision, but his mind remains crisp and clear.
  • Pansy was a member of the Swel Daw Yeik “Htee Yein” at the Rangoon University Golden Jubilee in 1970.
    She has offered transportation to the Sayas who want to visit her father.
  • Sayagyi sometimes defer celebrating his birthday so that his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren — far and near — could join the celebration.
  • Sayagyi is pre-deceased by
    his beloved spouse
    his second son (Soe Win, 6th out of his 8 children)
    his second daughter (Kitty, 3rd out of his 8 children)

Categories: Notes, Video

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