Arthur C Clarke influenced generations of people all over the world with his sci-fi writings. Nirmal is one of them...and he has some fond memories and some tears....

[ROCHE CAIMAN 20/03/2008] One of my heroes Arthur. C. Clarke, world famous science and science-fiction writer, visionary and communication pioneer, died at his home in Sri Lanka on Wednesday this week. He was 90. An avid fan of Sci-Fi books and magazines I started reading Arthur. C. Clarke’s works in my early teens. His most famous novel, "2001: A Space Odyssey," established an entire new genre of stories.  I was therefore over the moon (excuse the pun) when I was offered the chance to meet him in Sri Lanka in the 1970’s.

 I was on my way back to University and had to transit in Colombo. A family friend put me in touch with Rodney Jonklass, a world leader in fish identification and marine aquarium development (and actor in the shark movie “Blue Water White Death” which was partially shot in Seychelles).

 Whilst Rodney was showing me some of the new equipment he had invented he casually mentioned that he was going over to see his old friend Arthur. C. Clarke. He asked me to come along. I spent some hours in the company of Arthur. C but unfortunately he was suffering from breathing problems and could not take up Rodney’s offer to go snorkeling with us.

 Although still writing Sci-Fi novels till his death, Arthur. C. Clarke was also fascinated by marine conservation, something few people outside Sri Lanka seem to know about him. Arthur. C had in fact moved to Sri Lanka because of his interest in diving.  Back in 1959, he formed the diving company Underwater Safari which pioneered underwater eco-tourism in Sri Lanka. Since 1984 he was confined to his wheelchair with Post-Polio Syndrome but still managed to go diving.

 Speaking at Arthur. C’s 90th birthday in December last year, the President of Sri Lanka asserted that Arthur. C had predicted the dangers of unregulated development and worked closely with the Sri Lankan government to formulate laws and policy for coastal zone management. He waged a long-standing personal crusade to save the coral reefs around Sri Lanka, under threat from coral mining and dynamiting.

 Arthur. C. Clarke used his outstanding communications skills and influence in support of a variety of conservation causes in Sri Lanka. One of his greatest achievements in conservation was to persuade the government to designate the Hikkaduwa marine reserve, the country’s first marine sanctuary.

For us in Seychelles his emphasis on the ocean is understandable. For the rest of the world, it should be easy to understand if one remembers one of Arthur. C. Clarke’s more famous maxims: "How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean." [ENDS]

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