262Published on March 15, 2014
He is not a mere individual. He is an institution, a movement, a revolution, an upsurge. He is the architect of a nation. He is the essence of an epic poetry and he himself is the history.
This history goes back a thousand years. This is why contemporary history has recognised him as the greatest Bengali of the past thousand years. The future will call him the champion of eternal time.
He will shine like the polestar in immaculate luminosity in the history. He will show path to the Bengali nation. The foundation of the existence of the nation is his dreams. A memory of him is the culture and society that Bengalis have sketched for them. The possibilities and the promises presented by him are the fountain—spring of the civilized existence of the Bengalis.
He is a friend to the masses. He is the Father to the nation. To other nations and foreign populaution he is the founder of sovereign Bangladesh. Journalist Cyril Dunn held of him,”In thousand year history of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujib is the only leader who is by blood, race, language, culture and birth a true Bengali. His physique was immense. His voice was profound like thunder. His charisma worked as magic on people. The courage and charm that streamed from him made him a superhuman in these times.” Newsweek magazine portrayed him as “the poet of politics”.
The leader of the British humanist movement, the late Lord Fenner Brockway once remarked, “In a sense, Sheikh Mujib is a greater leader than George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi and De Valera.” The top journalist of the new Egypt, Hasnein Heikal (former editor of Al Abram and a close associate of the late President Nasser) has said, “Nasser does not belong to Egypt only. He is the messenger of freedom for the entire Arab world. His Arab nationalism is the mesage of freedom for the Arab people. In similar fashion, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman does not belong to Bangladesh alone. He is the harbinger of freedom for all Bengalis. Bengali civilization and culture surfaced afresh from his Bengali nationalism. Mujib is the hero of the Bengalis, in the past and in the times that are”.
Embracing Bangabandhu at the Algiers Non-Aligned Summit in 1973, Cuba’s Fidel Castro noted, “I have not seen the Himalayas. But I have seen Sheikh Mujib. He is the Himalayas in personality and in courage. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas.”
Upon hearing the news of Bangabandhus assassination, former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson wrote to a Bengali journalist, “This is surely a supreme national tragedy for you. For me it is a personal tragedy of immense dimensions.” Here the term “Father of the Nation” refers to the founder of a nation-state. In Europe, national democratic aspirations have culminated into modern nationalism and the national state. Those who have provided leadership in the creation of nations or nation-states have lovingly been called by their peoples as founding fathers and have been placed on the high perch of history. That is why Kemal Ataturk is the architect of modern Turkey. And thus Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the founder of the Bengali nation-state and father of the nation to Bengalis. But in many considerations, Sheikh Mujib has been a more successful founding father than either Ataturk or Gandhi. Turkey existed even during the period of the Ottoman Empire. Once the empire fell, Ataturk took control of Turkey and had it veer away from western exploitation through shaping it to a democratic nation-state. In Gandhi’s case, India and Indians did not lose their national entity either before or after him. But once the British left the subcontinent, the existence of the Bengali nation appeared to have been wiped out.
The rulers of the new state of Pakistan renamed Bangladesh as ‘East Pakistan’ in the constitution. By pushing down a thousand-year history into the shadows, the Pakistani rulers imposed the nomenclature of ‘Pakistanis’ on the Bengalis, so much so that the phrase ‘Bengali’ or ‘Bangladesh’ amounted to sedition in the eyes of the Pakistani rulers. The first person to rise in defence of the Bengali nation, its history and heritage, was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. On 25 August 1955, he said in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, “Mr. Speaker, They (the government) want to change the name of East Bengal into East Pakistan. We have always demanded that the name ‘Bangla’ be used. There is a history behind Bangla. There is a tradition, a heritage. If this name is at all to be changed, the question should be placed before the people of Bengal whether they are ready to have their identity changed?” Sheikh Mujib’s demand was set aside. Bangladesh was renamed East Pakistan by the Pakistani rulers. Years later, after his release from the so-called Agartala conspiracy case, Sheikh Mujib took the first step towards correcting the misdeed imposed on his people. On 5 December 1969, he said, “At times, attempts were made to wipe-out all traces of history and aspirations of the Bengali nation. Except the Bay of Bengal, the term Bengal can not be found anywhere. On behalf of the people of Bengal, I am announcing today that henceforth the eastern province of Pakistan will, instead of being called East
Pakistan, be called Bangladesh”.
Sheikh Mujib’s revolution was not simply directed to achieve political freedom. Once the Bengali nation-state was established, it became his goal to carry through programmes geared to the achievement of national economic welfare. To put an end to exploitation was one underlying principle of his programme, which he called the Second Revolution. There are many who admit today that Gandhi was the originator of the noviolent non-cooperation movement, but Sheikh Mujib created history by using that principle effectively.
Mujib’s politics was a natural follow-up of the struggle and movements of Bengal’s spiritualists and religious preachers, Titumir’s crusade, the Indigo Revolt, Gandhij i’s non-cooperation and Subhash Chandra Bose’s armed struggle to achieve freedom. The secularism of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Dash, the liberal democratic politics of Sher-e-Bangla A.K. Faziul Haque and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy shape the Mujib character. He was committed to peoples’ welfare. Emerging free from the limitations of western democracy, he wished to see democracy sustain in Bengali nationalism. It was this dream that led to the rise of his ideology. At the United Nations, he was the first man to speak about his dreams and his people’s aspirations in Bangla. The language was, in that swift stroke of politics, recognised by the global community. For the first time after Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel achievement in lite rature in 1913, Bangla was put on a position of dignity.
For his struggle against imperialism and neocolonialism, Sheikh Mujib had found a golden place with the world’s great leaders — Gandhi, Tito, Nasser, Sukorno, Lumumba and Nkruma. He had sacrificed his life fighting for the dreams he had for his people. With his and family member’s blood, he had written a new the history of Bangladesh for the posterity to read. In Bangladesh, he symbolizes the red sun that sits in the centre of our national flag Banahandhu is inseparable from Bangladesh which achieved independence under his leadership. He lives like an eternal flame in the hearts of the people of Bangladesh—in its independence, language, society, culture and civilization. He had defied and conquered death.
Bangabandhu will be remembered for so many outstanding achievements in his life. The creation of Bangladesh will remain as his greatest success. His memory is everywhere-from rivers to mosques. He lives for ever in the hearts of the people of Bangladesh.
No painting, picture or photo is large enough to contain an image as colossal as Bangabandhu’s. The multifaceted life of the great man cannot be articulated and communicated in any language or colour. The reason is one; “Mujib you are greater than your creation”. Such greatness can’t be restricted to a frame. This greatness needs the wide canvas of our national spirit to express itself. Yet, there have been people who tried to portray him in language or in colour and picture. They have tried to compose the great memory of a great man memorable. This album is just one such enterprise. This album focuses on a part of Bangabandhu’s life and his work for the benefit of the posterity. Bangabandhu, the conqueror of death and darkness, had left behind a burning flame to lit our path and guide us to our future. For now and ever he remains as our liberator. No asset can be greater for the Bengalis than the ideals that Bangabandhu had passed on to us.
He lives for ever; his memory is eternal and indestructible.
Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury