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5 November, 2017 11:21:57 AM

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A modern epic for the oppressed people of the world

In the present world situation the 7th March speech by Sheikh Mujib is still relevant and will remain so in the future as well
Abdul Gaffar choudhury
A modern epic for the oppressed people of the world

The speech which has revived a nationhood was at last recognized as a world heritage by the world body, UNESCO. This recognition was due a long time ago but after his assassination in 1975 he was so much maligned throughout the world by his killers-an unholy political alliance, that it took a long time to understand Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s greatness as a man and a politician.

Before its recognition, this speech reached the world population who recognized it as a great speech and an incentive for the people of the world to continue their struggle against all sorts of tyranny. A decade ago I was in Gettysburg in America and visited the monument from where President Lincoln delivered his historic speech. His utterances still reverberate throughout the world and has helped to create a new democratic world.
I met a young American journalist there who was associated with a local popular newspaper and we dined together in a century old restaurant which was famous for its association with Lincoln. I told the American journalist that when our father of the nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was delivering his 7th March speech (1971) in Dhaka, I, then a fortunate young journalist, was present in the meeting. That time I did not realize that the man who was delivering the speech would occupy a place beside leaders like Lincoln and this speech like Lincoln's immortal speech would become a world heritage.

My journalist friend replied, "I am not a fortunate journalist like you. Long before my birth Lincoln was the President of America and delivered his great Gettysburg speech. Nevertheless, I am proud that I was born in the country of this great statesman. But you are fortunate, you have seen your nation builder, his fight for independence and were present in the meeting where he declared independence for your country. On 7th March 1971 you were present in a meeting where not only the history of the subcontinent but the whole of Asia was taking new shape. He was assassinated like Gandhi and Lincoln, but survived like both leaders and all conspiracies to erase his name from history has failed.’

The proof that this man not only survived but also has a place with the most celebrated world leaders is the acceptance of his 7th March speech by the world body as a world heritage. The 7th March speech in Dhaka and Lincoln's speech in Gettysburg are equally universal, but different in context. Lincoln was trying to prevent a Civil war and to keep the divided nations united. On the other hand, Sheikh Mujib had declared a war against a powerful military junta and to create a nation state for a culturally developed people who lost their real identity to a religious fantasy. He not only fought but gave leadership making a nation on the basis of democracy and secularism. That is why the speech Sheikh Mujib had given in Bangla language in spite of linguistic differences spread like fire and inspired millions of people in the oppressed world to rise and establish their individual identity.

Another important feature of the 7th March speech is that we will not be able to find a similar speech in the 100 year old history of the subcontinent's struggle for Independence by its celebrated leaders. Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru, Maulana Azad, C.R. Das, Fazlul Huq and others had delivered epoch making speeches from which people quote memorable lines but not one has got a world stature like the speech of 7th March. This speech has its own personality, which is nothing but the extension of Sheikh Mujib's personality and leadership. He was called the 'Friend of Bengal' (Bangabandhu). But later on he was awarded the title 'Friend of the world' (Biswabandhu) by a world body. In the recent history of the subcontinent only Tagore, the Nobel Laureate Poet was awarded the title 'Poet of the world' (Biswakabi). Very few great man of the subcontinent has achieved this honour.

More than a decade ago I was attending a peace rally in Warsaw. There were so many portraits of the peace loving world leaders including Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam, Nkrumah of Ghana, Nasser of Egypt and Nehru of India. Along with those portraits there was a big portrait of Sheikh Mujib and that portrait was garlanded by thousands of people of different countries. The two slogans which surpassed all others were for Ho chi Minh and Sheikh Mujib. Another time when I was speaking in George Washington University at Washington, in the assembly of multinational students I remember still now that one American student asked me, 'We know the name of the great leader Sheikh Mujib. But there is lack of information about his life and achievements. Among the American presidents with whom can we compare the life and struggle of Sheikh Mujib as a leader and a statesman? I was bewildered. How could I answer the question and satisfy a foreign student? Unexpectedly I found two portraits of two ex-American presidents on the conference wall. One was of George Washington and another of Abraham Lincoln. Immediately I got my answer.

I told the audience that for the American nation they got two leaders-one to achieve independence and another to keep the nation united. To keep the nation's independence and unity the latter one had to sacrifice his life. But in Bangladesh we got this struggle and achievement in one leader. He was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Like George Washington he led the war of Independence and like Abraham Lincoln to keep the independence and the unity of the nation he sacrificed his life. There was a huge applause from the audience which I did not expect.

Our celebrated poet Nirmalundu Goon described the 7th March speech as not a speech but a great epic. Sheikh Mujib was not a politician, he was a poet of politics- people's politics. In 1971 London's Sunday Times described him as a poet of politics. After his death, an African Singer sung in a London concert in English. He sang 'Africa has Nelson Mandela, Asia had Sheikh Mujib. We salute both of them, one is still living the other is dead. But in our minds he is more alive than any other leader. Sing Hai Ho. Sing Hai Ho. Mujib and Nelson will crush the oppressors of the world and our struggle for emancipation is unbeatable'.

In the present world situation the 7th March speech by Sheikh Mujib is still relevant and will remain so in the future as well. When a man like Donald Trump has risen as a new world leader and the American observers are saying it is a rise of American Fascism and militarism, we need leaders like Sheikh Mujib who not only fought against Fascism and militarism, but also succeeded to liberate his people and raised hope for the repressed world population.

London, Wednesday 1st November, 2017

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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