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22 March, 2020 12:47:15 AM

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A pale imitation, no creativity or imagination

Sheikh Mujib was not only a political leader but a political philosopher also
ABDUL GAFFAR CHOUDHURY
A pale imitation, no creativity or imagination

I had every intention to visit Bangladesh this March. This is 2020, The Mujib year.

A grand national celebration of the birth centenary of the father of the nation was held with pomp and glory. I had every intention to visit Tungipara also to pay my respect to the Father of the Nation. It was a great disappointment that I could not visit Bangladesh because of the rapid spread of corona virus. Everyone over the age of 70 is directed by the government health authority not to go out of the house. I am over 80. So the rule is even more applicable to me and I am now a house bound man. Corona virus is now everywhere, even in Bangladesh. Already one death has occurred there. It affected the celebration of the father of the nation's birth centenary. The celebration was televised and reached people through other social media. Though I am in London, I had the opportunity to witness the celebration in Dhaka.
Because I could not visit Dhaka, with a heavy heart I observed this celebration through social media. It was arranged that three or four of my friends will join me to watch it. They were two journalists from India, one Spanish teacher of Cambridge University and one drama artist from the Old Vic Theatre of London. This plan also failed for corona virus. They stayed at home and viewed the program via social media like me. I was not very satisfied with the Dhaka program. I wanted to check with those four friends of mine in London and friends from Dhaka also if they had the same impression. My conclusion is that I did not miss anything by not going to Dhaka, except my visit to Tungipara to pay respect to the father of the nation. The two hour long celebration seemed to me a dull and colourless affair and it failed to capture the great and colourful image of a great man. It could have been a celebration of any ordinary political leader who achieved political success, but it did not do justice to the Himalayan achievement of someone like Sheikh Mujib.

We four friends exchanged our views on this matter. The Spanish friend who is a Professor of Linguistics said, 'Choudhury, I'm sorry to say that it was a poor imitation of a birthday celebration of an ordinary leader. Sheikh Mujib was an outstanding leader with outstanding qualities. There was no imagination or originality in the display of the life and works of a great leader'. Another friend who is from West Bengal said, 'My comment may seem unsavoury to you. The 17th March's celebration to me was not better than the celebration of our Kolkata Mayor's birthday. Do you have no good musicians in your country who could create a vibrant background tune for this occasion? In Dhaka performance a known tune of a Kolkata artist 'Shono ekti Mujiborer konthe' was played several times as the background music of the occasion'.

Another viewer of this celebration, an Indian journalist said, 'So far I know, Sheikh Mujib was not only a political leader but a political philosopher also. He rescued the Bengali nation and their language and culture from oblivion and presented them with a political philosophy which is rare in a politician of a modern age. He was not an economist but provided the nation with a sustainable economic program. He was a versatile genius. But that was not reflected in this celebration. The program we witnessed in the social media for 2 hours was nothing but an ordinary program that could be for any ordinary political leader'. He further added, 'The performance of Akram Khan's troop and the two dances with Tagore songs, I liked. But as a whole this two hour long program was not a success or satisfactory to us'.

I regretted later that I spent two hours to watch this programme which was not worth my time. This celebration was of a man who was described by both The London and New York Times as 'a poet of politics', his greatness was derived from the culture and heritage of the soil of Bangladesh and he represented the nature and character of his country. Those who read the comments of these foreign journalists, they were dismayed to see this program which could not portray the true man that Sheikh Mujib was. I still remember when Sheikh Mujib was a young man of 29 or 30. He went to Barisal and his first enquiry was where the village of Mukunda Das is located. How far is it from the Barisal town?' When he heard that the village was only 7-8 miles away from Barisal, he immediately prepared to go there. Mukunda Das was an anti-British balladist (charon kobi) and to fight against the British rule he introduced Swadeshi Jatra.

I wonder how this happened when there were so many eminent cultural persons in Bangladesh. As far as I know they were included in the central committee of the celebration of the centenary observation committee. I, myself was also included in the committee but was never consulted or informed about the activities of this committee. I thought because I am in a foreign country and it is difficult to contact me so I was not approached by them. Now almost a dozen of the committee members informed me that they were not consulted at all either and there was one bureaucrat who seemed to dictate everything. They were also not satisfied with this program and thought that the real image of Bangabandhu was not portrayed in it properly. They also commented that only one tune of a Kolkata song was repeatedly used and songs and dances though showy, were lifeless. There were renowned artists and musicians but they could not show their full potential for the lack of consistency in the program. It was surprising that the bureaucrat who was in charge of this celebration put his song almost at the beginning of the performance. He claims to be a poet but that does not give him the authority to put his so called song in this grand national celebration of the father of the nation where there were so many poems and songs written by famous poets and lyricists. It was almost an audacity and misuse of power. The song written by the bureaucrat was poor in words and not appealing in tune.

The 17th March ceremony seemed to me as the celebration of the father of a family not the father of the nation.

London, Wednesday 18 March, 2020

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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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