Bangabandhu an architect of the nation

He  is  not  a  mere  individual. He in an institution. A movement. A revolution.  An  upsurge. He  is the architect of the nation. He is the essence of epic poetry and he is history.

This   history   goes   back   a   thousand  years. Which  is  why contemporary  history  has  recognized him as the greatest Bengali of the past thousand years. The future will call him the superman of eternal time.

And  he  will  live,  in  luminosity  reminiscent  of  a  bright  star,  in historical  legends.  He  will show the path to the Bengali nation his dreams   are   the   basis   of   the   existence   of   the  nation.  A remembrance  of  him is the culture and society that Bengalis have sketched  for  themselves.  His  possibilities,  the promises thrown forth by him, are the fountain-spring of the civilized existence of the Bengalis.

He is a   friend to the masses. To the nation he is the Father. In the view of men  and women in other places and other climes, he is the founder of sovereign Bangladesh. Journalist Cyril Dunn once said of him, “In the thousand – year history of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujib is the only  leader who has, in terms of blood, race, language, culture and  birth,  been  a  full – blooded Bengali. His physical stature was immense. His  voice  was redolent of thunder. His charisma worked magic  on  people.  The   courage  and  charm that flowed from him made him a unique superman in these times.”Newsweek magazine has called him the poet of politics.

An Architect

The leader of the British humanist movement, the  late Lord Fenner Brockway   once  remarked,  “In a sense,  Sheikh  Mujib is a great leader than George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi and De Valera.” The  greatest  journalist of  the  new Egypt, Hasnein Heikal (former editor  of  Al  Ahram  and  close   associate   of   the late President Nasser) has said, “Nasser is not simply of Egypt.  Arab  world. His Arab nationalism is the message 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 Bangalis. His  Bengali   nationalism   is   the   new   emergence   of  Bengali civilization   and  culture. Mujib  is  the hero of the Bengalis, inn 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. In personality and in courage, this man is the Himalayas. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas.

Upon  hearing  the  news  of  Bangabandhu’s 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.” Refers to the founder of a  nation – state. In  Europe,  the  outcome  of  democratic  national aspirations   has   been   the  rise  of  modern  nationalism  and the national  state. Those  who  have  provided leadership in the task of the  creation  of nations or nation-states have fondly been called by their peoples as  founding fathers and have been placed on the high perches  of  history. Such  is  the reason why Kamal Ataturk is the creator of modern Turkey. And  thus it is that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur  Rahman   is  the  founder  of the Bengali nation – state and father  of  the  nation  of his fellow Bengalis. But in more ways than one, 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 giving shape to a democratic nation – state. In  Gandhi’s case, India and  Indians  did  not lose their national status either before or after him. But once the British left the subcontinent, the existence of the Bengali nation appeared to have been blotted out.

The  new  rulers  of the new state of Pakistan called Bangladesh by the  term  “East  Pakistan”  in  their   constitution.   By   pushing a thousand – year   history   into  the   shadows,  the Pakistani rulers imposed  the  nomenclature  of  “Pakistanis”  on  the  Bengalis, so much so that using the term “Bengali” or  “Bangladesh”  amounted to sedition in the eyes of the  Pakistani  state. The first man to rise in defense of the Bengali, his  history and his heritage, was Sheikh Mujibur  Rahman.  On  25   August   1955, he  said in the Pakistan Constituent  Assembly,  “Mr.  Speaker,  they ( 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 the term 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: are  they ready to have their identity changed?”

Sheikh   Mujib’s  demand   was  ignored.  Bangladesh  began to be called  East  Pakistan  by  the  rulers. Years later, after his release from  the  so – called  Agartalas  case, Sheikh  Mujib  took  the first step  toward  doing  away with the misdeed imposed on his people. On 5 December 1969, he said, “At one time, attempts were made to wipe out all traces of Bengali history and aspirations. Except for the   Bay   of  Bengal,  the  term Bengal is not seen 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 known as Bangladesh.”

Sheikh Mujib’s revolution was not merely directed at the achievement of political freedom. Once the Bengali nation – state was established, it become his goal to carry through programmes geared to the achievement of national economic welfare. The end of exploitation was one underlying principle of his programme, which he called the Second Revolution. While there are many who admit today that Gandhi was the founder of the non – violent non – cooperation movement, they believe it was an effective use of that principle which enabled Sheikh Sheikh Mujib to create history. Mujib’s politics was a natural follow – up to the struggle and movements of Bengal’s mystics, its religious preachers, Titumir’s crusade, the Indigo Revolt, Gandhiji’s non – cooperation, and Subhash Chandra Bose’s armed attempt for freedom. The secularism of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, the liberal democratic politics of Sher-e-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Haque and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy Contributed to the molding of the Mujib character. He was committed to public welfare. Emerging free of the limitations of western democracy, he wished to see democracy sustain 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 of his dreams, his people’s aspiration, in Bangla. The language was, in that swift stroke of politics, recognized by the global community. For the first time after Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel achievement in 1913, Bangla was put on a position of dignity.

The multifaceted life to the great man cannot be put together in language or colour. The reason is put on, Mujib is greater than his creation. It is not possible to hold within the confines of the frame the picture of such greatness. He is our emancipation – today and tomorrow. The greatest treasure of the Bengali nation is preservation of his heritage, a defense of his legacy. He has conquered death. His memory is our passage to the days that are to be.

Author : Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury

London, 20 December, 1994

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