A ‘SECONDHAND’ ACCOUNT
While I tread the streets of Dhaka around August, and the famous racecourse address plays, I can tell that if this man called you would go to war. A gifted orator and motivator, he is exactly the type of leader this country needs..
A 1973 photo, during a council meeting of AL, shows the legendary political figures of Bangladesh. From left: Tajuddin Ahmed, Syed Nazrul Islam, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, AHM Kamruzzaman, Khandaker Moshtaque and M Mansur Ali
Photo- Dhaka Tribune
I am marginally more than half the age of Bangladesh. I have, at best, a secondhand experience of Bangabandhu – through the tapes and videos that are still played on BTV, through the volumes that have been written in the last 20 years, and through the accounts of elders who have seen and heard the man in his element.
Like many in my generation, I am no Awami League fanatic; I represent the “swing vote.” We have not experienced ’71 and whatever happened before or up to two decades later, thus we don’t feel or partake in the partisan divide that is evident in our seniors.
At Shahbagh we have shown that he is a reference point for many of us and perhaps “the” leader that is common to us. We do hold our liberty, and the laurels that our liberty is based on, in high esteem. We shall not compromise on issues regarding Bangladesh, her freedom and the people who have suffered in the road to attain it.
Bangabandhu, his life, the struggles, the achievements and the unfinished businesses are all valuable lessons for us – the young. Undoubtedly, he is the only person who had successfully united an otherwise notoriously divided and delusional nation.
He is proof that in unison we are indomitable against whatever the world can throw at us. He is proof that through hard work, determination and the sheer will to make a difference, change can be made to the fortune of an entire nation.
While I tread the streets of Dhaka around August, and the famous racecourse address plays, I can tell that if this man called, you would go to war. A gifted orator and motivator, he is exactly the type of leader this country needs. It is about time someone rose from the chaos within the country, united us and steered us forward.
Bangabandhu adorned the hearts of the people and such is his legacy that his influence alone can still pull in blind votes for the AL. Ahmed Sofa once said, and he’s been quoted thousands of times on this, that when the AL loses Bangladesh loses.
Years ago, around 1998, I was about 10 years old at that time, I remember a friend of mine, a peer, suddenly acting aggressive towards an individual who had said something offensive about Sheikh Mujib. The devotion that his pro-AL father had instilled into his 10-year-old son had simply startled me back then, and I did not even fully know who Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was. I was left wondering why this otherwise even-tempered boy became so reactive all of a sudden.
Now that I have grown more mature, I understand. Believe me, a man who had the magnetism to pull this kind of almost-blind devotion had to have been a powerful leader; we have not had many individuals who deserve that kind of respect.
The problem, or rather the upside, is that the way we approach the great man is perhaps different to the way most Awami League supporters perceive Bangabandhu.
An Awami Leaguer sees him as someone beyond reproach and criticism and is offended by anything but the utmost praise for him. To us, he is more human – more realistic.
Even Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong or Fidel Castro had weaknesses. They are only human beings and must have been susceptible to failure. Perhaps so too was Bangabandhu, and I cannot emphatically state this as I have no more than a secondhand account.
Sheikh Mujib could have had an eye for traitors or at least have been somewhat less trusting. The “Baksal” may have been a historic mistake. He could have handled the newly-liberated Bangladesh differently. Whoever has spoken of this has spoken of the dire straits that Mujib had to endure, of the ill motives some of the people around him had, how the blankets were stolen.
Most of those who are fascinated by Bangadandhu argue that though there have been mistakes they perhaps were orders of the day and were perfectly justifiable. Then again, as the absolute leader he could have done better.
As a nation, as the youth of the nation, these are also valuable lessons. We need to be wary of backstabbers and we must not succumb to temptation and be backstabbers ourselves.
Above everything, Bangabandhu still remains the leader of the country. He is for the whole of Bangladesh. What needs to be condemned is the effort to proclaim or alienate him to or from any sect or political school of thought.
August 15, 2013