PRESERVING A LEGACY
His is a legacy of pride, valour and resilience through inspiration, for he was a charismatic leader who led by inspiring
Bangabandhu lives on in the new generations
Photo- Dhaka Tribune
The voice that should have been heard around the world on March 7, 1971 irreversibly set the people of then East Pakistan on a course to exercise their right to self-determination and attain independ-ence.
The world may have turned a deaf ear to the battle-cry, but the boldest of proclamations shook the very foundations of the house of the illegitimate oppressors. Regardless of political allegiances, no Bangladeshi can deny that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman spoke to his people, gave strength to his people, gave them courage and conviction to fight for their birthright.
His is a legacy of pride, valour and resilience through inspiration, for he was a charismatic leader who led by inspiring. This meant that the energised youth were the most ardent of his disciples. Indeed, the lamentable inevitability of all wars is the loss of innocence of the lambs who are put to the slaugh-ter.
The liberation war was no different, although the freedom that was won because of their participation and vitality prevented their deaths from being in vain. An unwavering sense of pride – instilled by Bangabandhu, who had an unshakeable belief in his people – was the driving force behind the youth. It came from knowing that they were in the right.
This was something that the father of the nation believed in to the point of it being his faith. The ineq-uity that West Pakistan subjected East Pakistan to through the central government, its governance and its policies ensured that denouncing them was taking a stand against unconscionable wrongs.
When Bangabandhu was kept from leading a unified Pakistan to rectify these, he embraced the merits of nationalism, socialism and secularism to establish his dream of a just and equal society without des-potism, discrimination and exploitation. Sheikh Mujib took up an ambitious undertaking that had little chance of success.
Nevertheless, he was committed to his vision, and determined to fulfil it. The youth, in the same spirit that saw them play critical roles in the Language Movement and the uprising of 1969, followed him in 1971.
It is a spirit that has faltered in the four decades that have since passed. And today, a culture of lies, corruption, and distortion of history and personalities has been carefully cultivated by pseudo-Machiavellians to extinguish hope and faith.
The very identity of Bangladeshis, that once stemmed from the noble principle of equality advocated by Bangabandhu, has been stripped away, leaving behind a generation of confused, frustrated, des-perate, devastated youth who have witnessed far too many promises broken far too repeatedly.
The cult of personality has prevailed through the deformations and alterations. However, Banga-bandhu’s faith, bravery, compassion and sensitivity have not been diminished by the present-day poi-sonous political atmosphere.
He was the man who rose to the occasion when his unborn country and its people most needed someone to. He motivated and directed when the youth, through whose ranks he had risen, needed someone to don the mantle of leadership and have the capacity to oversee the translation of vision into reality.
It is easy to overlook these facts amidst the over-zealousness to criticise. While no one in this imper-fect world is above criticism, it cannot be destructive. Too often grand actions of a man are brushed aside by the gleeful eagerness to discredit him. Such biased portraits are the reasons why today’s youth are disillusioned; why, for instance, the current ugly and violent nature of student politics is at-tributed to Bangabandhu’s prominence as a leader of the youth.
To err is human, therefore all human beings are fundamentally flawed. Bangabandhu’s immortality, however, comes not from his deifying, but from the fact that he did not allow his flaws to get in the way of him becoming a fearless leader who opposed injustice to incontrovertibly become the father of a nation.
Henry Stanley Haskins said about the true measure of a man: “What lies behind us and what lies be-fore us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Paying homage to him entails acknowledging and respecting every individual who contributed to the independence of Bangladesh because of the courage and inspiration he gave them.
Preserving his legacy demands relentlessness in fighting inequality, injustice and oppression of all forms. The youth remain considerably better placed than Bangladesh’s leaders to fulfil Bangabandhu’s dream of a utopian nation, for which so many have sacrificed so much.
August 14, 2013