Bangabandhu’s spirit lives on to this day
While the country whole-heartedly celebrates the 100th birth anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, it’s time to think about what exactly made him the great leader that he was.
Starting from leadership qualities to critical thinking abilities and empathetic views, he had acquired all the 21st century leadership skills way back in 1943.
He brought enormous changes in the social and political dynamics of the world, and above all, in the life of the common people of Bangladesh who had struggled for independence since the partition of India in 1947, eventually leading to the formation of East and West Pakistan.
For 25 years, our people suffered the numerous hardships thrown their way with no hope of salvation until finally, they found courage to fight for independence under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971.
Bangabandhu, the architect of independent Bangladesh, the Father of our Nation, was born in 1920, in a respected Muslim family at Tungipara in Gopalganj.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman first expressed his leadership skills in 1943 when he distributed rice to the famine-stricken people from his father’s stock, in secret. Since that incident, he grew up to be the hero we all needed, steering his nation into their most glorious moment in history.
The chronicles of the suffering of people in Bangladesh date back to the colonial times, even before Pakistan was created. In 1948, a revolution against this discrimination began, through the language movement in which Sheikh Mujibur Rahman actively participated.
In 1956, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was appointed as minister of the Awami League when the provincial cabinet was formed. However, he left the cabinet in order to reorganize the party and decided to be with people in order to reinforce it for a successful movement.
This strategy of his caused a government-in-exile to be formed in his absence in April 1971. With the declaration of the “six-point” demand known as the “charter of freedom of the Bengali nation” and mass uprising in 1969, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman turned into an indomitable leader.
Awami League won in the 1970 election, implying that the mass people agreed with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s “six-point” demand, thus proving his determination, leadership and communication skills once again.
As the feud for freedom seemed to knock on the door, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman left no stone unturned in order to inspire his people to fight for what has always been theirs. His ability to feel for the unfortunate and the neglected, even when there was no concept of empathy, was extraordinary.
His historic speech on March 7 still manages to run a chill down the spine, showcasing his inordinate communication skills.
In only 19 minutes, his extempore speech had delivered a strategic guidance for the final revolution and sparked patriotism in the hearts of the suffering Bangladeshis, a spark that had not died until victory was achieved, until the martyrs took their very last breaths.
Pakistan’s trial to shake the country on the night of March 25, 1971 by attacking unarmed civilians in the east-wing was the start of an extermination. On that very night, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had hand-written a message and also declared independence on the East Pakistan Radio.
This message quickly gained international attention as it was written in English and he had already given instructions to his people in Bangla during his public address on March 7.
This unique course of action shows how much of a visionary leader he was. He had expected to be arrested that night and predicted that he might not have ample time to communicate his last message to his people, and thus he planned accordingly.
On April 10, 1971, the first government of Bangladesh was formed in exile, declaring Sheikh Mujib as the president during his absence. This is an example of the trust that his followers had in him and his ability to rule.
His tactical guidance formed the provincial government of Bangladesh in order to lead the country in his absence during the War of Liberation.
The government of Pakistan was forced to release Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman under immense international pressure on January 8. On January 10, 1972 he returned to Bangladesh from a Pakistan prison after the war ended, generating full-fledged celebrations.
He was shattered by what his absence had transpired, which he described as the “biggest humanitarian disaster in the world.”
A mere four years later, on August 15, 1975, the nation experienced a hollowness that can never be fulfilled. The great leader himself was brutally murdered along with most of his family members by a group of junior army officers, at their own home in Dhanmondi Road 32.
To this day, the whole nation observes August 15 as National Mourning Day and remembers the noblest and most extraordinary Bangladeshi to have ever lived.
In memory of his spirit, ideology, courage, and love for people, and as a tribute to his efforts in paving the way for an independent country, his 100th birthday is being celebrated all over the country today.
Md Mostafijur Rahman is a program officer at Brac University.