The birth centenary of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, officially gets underway on 10 January. As the nation prepares to observe Mujib Borsho or Mujib Year, we recall with pride today the homecoming of the founder of Bangladesh in 1972 and the inspiration he symbolized for a nation that had paid a high price for freedom. It is altogether fitting and proper that we remember the day and remember too the larger than life personality Bangabandhu was as he shaped the struggle for autonomy before launching the struggle for national freedom.
The centenary celebrations of Bangabandhu’s birth offer the nation an opportunity to study afresh his role in the making of our history. It is not for nothing that Bangabandhu is referred to as the greatest Bengali of all time. No Bengali before him had sowed the seeds of a dream of national independence. There has hardly been any other politician in our part of the world or indeed anywhere else who has been able to match him in the spiritedness of political struggle. His was a brand of politics that was deeply rooted in the soil and ingrained in the hearts of his people. He spent the best part of his life, his youth, in prison. And yet there was no regret in him. All that mattered to him was the emancipation of his people.
It is Bangabandhu’s uncompromising politics, with its underpinning of Bengali nationalism and secularism together with his unflinching faith in the rule of law which must be the focus of study as we go into the year-long celebrations of his birth centenary. Any study or research on Bangabandhu must bring into it a necessary intellectual dimension. That means imbuing the nation, especially the younger generation, with the sense of political pluralism that was always a hallmark of his character. Within his party and beyond, it was democracy he thought must define the development and movement of society. He never wavered in his belief that leadership was glorious when it was employed in the creation of new leadership, for a nation was always in need of political dynamism.
It was Bangabandhu’s natural ability to encourage the rise of leadership qualities in others which was so important a factor in the War of Liberation. He had instilled in his colleagues the lesson that they mattered too. History remains proof of the noble and strong leadership provided to the nation by the Mujibnagar government.
Bangabandhu’s is an epic story. It is this epic which must be narrated to the people of this land, through the hamlets and villages and towns of Bangladesh, a hundred years after his birth and beyond.