Father of the Nation
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was not a mere individual; he was an institution, a movement, a revolution and 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 recognized him as the greatest Bengali of thousand years.
For eternity he will show the path to the Bengali nation, his dreams are the basis of the existence of the nation. His legacy is the culture and society that Bengalis have sketched for them. His possibilities, the promised thrown forth by him, are the fountain-spring of the civilized existence of the Bengalis.
He was 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 the people. The courage and charm that flowed from him made him unique in these times. Newsweek magazine has called him the “poet of politics”.
Great 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, but of the 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 Bengalis. His Bengali nationalism is the new emergence of Bengali civilization and culture. Mujib is the hero of the Bengalis, in the past and in the times that are ahead.”
Embracing Banglabandhu 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.”
Highlights from the life of the
Father of the nation
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
17 Mar. 1920
Born in Tungipara in Gopalganj district of Bangladesh.
Father: Mr. Sheikh Lutfar Rahman
Mother: Mrs. Sheikh Shahara Khatun
Graduation from Islamia College, Kolkata, India
Formation of Awami Muslim League
Provincial election, Cabinet Minister of United Front Government
23 Aug. 1966
6-Point Charter launched (popularly referred to as the ‘ Magna-Carta of Bengali people )
Arrested in connection with Agartala Conspiracy case
Mass Upsurge, withdrawal of Agartala Conspiracy Case and release from prison
7 Dec. 1970
General elections, landslide victory of Awami League
7 March 1971
Historic speech at Race Course Ground (presently Suhrawardy udyan)
26 Mar. 1971
Declaration of independence by Bangabandhu; arrest and transfer to Pakistani prison
10 Apr. 1971
Proclamation of Independence adopted with Bangabandhu as President of Bangladesh
10 Jan. 1972
Return to Bangladesh from captivity
12 Jan. 1972
Relinquishment of office of the President and swearing in as Prime Minister
4 Nov. 1972
Adoption of the Constitution by the Constituent Assembly
Julio Curie Peace Award
 15 Aug. 1975
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 defence 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’ (Bengal) 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 Agartala 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 became his goal to carry through programmes geared to the achievement of national economic welfare. The end of exploitation was underlying principles 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 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 aspirations, in Bengali. The language was, in that swift strike of politics, recognized by the global community. For the first time after Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel achievement in 1943, Bengali was put on a position of dignity.
The multifaceted life of the great man cannot be put together in language or color. 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 defence of his legacy. He has conquered death. His memory is our passage to the days that are to be.