We recall with highest regards the stormy days of our life in the month of March, 1971. And his 7 March Speech, 1971 shall be considered as a turning point of our history. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made a historic speech on this day at a mammoth public gathering at Suhrawardy Udaan. He made a clarion call to his people in a thunderous voice, “Build forts in each homestead. You must resist the Pakistani enemy with whatever you have in hand. Remember, we have given a lot of blood, a lot more blood we shall give, if need be, but we shall liberate the people of this country, Insha Allah (i.e., if God blessed). The struggle this time is the struggle for our emancipation; the struggle this time is the struggle for independence.”
“Speech is power, speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel” has rightly been said by Ralph Waldo Emerson. This historic speech of Bangabandhu reminds us of how powerful a speech was; this one speech had united the whole Bengali nation to come into a single platform to give a befitting reply to the Pakistani military junta. Our glorious Liberation War then started to gain Bangladesh. Happily, for Bangladesh, happily, we trust, for the whole human race of this country, we pursued a new and nobler course. We accomplished an armed rebellion which has no parallel in the annals of human society at that clarion call of Bangabandhu.
Because of the above address, the international Newsweek magazine termed Bangabandhu as a ‘Poet of Politics’ in the cover story of its 5 April 1971 issue. There can be no doubt about where his heart was. He is Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Like Thomas Carlyle, he might have believed, “Every noble work is at first impossible.” But by his long-standing struggles with the Pakistani rulers, he proved that impossible is the word which would not be found in his dictionary.
The Sheikh was a large, tall man and he looked very impressive with his long back-brushed hair and spectacles. He was intelligent and stubborn, but had very high political charisma. His political stature was legendary. His great charisma combined with political acumen made him the greatest of the different leaders of the Bangladesh Independence movement. The fiery revolutionary turned irascible statesman has had a profound effect on politics and his people during his time. A thorn in the side of Bengali leaders since the inception of Pakistani regime, he had been a beacon of resistance for their anti-Bengali stance.
While it is true that the Bangladesh revolution was the result of years of efforts by many people, it is also true that without the singular charisma, vision and willpower of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, it probably would not have happened. Many around the world love him for his ability to thumb his nose at the mighty Pakistani rulers and get away with it. We must give Bangabandhu his due honour as one of the most remarkable men during his time across the world.
He is remembered as a visionary who fought for his countrymen all through his life. He was a superior politician than anyone else during his time in the whole world. Still, Bangabandhu has remained a great leader…after his death and he will remain the same in the years to come. His martyrdom allowed others to pick up the fallen banner of freedom and independence. His influence on later fighters is considerable. Today, Bangabandhu’s remains lie in a monument at Tungipara where he was born. One of the ugliest and most tragic incidents in the modern history of the world took place during our glorious Liberation War in 1971 when millions of our unarmed people were gunned down by savage Pakistani army and their local cruel cohorts. Uncle Sam played a very dirty role by giving their mighty support to Pakistan in order that Bangladesh couldn’t born.
You can’t have a revolution without something to rebel against. The Pakistani rulers had kept an iron grip on power in this land of Bangladesh since 1947. But Bangabandhu stuck to his idealism throughout the struggle of independence of Bangladesh, breaking ties with other puppet politicians as they sold out. He was an implacable force and fought the Pakistani rulers and their local accomplices with no compromise. Bangabandhu truly believed that he knew what was best for his people and the country. He was a high ranking planner and organiser, who succeeded through bold politicking where others relied on strength of the Pakistani military junta. He is considered to be a symbol of rebellion, patriotism and idealism.
A gifted fiery speaker and tireless political worker, he dedicated his life to making Bangladesh a better place and people responded by creating a cult of personality to him that exists to this day. The words of Herodotus “It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen” are truly having relevance with Bangabandhu.
When we think of this golden son of this soil, it reminds us of the words of Egon Schiele, “All beautiful and noble qualities have been united in him; he shall be the fruit which will leave eternal vitality behind even after its decay. How great must be our joy, therefore, to have given birth of a great son to us.” When we think of our Bangabandhu, we find William E Channing’s words as true, “Politics…regarded as the study and pursuit of the true, enduring good of a community, as the application of great and unchangeable principles to public affairs, is a noble sphere of thought and action.” We agree with Dwight D Eisenhower when he says—“Politics is a profession; a serious, complicated and, in its true sense, a noble one.” Bangabandhu was such a politician of noble stature and high level of respect gained by impressive development or achievement.
From the rising to the setting sun, may his presence come to our life every day; every time to inspire us to build a golden Bangladesh in line with his spirits. “Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life” was the principal motto of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman throughout his life as pointed out by Bob Marley. Malcolm X Said, “Sometimes you have to pick the gun up to put the gun down” and maybe, the Sheikh has correctly assessed the same path and gave a clarion call to his people whom he loved so much in that direction.
In 1971, our strategy was not only to confront the cruel Pakistani beasts and their local collaborators, but also to lay siege to it; to deprive it of oxygen; to shame it; to mock it with our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness armed fights – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we were once compelled to believe.
Bangabandhu’s historic March 7 speech is recognised as one of the world’s all-time best. It is correctly said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historic March 7 speech that effectively declared Bangladesh’s independence and it has been selected as one of the most rousing and inspirational wartime speeches in the last 2,500 years. The much-talked-about inspirational speech is considered by many to be one of the world’s best. He broke with established customs. Noted journalist and columnist Syed Badrul Ahsan has aptly said, “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became from rebel to founding father of Bangladesh.” Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is popularly known in Bangladesh as Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) and he was a Bengali politician and the founding leader of Bangladesh. He is widely revered in the country as the Father of the Nation.
The eyes of the world focused on Dhaka’s the-then Race Course Maidan that day as international media descended upon the-then East Pakistan amidst speculation that Sheikh Mujib would declare a unilateral declaration of independence from Pakistan. The speculation gained credibility as there were open calls by people in this soil to make the unilateral declaration. The speech was immensely successful in giving Bengalis a clear goal of their struggle, the goal of independence. It inspired millions across Bangladesh to get engaged in the freedom struggle. This historic address was a de facto declaration of Bangladesh’s independence.
Infamous Lieutenant General AAK Niazi, Commander of Pakistani troops said, “Mujib virtually became the ruler… His residence at 32 Dhanmondi became the presidency (from March 7)…the command of the central government began to be defied.” “Bangladesh had virtually come into being on 7 March 1971” is said by Pakistani Lieutenant General Kamal Matinuddin.
Bangabandhu’s 7 March, 1971 speech has been recognised as one of the world-famous speeches in the book entitled, “We Shall Fight on the Beaches: The Speeches That Inspired History”, by Jacob F Field, a noted Historian. It is truly a very powerful speech in the annuals of the world history.
He was the most charismatic political personality the Bengali nation has ever produced. Embracing Bangabandhu at the Algiers Non-Aligned Summit in 1973, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, known as Fidel Castro, is a Cuban politician and a revolutionary who commented, “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.”
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The writer is an independent political analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh who writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs.