The month of March 1971 has been remembered as an eventful month that led to the end of united Pakistan and the beginning of Bangladesh. But undoubtedly the historic 7th March speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was one of the vital sparks that inspired the struggle against Pakistani repression. March 7, 1971 was a defining moment for this nation as Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made a clarion call for waging guerrilla warfare against tyranny and exploitation. Bangabandhu delivered the speech on March 7, 1971 at the then Racecourse Ground in Dhaka taking into account the long historical struggle of the Bangalee nation. His speech in a human sea was virtually the declaration of Bangladesh’s independence as Bangabandhu, in his fiery voice, called upon Bangalees to wage struggle against the Pakistani oppressors until the freedom was achieved. ‘This struggle is for freedom, this struggle is for independence’, Bangabandhu declared in his roaring voice at the public meeting on March 7, 1971. The historic 7th March is a Red-letter day in the history of the Bangalees’ long arduous freedom struggle.
In his nineteen-minute speech, Bangabandhu slowly and accurately narrated the long twenty-three years history of discrimination of the Bengalis by the West Pakistan rulers, how they were betrayed in all aspects of economic and political life and how the people of East Bengal became a colony of West Pakistan. Sheikh Mujib’s modest language, the style of the speech, his rigorous voice and his representation of the arguments in a step-by-step way gained the trust of the audience and built his credibility. Bangabandhu used various kinds of emotional appeals which forced people to agree on his argument about freedom. Bangabandhu had started his address like this, ‘My dear brothers’. Whenever he talked about the people who were killed during several movements, he showed due respect by addressing them as ‘martyrs’. In some places he called them ‘my children’, and he emphasized that the brave sons of Bengal had been snatched from the chest of their mothers. These word choices made people feel that all the people of Bangladesh are a family, so the will to do something for the family comes as an instinct.UNESCO has included the historic speech made by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on Mar 7, 1971, which effectively declared Bangladesh’s independence, on the Memory of the World International Register. The decision to include the famous address among a list of the documentary heritage of the world was announced by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The speech is part of 78 nominations put forward by a panel of experts led by Chairman and Director-General of the National Archives of the United Arab Emirates Dr Abdulla Alraisi at a meeting at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The Memory of the World Register now includes a total of 427 documents and collections, coming from all continents and safeguarded on various materials from stone to celluloid and from parchment to sound recordings. Inclusion of the speech in the UNESCO’s international register is another milestone of the cherishment of the speech, which has already been translated in 12 languages.
In the eyes of international political analysts, this particular speech was one of the greatest political speeches of the world as it inspired the Bangalee nation to snatch the victory jumping into the Liberation War. Noted writer and historian Jacob F. Field included the speech in the book titled “We shall Fight on the Beaches: The Speeches that Inspired History” which was compiled with the world famous inspirational speeches of two thousand and five hundred years.
Bangabandhu’s iconic speech had been what finally pushed the nation over the edge, driving the countrymen to make their final stand against years of oppression and torture. The significance of the speech resonates within every Bangalees till date and now. The 7th March speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman provided inspiration to the Bengali people in their quest for freedom and emancipation. The speech also energized the entire nation and prepared the people for the forthcoming Liberation struggle. It also served as the ultimate source of inspiration for the countless freedom fighters who joined the Mukti Bahini. Bangabandhu’s speech is played throughout the country during the various national occasions and continues to reverberate in hearts and minds of the Bengali people. This speech continues to enthral our people and will continue to inspire succeeding generations.
Bangabandhu had tied in the same string the then political situation, Bengali nation’s emotion, dream and aspiration with his extraordinary oratory and political sagacity. The directives of the father of the Nation was the main mantra’ of the rock solid national unity during the heroic movement and armed struggle in 1971, the appeal of which is remained un-faded. It still inspirers the young generation and will continue to do so.
The historic speech that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered forty seven years ago is an amazing event in the context of theoretical application of communication science. It is an epic of 1,107 words. It is, in fact, one of the best speeches in the globe. It is not only a part of our history but also a part of the world history. The military rulers of Bangladesh following assassination of Bangabandhu and BNP-Jamaat alliance imposed restriction on playing the speech in the state media but they could not erase the speech from the heart of the people of the country. the recognition of the historic 7th March speech by UNESCO is the revenge of history against those who had tried to erase the name of Bangabandhu and his contributions from Bangladesh history. History takes its revenge, history always upholds the truth, history will make Bangabandhu’s place defying all those who try to erase that.
(The author acknowledges with gratitude the different sources of information.)
The writer is the Assistant Professor,
Department of Public Administration,