Monday, 23 May, 2022

Stop Fixing History, Fix the Future

Nasih Ul Wadud Alam

Stop Fixing History, Fix the Future
Nasih Ul Wadud Alam

Unlike the developed countries, Bangladesh does not practice liberal education at any level. As educators, we do not find it comfortable to touch upon many sensitive issues. Also in writings, our historical representation is on the edge of historical misrepresentation. Hence, we become parochial with our views of history. Having a myopic vision has no subliminal effect on impactful research of history.

The fabric of our history gets effaced every now and then. In order to serve our objective, we uplift some historical personalities and drain others. The constantly changing narrative of the history of Bangladesh makes me confused about the authenticity of our historical data and the process of documentation. Our researchers are not courageous and interested in showing the missing links of our history. Most of our educators’ raison d’etre of life is to turn a blind eye on historical objectivity.

Our culture of quietism is not doing us any favour. As a result, I find our history not always telling the truth that it deserves to tell. If our textbooks, without political biases, acknowledge the contributions and investigate the supposed failures of the leadership-group of 1971, our children will have an analytical viewpoint of history. Alas! It never happens.

Let me draw you upon some crucial events of 25 March and 26 March 1971. Just before he was arrested on the late night of 25 March or the early dawn of 26 March, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman put his pen to the paper of declaration:

Today Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent country. On Thursday night, West Pakistani armed forces suddenly attacked the police barracks at Razarbagh and the EPR headquarters at Pilkhana in Dacca. Many innocent and unarmed have been killed in Dhaka city and other places of Bangladesh. Violent clashes between E.P.R. and Police on the one hand and the armed forces of Pakistan on the other, are going on. The Bengalis are fighting the enemy with great courage for an independent Bangladesh. May Allah aid us in our fight for freedom. Joy Bangla [May Bangladesh be victorious].

If facts go correct, Bangabandhu was the first one to announce Bangladesh as an independent country. On the other hand, Bangladesh National Party (BNP) claims its President and Founder Gen (Rtd) Ziaur Rahman as the first cohort to announce the declaration of independence. On 27 March, 1971, General Zia from Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, Kalurghat reads:

This is Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. I, Major Ziaur Rahman, at the direction of Bangabandhu Mujibur Rahman, hereby declare that Independent People’s Republic of Bangladesh has been established. At his direction, I have taken the command as the temporary Head of the Republic. In the name of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I call upon all Bengalees to rise against the attack by the West Pakistani Army. We shall fight to the last to free our motherland. Victory is, by the Grace of Allah, ours. Joy Bangla.

That declaration is a clear indication that General Zia followed the orders of his high command. He showed his willingness and utmost devotion towards his leader, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Under Bangabandhu’s tutelage, he prepared himself and also urged others to fight against the Pakistan junta. Although Bangabandhu was everyone’s leader, Zia’s voice reverberated through the rank and file and it initially inspired the freedom fighters to fight a full-fledged war against the Pakistani oppressors during the Bangladesh Liberation War.

It is human tendency to glorify people posthumously. In other words, human beings tend to ignore the present and glorify the past. However, in our country, the opposite happens, especially in politics, where we find that each of the political party leaders is trying to distort our history for their own selfish interests. Instead of making our history prouder, we tend to underestimate our past leaders, freedom fighters, language martyrs and biranganas by belittling their contribution towards the independence of Bangladesh.

Because of their disrespectful attitudes, our political leaders are failing to motivate us to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead of getting inspired by them, our students are moving away from politics which has created heavenly places for goons to plunder wealth and be at the top of the political spectrum. Many of our countrymen do not want to stay in the country. They are looking for a way to get out of this country, either on study or work visas. Many graduates do know that there are not enough jobs available. And the political people steal electoral ballots not only to earn money but also to move up to the level. They do not love their party. They eat the cream of a pie and leave the place when their eating is over.

We want to see a change in mentality among politicians. Their political bickering is hard to fathom. We want them to respect our freedom fighters, martyrs and biranganas of 1971. The dream of a golden Bangladesh and a peaceful Bangladesh should not die in political diatribes. Is Bangabandhu’s Bangladesh here to stay? It depends on our maturity and rationality.


The writer is a Lecturer, Department of English, Chittagong Independent University