Book Review Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Birth of Bangladesh”

Book Review Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Birth of Bangladesh”

Book Review:

By Barrister Harun ur Rashid

Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva

Book Title: “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Birth of Bangladesh”
Author: Barrister Kazi Kamal Ahmed
Publisher: Academic Press and Publishers Library (APPL), Dhanmondi R/A.
Publication Date: June 2013
No of Pages 219

Kazi Kamal, the first Bangladesh Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Germany (East Germany) during 1972-74 who passed away in 1987 can claim to be the first author to write a book on the life- history of Bangabandhu in English. The first edition of the book was published in 1970 and the author claimed to have presented it to Bangabandhu.

The author was a student activist in the 40s in Kolkata. He was a close companion to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and lived in the same Baker Hostel in the 40s.

In the preface of the book, the author begins: in a dramatic fashion, asking several questions: “Who is this leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman? What kind of a man was he who could draw millions of people to march behind him? Why did a million people gather before him at Dhaka when he addressed them on 23rd February 1969 or 7th June in 1970? … What was driving him all the way? Why was the whole fibre of his being absorbed by politics? …All these thoughts dominated my mind when I took to writing of the struggles of Sheikh Mujib since his childhood till his life during the Agartala Conspiracy case.”

The author was able to interview Sheikh Mujib several times in his house in late 60s and the book chronicles many untold stories of his life which are a fascinating to read.

Some of the untold stories are cited as examples to have a glimpse of Bangabandhu. During the days in Kolkata in 1943, the author, Sheikh Mujib and three other students were very close. The author reveals: “Once we went to see a cinema and we were waiting for the picture to start. Mujib talked about starting a political party. Pointing to me, he said you would write and Ashraf would give finance.”

The author asked Sheikh Mujib once “What are your favourite books?” He said: “Nazrul, Tagore, Bernard Shaw and John F. Kennedy.” The author writes: “His range of choice is wide and sophisticated… I had the opportunity to look at his home library. There are two Almirahs packed with books-from Churchill to Bertrand Russell.”

The author attributes Sheikh Mujib’s ascendancy in politics because of his “indomitable courage” to stand against dictatorship. When no politician criticised President Ayub Khan, it was Sheikh Mujib whose “raw courage and patriotism that sprang up in revolt against the government of Ayub”.

Kamal describes Mujib as a consummate politician. He writes: “Lately I have watched him sitting in the Awami League office at 51, Purana Paltan, surrounded by his party men for decisions regarding party matters. His mind was so alert and so well stored each decision came with a snap.”

According to the author, Sheikh Mujib led a Spartan life. He writes: “Part of the secret of his ascendancy lay in his disdain for most of the prizes, the pleasures and comforts of life.”

The author in the book devoted a few chapters comparing Sheikh Mujib with other Bengali leaders of the time, such as Nurul Amin and Ataur Rahman Khan and described his closeness to A.K. Fazlul Huq, Suhrawardy and Bhashani.

The author once asked him: “What do you think of Fazlul Huq?” Mujib said: “He was a great man”…When I asked him about Suhrawardy? He replied “What is he not?” He said:”A great man, a great politician, kind and honest and a man of high principles.”

In the first edition in 1970, the author wrote Chapter I to Chapter XVII. In the later edition in early 1972, the author added Chapters XVIII and XIX which contain the story leading to independence of Bangladesh.

Barrister Kamal’s analysis in sharp and crisp language has brought out beautifully Sheikh Mujib’s personality as well as political beliefs and is seen as a major contribution to the political history of Bangladesh.

Currently there are many books on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in both English and Bengali. The importance of the book lies in the fact that it is a life story of Sheikh Mujib from someone who knew very him closely from his student life.

As Lord Francis Bacon has said some books are to be tasted, some others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested. In my view, the book under review falls into the last category.

Finally, I thank also the publishers of the book Academic Press and Publishers Library (APPL), Road 6A, House 70/1, Dhanmondi R.A. Dhaka to make it available this month to readers.

The book is a good resource for anyone interested in the life-story of Bangabandhu from his childhood until the birth of Bangladesh. I recommend the very reasonably priced book for everyone to relax, enjoy going through the easy-reading book. It is as freshening as a new breeze wafting through your mind taking you into an inner truth of politics in Bangladesh. The book is as stimulating as appealing.

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