Painting of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Art Illustration: Jayanata
A century ago, Khoka, one among the six children of Sheikh Lutfar Rahman and Sheikh Sayera Khatun, was born at village Tungipara under Gopalganj on March 17, 1920.
At akika (a ceremony of naming a new born Muslim child), his paternal grandfather Sheikh Abdul Majid named him “Sheikh Mujib” (the person who answers). But his father Sheikh Lutfur Rahman and mother Sayera Khatun used to call him Khoka. Later Khoka became “Mujib Vai” and Mujib Vai emerged as “Bangabandhu” (the friend of Bengalis).
The legend Bangabandhu hadn’t been born overnight. Years of works have been culminated and later been evaluated under the unforgiving magnifying glasses of the history. Passing a long course of time through struggle and pains, Khoka became Bangabandhu.
Mujib became the maker of history, the architect of an independent Bangladesh and established an ideology. He was later dubbed as the Father of Bangladesh and the greatest Bengali of all time.
From his early age in the school, he showed leadership potentials. Mujib was admitted at Gimadanga Primary School. In class three, he was admitted at Gopalganj Public School. In 1938, when Mujib was a student of Gopalganj Missionary School, the great leaders—AK Fazlul Haq and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy visited Gopalganj and Mujib had the responsibility to organise a volunteer team. During this visit, Suhrawardy discovered Sheikh Mujib as a promising and courageous political talent.
Mujib joined All India Muslim Students Federation in 1940 when he was a student of Islamia College. In 1943, a famine broke out due to World War Two and Mujib went out for humanitarian help. He collected food and from his family and rich people to feed the poor.
Following the announcement of Muhammad Ali Jinnah that Urdu would be the only official state language of Pakistan, protest erupted among the Bengali speaking people in 1948. Mujib led the Muslim Students’ League in organizing strikes and protests, and was then was arrested along with Khaleque Nawaz Khan and ShamsulHaqueon 11th March that year and Mujibwas brutally beaten.
In 24 years long Pakistani reign in Bangladesh Mujib spent almost 12 years in prison. But that six feet long man with infinite courage never bowed his head down before oppressive force. Though his family suffered yet he didn’t compromised.
Bangabandhu always led the people’s struggle from the front - be it the language movement of 1948 to 1952, the elections of 1954, protests against the martial law imposed in 1958 by the military dictator Ayub Khan, movement against the dictatorial regime’s education policy in 1962 that denied the people of their fundamental right of equality and education for all.
Bangabandhu was imprisoned several times by the undemocratic and military regime of Pakistan. In his less than 50 years of life till the emergence of independent Bangladesh, he spent 4682 days or nearly 13 years in prison. But nothing could stop him. He was equally powerful a voice and leader even from within the prison.
“The greatest Bengali of the past thousand years, sculptor of Bangladesh, Father of the Nation, and supreme chief of commander of the Liberation War” all these titles were gained by him because of his struggle and sacrifice. The main role behind the history of becoming Bangabandhu from Khoka is his invincible leadership, kindness and sacrifice for the people of Bangla.
With that hard-earned freedom and the emergence of a new nation, the boy Khoka from an unknown backwater had become “Bangabandhu”—the architect and the undisputed father of a nation. His journey of becoming so is thus engraved with deep patriotism, unlimited sacrifice and unparalleled leadership.