Published:  01:07 AM, 01 December 2017

UNESCO honor most welcomed, but why the long delay?

UNESCO honor most welcomed, but why the long delay?

The nation is jumping with joy and jubilation in celebration of the United Nat-ions Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organi-zation (UNESCO) giving recognition to Bangabandhu's epoch-making speech of 1971, and rightly so.
The Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, announced the decision on October 30, 2017, at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

I can't help, but wonder, however, why it has taken to long to recognize a speech that's been so obvious to many for its rare magnificence. After all, it was delivered 46 years ago!I'm proud to have recognized its rare fine qualities in 2000, upon my very first sighting. I immediately went about capturing its magnificence in a tribute poster for people of all nations… of all religious and political persuasions, to appreciate and admire for its sheer brilliance.

I'm proud to say (interpret as boast!), the poster was the first in the history of Bangladesh (then celebrating it 29th birthday), to have captured Bangabandhu's speech. My research at the time had told me there were thousands of Bangabandhu posters about, many with family members, but none with his famous speech. I decided to fill that void with a personal tribute. (Genius is perception of the obvious that no one else sees!).

The poster has won many hearts and much admiration in Bangladesh and worldwide since then. It is seen by some as the unofficial Proclamation of Independence of Bangladesh and hangs in the Bangabandhu Museum, Awami HQ, the offices and homes of European royalty and leading politicians of Bangladesh, America, Ireland, England, Canada, Spain and India.

As a political neutral, but an ardent Bangabandhu admirer; I was thrilled to become the first foreign citizen invited to deliver a speech about Bangabandhu alongside his daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a Bangabandhu tribute evening. On that occasion, I presented Sheikh Hasina with a framed copy of the poster which now hangs in her home.

One of my main intentions of making the poster was to 'spread the word' about the existence of the speech itself and give English-speaking people here and overseas an insight into one of the world's most inspiring orators.People do not ask about the politics or religion of Rabindranath Tagore, they simply appreciate the brilliance of his work. Hopefully, the same will apply to Bangabandhu one day.

I was elated when I first read it. To me it was like finding a diamond in the rough. Of all the great men who have ever lived only four I can recollect, gave speeches that were so profound, they inspired and touched the hearts and minds of generations from their rendition to the present time - and will transcend time itself.

Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" speech given at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863. Martin Luther King's "I Had a Dream" speech delivered on 28 August 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. John F. Kennedy's inaugural address on January 20, 1961 "Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You", and the brilliant "The speech that inspired the birth of a nation " (my title) by Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu, Sheikh Mojibur Rahman, on March 7, 1971.

Two million people stood under the blazing sun at Suhrawardy Udyan formerly known as Ramna Race Course Maidan in Dhaka, to listen and be inspired. And they were, beyond their imagination.Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. They're alive with energy, power, and the ability to encourage and inspire beyond individual expectations. The Bangabandhu speech is evidence of their immeasurable potency.

A simple, but sincere 'I love you' can generate miraculous change to the human mind. The golden words spoken with passion on that day triggered the action that motivated people to rebel and inspired the birth of a nation - Bangladesh.

The rousing March 7 speech by Father of the Nation has finally been included in the UNESCO Memory of the World International Register, which lists the world's most important documentary heritage, and not a day too soon. Irrespective of political differences, whether one is a member of this political party or that party, Bangalees  - individually and collectively  - should be united in celebration of the UNESCO honour. All have benefitted. All can take pride. It's a proud time for Bangladesh, that's long overdue.

The writer is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian, and a foreign friend of Bangladesh

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