The 19th death anniversary of the late eminent poet-organiser-activist Sufia Kamal will be observed today.
Different socio-cultural organisations have chalked out elaborate programmes to observe the day in a befitting manner.
Bangladesh National Museum will arrange a commemorative programme today at its Sufia Kamal Auditorium where speakers will shed light on life and works of Sufia, an iconic figure of the Bengali nationalist movement during the 1950s and ‘60s and liberation war activist.
Sufia Kamal was born on June 20, 1911 at Shayestabad, Barishal. Her father was Abdul Bari and mother was Sabera Begum.
Back then women’s education was prohibited so a young Sufia was deprived of formal education but she did learn Bengali, Hindi, English, Urdu, Arabic, Kurdish and Persian languages from house tutors.She wrote her first story Sainik Badhu (The Soldier Bride) in 1923, which was published in the Tarun (Youth).Her first book of poems, Sanjher Maya (The Eventide Spell), was published from Kolkata in 1938. Both Kazi Nazrul Islam and Rabindranath Tagore praised her for her work.
A civil society leader and champion of women’s rights, Sufia Kamal played an active role in the language movement, struggle for freedom, the liberation war and every human rights movement.
She was involved in the movement to protest the embargo on Tagore songs imposed by then government in the late 1960s and was also involved in the mass-upsurge of 1969 and the non-cooperation movement of March 1971. She played a crucial role in the emancipation of women in post-liberation Bangladesh.
She authored more than a dozen volumes of poetry and several volumes of short stories, short novels, travelogues, etc.
Her Ekatturer Diary tells the untold stories of the Bengalis in 1971.]Sufia Kamal also edited the women’s magazine Begum.
Her poems have a wide range of themes drawn from the rich tradition of Bengali literature.]Her works have been translated into various languages including Chinese, English, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, Hindi, Urdu and others.
A Russian translation of her first book of poetry, Sanjher Maya, was published in the Soviet Union in 1984. Bangla Academy published Mother of Pearls and Other Poems, an English translation of some of her most famous poems, in 2001 and Sufia Kamaler Rachana Samagra in 2002.
Sufia Kamal was the founding-chairperson of The Bangladesh Women’s Rehabilitation Board, Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, Dustha Punarbasan Sangstha. She was the president of Chhayanaut, Bangladesh Protibondhi Foundation and Nari Kalyan Sangstha.
Sufia Kamal received a large number of awards including the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz (1961), a major national award conferred by the Pakistani government that she returned in 1969 in protest at the then government’s oppressive treatment to Bengalis, the Bangla Academy Award for Literature (1962), Ekushey Padak (1976), Jatiya Kavita Parishad Award (1995), Women’s Federation for World Peace Crest (1996), Begum Rokeya Padak (1996), Deshbandhu CR Das Gold Medal (1996), Independence Day Award (1997) and others.
She also received a number of international awards, including, Lenin Centenary Jubilee Medal from the Soviet Union (1970), and the Czechoslovakia Medal (1986). Sufia Kamal passed away on November 20, 1999.