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An Enlightened Man Recognised
Litterateur cum teacher cum television presenter Abdullah
Abu Sayeed hardly needs an introduction. While he has a strong
claim of eminence in all of these fields, his most enduring
creation is the Biswa Shahitya Kendra (The Centre
of World Literature). Since the early seventies, Sayeed has
led nothing less than a revolution with Alokito Manush
Chai (Creating Enlightened Individuals), a mission he
has been pursuing for the last three decades.
Sayeed's remarkable work has won him many accolades besides
his disciples' respect, but this year he brought both for
himself and Bangladesh a unique honour when he won the prestigious
Ramon Magasaysay Award 2004, also dubbed as the Nobel in Asia.
In its citation the Ramon Magasaysay Foundation emphasised
Sayeed's "contributions to his cultivating in the youth
of Bangladesh a love for literature and its humanising values
through exposure to great books of Bangladesh and the world".
Besides, his contributions to journalism, literature and creative
communication arts were also mentioned in the citation when
Prof Sayeed accepted the award in an elaborate ceremony in
Manila, the capital of the Philippines.
Sayeed believes that a good book contains thoughts, dreams,
visions, beauties and all the precious things mankind has
created both in the past and the present, so by exposing young
people to the greatest books of the world he wanted to create
"The Enlightened Individual" for which he has devoted
all his energies. The Biswa Sahitya Kendra with its
amazing collection of books both Bangla and Bangla translation
of many world masterpieces have contributed to the intellectual
upbringing of an entire generation of youth, but, more importantly,
he has succeeded in reviving the almost dying culture of reading
among young people. BSK is not just a library where one goes
to read books, it has also developed a network among many
of the schools across the country so that students of those
particular schools have access to the BSK collections. The
centre has also initiated mobile libraries, the first of its
kind in the country, which go to different specified places
in the city following a particular schedule, thus allowing
interested readers, who cannot make it to the library, to
borrow books virtually from their doorsteps. Though BSK's
principal focus is on reading books it also arranges workshops
on filmmaking, photography, creative writing etc and organises
film shows and a variety of cultural shows for of the intellectual
development of the youths.
even at 60 plus, Sayeed's energy is still in great supply.
He can often be spotted in the front line of a small procession
holding banners that read "Save the Buriganga" or
"Want Safe streets" or "Beware of the Deadly
Dengue". In spite of his stringent daily routine he has
time to take the streets for a good cause or utilise his celebrity
status to create mass awareness about anything that will benefit
The Cricketing Sensation
Cricket is a game that requires a touch of skill, a dash of
talent, a fistful of determination and a bucket of hard work.
These are the essential ingredients of being an international
star in the realm of cricket and Mohammad Ashraful is an upcoming
talent who has all this and more. Ashraful was born on 9th
September, 1984 in Dhaka. Making a name in the cricketing
arena, he made history by becoming the youngest man, or boy,
ever to score a century in Test Cricket at the tender age
of sixteen. This was the fastest hundred for any Bangladeshi
and more so, it was his debut against match against Sri Lanka.
He shared the Man-of-the-Match award with Sri Lanka's Muttiah
Muralitharan that day. But life was not always so. He started
his career at a very young stage, a leg spinner who was also
good at batting. He soon joined the under 19 team and from
there, quickly shot up to the Bangladesh national team. Since
then, every minute has been a sensational adventure. Ashraful
is an aggressive middle order batsman and is one of the shining
stars of Bangladesh cricket. After Bangladesh's tour of Sri
Lanka in 2002 Ashraful was benched for quite sometime. However,
after his undisputed contribution of 108 in the Patron's Trophy
for Bangladesh "A", Ashraful was back into the national
team. In his comeback match he scored a remarkable 98, only
to be undone by the magical bowling of Heath Streak.
still in his learning stage, is now a talented batsman. He
has made a reputation of playing all kinds of shots in the
book but has a knack of throwing away his wickets at odd times.
The only thing to account for this is his youthful impulsiveness.
He showed what he was made of this December 2004, when he
scored his second century - a colossal 158 not out - against
the Indian cricket team during their tour of Bangladesh. Ashraful
now holds the record for the highest individual test score
by any Bangladeshi. It was an inning of rare brilliance for
Ashraful, a milestone in his career. He had won the battle
but the war was lost, as Bangladesh lost to India that day.
night on December 26 was a night to rejoice as the Bangladesh
side wrote a new chapter in their history. They took on the
visiting Indian team in the second ODI and won. Mohammad Ashraful
gave a stunning performance whacking two sixes and one four
in a fine 28 runs off 48 balls. This was their first victory
on home turf and it came on their 100th ODI. The whole stadium
exploded with not just the audience there, but also the millions
on television all over the country, backing their team as
they inched their way to victory.
is the 'new kid on the block' and he is here to shake things
The Music Queen
Hers is not the typical Bangali woman's soft, mellow voice,
it's rather slightly on the rough, husky side. The lyrics
of her songs are not exactly refined, but often colloquial,
sometimes even rustic. But it is with that unconventional
combination that she achieves a distinct quality that the
audience finds irresistible. Her strength doesn't lie in the
soothing effect on the ear, rather she kind of stirs up the
audience's heart and demands their response. Thus when she
comes on stage the audience goes into a frenzy and when she
sings out the audience invariably joins in chorus. Her infectious
charm and undeniable talent has made her one of the most popular
entertainers of the country. With an unbelievable 600 audio
albums to her credit she is unarguably the most adored singer
of the country. At a time when band musicians are the craze
in live concert shows she is indeed the biggest crowd puller.
Begum's initiation into music occurred early. She was a mere
child when she accompanied her singer father Modhu Boyati
at first as an audience but very soon as a co-performer. Her
father aside Matal Razzaque Dewan was another of her guru
who she considers her mentor. She took to music almost unknowingly,
but then she must have dipped deep into the sea of music and
come out intoxicated, for ever. She never looked back again
and never even distantly thought of doing something different.
The kind of music she used to perform like Marfati, Boithoki,
Murshidi can roughly fall under the genre of mystic songs.
was not always rosy though. There were also occasions when
she did albums entirely free of cost and when those albums
became popular the producer offered her Tk 2,000, not for
the ones she had already done, but for the one she would do
next. That too on the condition that if it didn't sell well
she would be bound to pay the honorarium back. Mumtaz didn't
have to pay back-- the album sold out instantly and suddenly
Mumtaz became extremely busy. At times she was recording two
albums a day. "I used to be handed down the lyrics and
the music tracks minutes ago and there used to be hardly any
time for rehearsal and I had to record it at one go,"
she reveals in an interview with the Daily Star last May.
Some of her most famous music albums include Return Ticket,
Ashol Boithoki, Murshider Talim, Ronger Bazar etc.
Mumtaz sings other varieties than those of mystic songs her
concentration remains there. One of Mumtaz's great achievements
has been to broaden the audience base of mystic songs which
has been largely confined to rural areas and rural people.
And most surprisingly today's middle class urbanite youths
also make a part of her fans.
a person Mumtaz is a woman of great kindness who is ever ready
to extend a helping hand to people who come to her. She was
an active supporter in the establishment of an eye hospital
in her native Shingair village.
Acting the O's
“Getting an 'A' in Bangla was a big shock for me!"
exclaims Asheque. The tall and slim youngster with black rimmed
glasses seemed very indifferent to the fact that he actually
got a total of 11 'A's in his O level examinations held in
the year 2004, the highest this year and the second highest
so far, after Rezwan Haque, who got a total of 12 'A's in
2003, the highest in the world. A student of South Breeze
School, Dhaka, Asheque Elahi Shams made his family, friends
and school proud with his outstanding results, and clinched
the Daily Star Award as well.
had taken on a total of 11 subjects in two sittings, comprising
of Bangla, English, Economics, Accounting, Computing, Commerce,
Pure Math, Biology, English, Chemistry and Physics. "I
was terrified during my Bangla exam and was really bewildered
with the result actually," says Asheque. "I had
never really done all that well in my mock exams at school
and truly speaking, never had much hope in Bangla, especially
grammar. I had registered for some of the subjects just a
month or so before the exam," he goes on. "I had
major problems with my project in Computing and never realised
that I would get an 'A' in it."
claims to be an average student, just like any other from
his class. "I am actually very lazy and simply cannot
think of studying for hours at a stretch," says Asheque,
revealing his study secrets. "I did everything at the
very last moment and never really went to all the trouble
of studying beforehand. I did take extra help and would go
for tuition for certain subjects. However, I also watched
a lot of TV, watched movies and had fun as well. I think studying
right in the end helped me remember everything."
he feel absolutely delighted with his results and the fact
that he had the highest score this year? "Not really,"
he replies. "Everyone in my class got all 'A's in the
subjects they registered for. In fact, I think this year we
had some of the best students in the batch. Though I did feel
happy about my grades, since they will help me get into a
good college now."
is now working hard for his A-levels and looks forward to
studying in Princeton University. "I do plan to com back
to my country after my studies," informs Asheque. "I
hope everyone does, for that matter."
(R) thedailystar.net 2004