Words of hope from Lubna Mariam
Bangladesh is proud of its rich pool of patriotic cultural personalities. Take the case of danseuse Lubna Mariam who went to refugee camps and war zones during the Liberation War as a member of the 'Bangladesh Mukti Sangrami Shilpi Shangstha' -- a troupe of artistes. As a part of the group, Mariam managed to stir the patriotic sentiments of the freedom fighters. At the training camps, music provided a much-needed boost to the morale of the freedom fighters and Bengali refugees. Through her art, Mariam conveyed that the dream of a sovereign Bangladesh was within reach.
However the modest artiste shrugs off the credit for her role in the Liberation War. As she says, "I don't think my individual contribution was significant; we were part of a movement. This was the people's war. I firmly believe that our boys didn't receive their due in terms of recognition. We fail to recognise that people from all the villages and every nook and corner came forward to free the country in those troubled times. Their selfless sacrifice to a greater cause is certainly worth paying heed to. My father was a sector commander at the time and young boys with no arms or ammunition would approach him saying that their mothers had sent them to fight for the country."
However Mariam has her reservations about the current scene in Bangladesh. “We didn't want a country where people would be denied of their rights. Obnoxious power play and corruption have taken over. The leading political parties lack honest interest in serving the people; politicians use religion as a tool.”
However, not all is lost. Like many others of her ilk, Mariam has set up a cultural organisation called 'Shadhona.' Through 'Shadhona,' Mariam has made it her mission to give a boost to Bangladeshi culture.
“There is no vision in the cultural arena today; hardly anyone takes up the cause of preserving and promoting our cultural traditions,” she says, adding that there is a positive side as well. “Our beautiful country has great diversity. The people here are what we may term as 'Shonar Manush.' We have great potential which we should capitalise on.”
The writer is a freelance contributor.