Are the Elders LISTENING?

YouthThere's a lot of talk going on these days about the state of this  country and the lives we are living. Speeches from podiums addressed to the masses; late night talk show debates -- all heated and impassioned. Yet, it so often seems to be the old who speak out. Where are the voices of the youth, and what do we have to say about the world we find ourselves in?

As promised, the Urban Youth Festival II commenced from the 24th of October, and continued throughout the rest of the week. Despite the political unrest leaving the city at a standstill in most cases, Goethe-Institut buzzed with enthusiasm and passion as the workshops and exhibitions went on according to schedule. There were talks, there was poetry, and there was a whole lot of positive energy.
The inaugural session took place at 6:30PM on the 24th of October. An opening speech by Dr. Ferdinand von Weyhe, Charge D' Affairs of the German Embassy in Dhaka, was followed by a few words from Judith Mirschberger, the director of Goethe-Institut. The keynote speaker, stand-up comedian Naveed Mahbub, kicked off the show with words of encouragement, and humour, of course. The evening ended with a powerful mime skit performed by Dhaka university students on the issue of student politics.
YouthIn the following week, the festival moved forward with the following events:
A Tolerance Workshop
For those of you who have witnessed or heard about “Vagina Monologues” that took place earlier this year, Tasaffy Hossain and Trimita Chakma continue to advocate human rights, equality and diversity through yet another thought provoking workshop on tolerance. “Tolerance doesn't necessarily require one to agree with my ideology. I feel as though a general acceptance of the fact that my or anyone else's opinion exists contradictory to your own, is substantial progress,” explained Tasaffy Hossain on being asked about the extent of tolerance that was being discussed in the said workshop. Through interactive activities and panelled discussions, the participants were exposed to alternate perspectives and greater understanding of tolerance.
Film Screenings
On October 28th, a short film exploring the attitude of young people towards the rapidly changing world and its opportunities was presented by Akaliko-Kaaktalio with the help of Dhaka Electronica scene. Khan Mohammad Faisal and Imran R. Khan reinforce the idea of the length to which the youth is capable of impacting and influencing thoughts in this rapidly changing world, through “Invisible Boundaries”.
On October 29th, three aspiring artists (Mahjabin Khan, Mahde Hasan and Abid Hasan Khan) shed light on the different convictions that may cage a person through their choices and opinions. “The Sky isn't always Blue” explores the religious laws forced upon women, focusing on the different ways religious guidelines are used and misused according to an individual's perspective.
The Paradox called Secularism: Abdulla Al Mahmud and Tamanna Esabela tried to recognise the extent to which secularism can determine the progress in achieving democracy in this country through panel discussions with experts.
YouthThe panel included Dr. Dilara Chowdhury of North South University, Dhaka; Dr. Abdur Rob Khan of North South University and Arshi Saleem Hashmi of National Defence University, Islamabad (on Skype)
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My City. My Home. My Identity: Samira Tamrin Ahmed and Towfique Ahmed Khan dug into the issues of identity in the urban scene through simple yet thought provoking questions at an open mic session on the 28th of October.
The Youth-Who? Where? Why?: Another open mic session by Fahima Durrat and Ahmed Shawki showcased the youth whose active participation in the development of various sectors of the urban landscape has contributed significantly in the progress of this nation.
Workshop on Lyric Writing
In collaboration with String Theories School of Music, Ashique M. Fahim led the participants through the process of song writing. Basic music theory, melody rhythms, structure, lyrical development and 'hooks' were looked at in detail.
Slam Poetry Presentation
Ahmad Ibrahim, Shaer Reaz, Kazi Tahsin Agaz and Ata Khan Mojlish, patrons of the Origami Poetry Slam art installation, introduced their project. “What would you say if you could say anything you wanted to and everyone was listening but no one was judging?” Taking anecdotes and inspiration from all over Dhaka city, the group generated a beautiful poetry which sits on a large canvas at the roof of Goethe Institut, surrounded by hundreds of paper birds containing messages and empty spaces for new messages. Freedom of speech at its best!
Session by Dhaka Electronica Scene
The end of this exciting week was marked by mind melting electronic music by Dhaka Electronica Scene. The turn-up was overwhelming and the tracks soon got everyone at the venue moving. They had no other option! With some house music going on and the crowd dispersing, the entire place turned into a dance-floor and everyone was groovin' to the music. I enjoyed from a creepy corner; watching the people not care about their surroundings and just float away to the music. It was quite the eye-opening experience for anyone who's not into electronic music.
Though the interactive sessions are over, the exhibitions will stay on till the 24th of November.
A sculpture portraying the observations made on today's youth by Sanjay Biswas and Protik Biswas. Though more and more opportunities present themselves in the society today, most of the youth are rendered aimless, guideless and even helpless by their own “thoughtlessness”.
YouthPawns Vs. Royals
The inspiration of this art instillation lies in the rising number of politically aware youngsters. Ahmad Ibrahim, Kazi Tahsin Agaz and team use uniformly painted pawns on a chessboard to represent the masses who are no longer guarding the King and Queen but closing in on them.
Portrait of Politics
A.J. Ghani uses powerful photographs with past political references to represent the situation in our country without actually turning it into documentary photography. It was refreshing in contrast to all the pictures of Shahbag that had been up for so long.
We are Bangladeshi, too
“Religion or lack of it has nothing to do with our national identity.” This is the message that Anika Mariam Ahmed's graffiti transmits. Bearing the recent Shahbag Movement in mind, Anika's graffiti raises the question of how atheism is being frowned upon and not tolerated in a state that was supposed to be secular from the beginning.
SHOUT was the communication partner of the festival.



Photo: Darshan Chakma


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