National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam wrote in his poem “All the great creations in the world that are eternally good, half of them are made by women, half by men.” In the biographical analysis of Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib, we find the exact copy of this poem of the national poet.
The greatest achievement of the long struggle under the leadership of Bangabandhu is the independence of Bangladesh. Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib, the noble woman of Bengal, was the inspiration behind these struggles and movements of Bangabandhu. She followed Bangabandhu’s entire political life like a shadow.
Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib was born on August 8, 1930 in the Tungi Para village of Gopalganj district. Her nickname was Renu. Her father’s name was Sheikh Zahurul Haque and mother’s name Hosne Ara Begum. She was the youngest among one brother and two sisters.
Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib is a name of respect and love for the people of Bangladesh. She was by the side of Bangabandhu like a shadow in his entire political life up to the Liberation War and after. That is why Bangabandhu was able to create the dream of independence in the minds of the countrymen. Begum Mujib worked from behind the scenes to implement his political philosophy and ideals. Bangabandhu, Bengalis and the country of Bengal are built on the same formula, just like Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Bangmata Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib – the names that nothing could separate from each other.
Whenever there is any discussion about Bangabandhu, Bangamata naturally comes up there. She got married to Bangabandhu under family arrangements. In the transition from Khoka to Mujib, from Mujib to Bangabandhu and finally from Bangabandhu to the Father of the Nation, the woman whose contribution is undeniable is none other than our Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib.
After Bangabandhu was repeatedly imprisoned by the Pakistani rulers after the declaration of the six-point charter for the liberation of the Bengali nation, Awami League leaders and workers at all levels used to rush to Begum Mujib for advice and inspiration. She used to convey various directions from Bangabandhu to them and inspired them to continue the struggle.
Especially in the Agartala Conspiracy Case, when Pakistani rulers wanted to release Bangabandhu on parole, certain renegade cliques conspired to endanger the freedom struggle. Begum Mujib’s firm stand against parole accelerated Bangladesh’s liberation struggle. It is a fact that will be written in golden letters in the history of Bangladesh’s freedom struggle.
Through the March 7, 1971 speech Bangabandhu gave the nation a correct direction. During the better times of the movement, Bangamata used to entertain the relatives of the oppressed leaders and activists in her house with utmost compassion, listened to the ordeal and took appropriate measures. It was hoped that from Bangamata’s inspirations the leaders and workers would see the light at the end of the tunnel and feel encouraged to continue movement until final victory was won. She used to personally support the families of martyrs and freedom fighters in all possible ways.
Commemorating the memory of her mother, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “Whatever is achieved in the world, there is someone behind it to give motivation. Otherwise, no leader can ever be successful. Similarly, my mother has a huge contribution behind my father’s politics. My mother was politically strong.”
She also said, “My mother was a ‘guerrilla’. While the father was in prison, he used to pass the news to the leaders and workers under the guidance of the father, avoiding the eyes of the detectives. Which intelligence people could never know! That means my mother was a real guerrilla.”
Bangamata raised herself and her children in the ideals of Bangabandhu. Begum Mujib was Bangabandhu’s lifelong companion, not only as a consort but also as a political colleague. Until the last moment of her life, she was by the side of the greatest hero in our history. In a cruel irony of fate, on August 15, 1975 all the members of the family including Bangamata had to embrace martyrdom as the assassins indiscriminately showered bullets on them.
For the first time after the establishment of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, a convention hall has been named after Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib. The hall was unanimously named as Bangmata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Convention Centre where field hospital work is currently going on. As the present Vice-Chancellor, I feel privileged to have proposed naming of the convention hall after Bangamata.
In recognition of the contribution of Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib to the history of Bangladesh’s freedom struggle, the people of Bengal awarded her the title of “Bangmata”. The names of Bangabandhu and Bangamata will be eternal in the history of Bangladesh. On her birthday, we pay deep respect to this great lady from the core of our heart.
Professor Dr. Md. Sharfuddin Ahmed
The writer is the Vice Chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka