50 years of independence

The 1971 memory project

I am starting this project with the hope that people across the globe can help me identify and hopefully trace as many people as possible in these photographs. I shall be regularly uploading images and linking them up with my social media. Please comment, link, tag, share these images and help me locate the people in them. Please also feel free to share insights into the situation, particularly if you happen to have been present.

I would like to complete this by 2021, when I would like to curate a major show to commemorate 50 years of Independence. Please feel free to send me pictures to. Please try to provide as much information as you can about the photograph and the photographer. Ideally we would like all the photographs to be credited.

Thanks for your help.

Shahidul Alam.

Here is the first image. It was taken by one of our finest photojournalists, and a dear friend, Rashid Talukder. The photograph was taken on the 10th January 1972, when Mujib returned to an independent Bangladesh upon his release from captivity in Pakistan. The person dangling from the jeep with the Rollei hanging is another famous Bangladeshi photographer Aftab Ahmed:

THE RETURN TO BANGLADESH OF SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN, RELEASED FROM CAPTIVITY IN PAKISTAN. PHOTO: RASHID TALUKDER/DRIK/MAJORITY WORLD

MEMORY & IDENTITY

WORKSHOPS in Nepal by Annu Palakunnathu Matthew

Organised by Photo Circle 3 – 6 December 2012 


Old photographs remind us of our past and where we have come from and the silent stories that these photographs insinuate. Participants will reconsider notions of perception of memory and identity as they relate to history and photography?s presumed veracity. To create work, participants will explore existing photo archives, their own family photographs, film footage and objects related to their families in order to create work related to their identity and perceived memories. The workshop?s primary focus will be related to photography but participants can use this as a springboard for creating work in other media such as collages, stop motion animations, videos and installations, sound installations, oral histories, etc. Discussions and slide shows will be conducted in the mornings and students are expected to work on their projects in the afternoons. This workshop is for anyone- writers, musicians, housewives, photographers- who would like to explore the way memory can be shaped and reshaped. Continue reading “MEMORY & IDENTITY”

Archiving 1971


Photo: Don Mccullin

Archiving?1971

By Sharmin Ahmed

Star Weekend

Winston Churchill said, ?History is written by the victors.? And when history is one-sided, it becomes a propaganda instrument. Archiving is a form of respecting not only history but the truth, and it is with the motive of promoting the truth that documentation of history must be done. ?Archiving 1971?, a programme by Drik to collect oral, textual and visual resources to establish a one stop repository of the historical 1971 War of Liberation for Bangladesh began on that promise

The aim is to bring together a team of researchers, social scientists, historians, archivists and other professionals to assemble definitive archives of this important chapter in the country’s history. The 10-year plan includes not only collating materials from across the world but also generate the economic resources necessary to build permanent physical archives. It will help academics, researchers and others to make rigorous analysis and draw inspiration from the repository.

Continue reading “Archiving 1971”

Afsan Chowdhury in conversation with Sophia Balagamwala

Oak Fellow Afsan Chowdhury Afsan Chowdhury was born in 1954. He has had a parallel career in development work and the media. He has been active in multi-disciplinary research, media relations, journalism, and program development for two decades, and is one of the editors of an authoritative work on Bangladesh’s War of Independence. He held a high position in UNICEF, but left to become a freelancer and social activist. He was also the BBC’s correspondent in Bangladesh but left to concentrate on development-related work. In 1994, he established, HASAB, a funding nonprofit for organizations working in the area of HIV, STDs, and AIDS.He was Contributing Producer for a number of BBC World Service series, and is the author of four novels. Afsan has compiled an extensive set of audio interviews of ordinary Bangladeshis as well as high profile people in Bangladesh and India on their experiences of 1971.
Sophia Balagamwala is the Director of Interactive Projects at the Citizens Archive of Pakistan, a non profit organization dedicated to Cultural and Historic Preservation. She is responsible for conceptualizing and curating exhibitions  that exhibit oral histories, video, photography, and other archival material with the aim to to engage and educate the community and foster an awareness of Pakistan’s true history. She recently curated State of Being so Divided, an exhibition commemorating the transformation of the subcontinent, and fortieth anniversary of the creation of the state of Bangladesh.
The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) is a non profit organization dedicated to Cultural and Historic Preservation.
CAP has focused its attention on the tradition of oral story-telling in Pakistan, emphasizing the importance of such narratives in a dialogue on national identity. Our organization has three main goals: to preserve and provide access to the archive, to build and support educational programs, and to develop educational products based on the testimonies collected.
Afsan and Sophia will participate in a short discussion during the launch of the 1971 archives at the National Press Club on the 12th February 2012. The programme can be seen online at drik.tv from 11:00 am Bangladesh Standard Time (GMT +6)
Related Articles:
 Songs of a Wounded Image
Archiving 1971
 

Witness

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6th July 2005
?This man lying here, brought me to this world. He educated me, clothed and fed?me, stood by my own bed in hospitals, stood in the gap for me at school, prayed?for me unceasingly, blessed me, guided me and counseled me and gave me?strength to take the next step. Yet, I watch him lying here, and there is nothing I?can do to stop him from dying??These were my thoughts on a chilly morning in the last room on the left wing of?Lakeside Medical Centre in Kandy five years ago. I felt helpless and useless.
Here I was seated and watching his life ebb away and I could do nothing.?What use was I? Or anything else in this world, if it can?t save the life of a man?such as him ? my father. ?God, are you really there?? I asked a blank wall.?It was also Terryll?s birthday, so I had plans to go back to Colombo that day and?return the next day, to uselessly stand by him. Yet I wanted to be there, in my?desperation to share whatever he was going through. To let him know I was?there, because I believed that even in his comatose state, he heard our voices.

For only a week before, I had spent the whole day with him near his bedside and?sang all the old Tamil songs we used to sing as children. And I saw a smile and?a tear run down his cheek. So he heard me. And that tiny factor was comforting.?What was I trying to do? Ease my conscience? For all the time I did not spend?with him? For the trouble I put him through as a teenager? For the anxiety I gave?him as an adult? I didn?t know. Perhaps he knew. We bonded that day like never?before. Even in his state, we connected. Like we always did. My father and I.

I stood up to leave, my eyes never leaving the respirator and his one hand on?his belly moving up and down which was the only sign of life. And suddenly the?movement stopped. Just like that. I knew the end was here. I handed my baby?(Zoe was then nearly 2 years) to the nurse and although we were asked to leave?the room, I wanted to stay by his side. To make sure they did everything right.

Suddenly everything was clear to me. This was the end. It was time to let go.?This man lying here will no longer be my strength. I had to be his. I cradled his?head in my hands, I whispered ?Dada I love you. We all love you. Go in peace.??The medics turned him face up. He grimaced with his eyes closed. I put his?hands together, straightened his legs and once again held his head up so the?blood would flow out and not block his throat. I didn?t cry. I wanted him released.

His pulse had already stopped. The doctor asked if they could use the electric?shocks on him as a routine procedure. I told them to leave him alone. His face?relaxed, he looked so peaceful. I put my head down on his chest. There was?nothing. My everything was suddenly nothing. I still didn?t cry. I helped the nurses?take out the tubes and clean him up.

He looked so peaceful, in a long time. Yet through the 7 months since diagnosis,?he never once complained. Not even when they stuck needles in his stomach?to release the fluids. He would smile and thank the nurses and compliment on a?good job done. I turned around and held the doctor?s hands and thanked for the?efforts, I held the nurses hands one by one and thanked them too. That is what?he would have done. Blessed them and thanked them profusely. The pathologist?covered his face with his arm and sobbed against the wall. Dada had coaxed him?several years ago to pursue his studies and make a man of himself. There were?nurses in the room he had recommended for jobs.

I filled out the death certificate calmly. Everything was so clear and programmed.?Name of deceased: Walter Jonathan Sinniah. Time of death: 1.45pm. Cause of?death: General System Failure due to multifocal carcinoma of the liver. Parent?s?name: Peter Murugesu Sinniah and Mary Sinniah. Place of Birth: Deniyaya.?Place of burial: General Cemetery, Mahiyawa. Witness of death: Jeevani?Fernando. Relationship to deceased: Daughter. I couldn?t write anymore.?I wanted to remain a witness to his life rather than his death. I had witnessed 35?years of it that day. And even now, it is his extraordinary life that challenges me?on a daily basis. Not his death.

Jeevani Fernando