When Mandela came to Bangladesh

When Mandela came to Bangladesh

Nelson Mandela is a household name in our country. You might think it’s because of our natural inclination towards rebels and revolutionaries, but I beg to differ.

Birth of a Madiba

Mandela, or Madiba as his people call him, was not just a rebel, he was also a visionary. Born during the dark times of apartheid in 1918, on 18th July, he envisioned his world free of racism, poverty and discrimination- which he worked for till he couldn’t anymore.

Mandela in Bangladesh

Mandela visited Bangladesh in March 1997, on the 25th years anniversary of Bangladeshi independence.

Now, you might chalk it off as another diplomatic visit of some Prime Minister to a war-ridden country. Or you can try to understand why Madiba was closer to our cause than most.

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Nelson Mandela smiles during a meeting in Johannesburg in this file photo dated 2 June 2009. Picture: Nelson Mandela Foundation/SAPA

Nelson Mandela has been championed all around the world for his peaceful approach to remove apartheid from South African system. But when those were met with violence, he didn’t hesitate to return fire, so to speak.

He favoured peace till peace wasn’t an option anymore.

Mandela’s reflection in us

Much alike to the beginning of our journey to independence. We kept trying to resolve the national issues peacefully. Until West Pakistani government pushed us to the limit and we finally pushed back.

As Nelson Mandela has been such a powerful figure in history, it’s often of great value to go the length in understanding his contributions and not trust his portrait created by the same source that helped imprison him for 27 years.

For a country like ours was 20 years back during his visit, sympathetic words like “I have come to Bangladesh to pay homage to a nation that has fought for its sovereignty. Celebrating this blood-soaked independence, I am here to say today that escaping the clutches of oppression and the autocratic rule is never easy”, were of paramount importance.

It’s been 20 years since, and it’s only fair to say we need to revisit what he said instead of just tidbits of his life.

Happy 101st Birthday Madiba, we remember you.

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