Today is the 18th death anniversary of eminent poet-activist Sufia Kamal.
Different socio-cultural organisations will organise commemorative programmes marking the day.
Sufia Kamal, founding president of Bangladesh Mohila Parishad and also a pioneer of Bengali women’s emancipation, was an influential cultural figure in the Bengali nationalist movements of the 1950s and 60s and a civil society leader in the country after independence.
Bangabandhu Sangskritik Jote, Bangladesh Mohila Parishad and others will hold commemorative programmes marking the day.
Sufia Kamal was born on June 20, 1911 at her maternal uncle’s home at Shayestabad, Barisal. Her father was Abdul Bari and mother was Sabera Begum.
Since she belonged to a conservative family at a time when women’s education was prohibited, she was deprived of formal education, but she did learn Bengali, Hindi, English, Urdu, Arabic, Kurdish and Persian languages from house tutors in her childhood.
Sufia’s first poem, Bashanti (Of Spring), was published in Saogat magazine in 1926. Her first collection of poems, Sanjher Maya (Evening Enchantment), was published in 1938 with a foreword by national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.
Poems of her other collections such as Mrittikar Ghran, Ekatturer Diary, Benibinyas Samay To Ar Nei, and Ekale Amader Kal demonstrate her skill as a romantic and socially conscious poet.
In 1931, she became the first Bengali Muslim woman to be a member of the Indian Women’s Federation.
She edited the women’s magazine Begum before partition of the subcontinent in 1947.
She was an excellent organiser. In 1956, she organised the children’s organisation Kochi-Kachar Mela.
Sufia Kamal had been very vocal in national and social issues. She was active in the Language Movement of 1952 and was part of a movement protesting an embargo on Rabindranath Tagore imposed by the government of Pakistan in late 1960s.
She also renounced the Tamgha-I-Imtiaz award given to her by the then Pakistan government.
She strongly supported the mass uprising of 1969 and the non-cooperation movement in March 1971.
After the independence, she worked for punishment of the war criminals.
She received numerous awards including Bangla Academy Award for Literature (1962), Lenin Centenary Jubilee Medal (1970) from the Soviet Union, Ekushey Padak (1976), Czechoslovakia Medal (1986), Jatiyo Kabita Parishad Award (1995), Begum Rokeya Medal (1996), Deshbandhu CR Das Gold Medal (1996) and Independence Day Award (1997).
Sufia Kamal died on November 20, 1999.
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