The 108th birth anniversary of poet Sufia Kamal will be observed today.
A pioneer of Bengali women’s emancipation, Sufia Kamal, also founder president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad and Chhayanaut, was born on June 20, 1911 at Shayestabad, Barishal.
Since women’s education was prohibited during her childhood, she could not get academic education. She learnt different languages from her house tutors.
Little did anyone know then about the latent potential in the young girl that would turn her into a major cultural icon in the nationalist movements of the 1950s and 60s and an important civil society leader in the independent Bangladesh.
Sufia’s life is eventful and awe-inspiring. She played multiple roles as she lurched from crisis to crisis until she found her true calling: as a socially conscious litterateur.
In 1918, Sufia went to Kolkata with her mother where she came to meet the person who would inspire her throughout her life, Begum Rokeya, the celebrated feminist writer and social worker.
Sufia’s first poem, Basanti (Of Spring), was published in 1926. But her literary career took off more than a decade later when with the publication of her first collection of short stories, Keyar Kanta (Thorns of the Keya Tree), in 1937, and a year later, her first book of poems, Sanjher Maya (Evening Enchantment) was published. The latter bore a foreword from Kazi Nazrul Islam and attracted praise from the likes of Rabindranath Tagore.
She was also active in the language movement of 1952.
She took part in the movement to protest the embargo on Tagore imposed by the then government in the late 1960s. She was also involved in the mass-upsurge of 1969 and the non- cooperation movement of March 1971. She also renounced the ‘Tamgha-e-Imtiaz’ award given to her by the Pakistan government.
The state honoured her with the Independence Award, the highest civilian honour, in 1997.
Sufia Kamal passed away on November 20, 1999.