Header Ads Widget

Responsive Advertisement



Kachi-Kanchar Mela at 58: Some reflections

Mohammad Amjad Hossain

Today I would like to write about a children organisation of Bangladesh which has crossed 57 years of its existence by now making a history against the backdrop of political turmoil and natural disasters. Since the birth of Pakistan three pioneer children organisations viz Mukul Fouz, Khela Ghar and Kachi-Kanchar Mela had begun their journey in mid-50s. Of course, Mukul Fouz had begun its journey from Calcutta when the country was under the subjugation of the British Raj. Daily Azad, a pioneer Bangla newspaper of Moulana Akram Khan from 1936, opened a page dedicating to the children under the caption: Mukul Mahfil. Mukul Fouz was the product of members of Mukul Mahfil under the guidance of Mohammad Modabber, who used to editing the daily Azad from 1940. The name of Mukul Mahfil was given by the National Poet of Bangladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam.

Over the years of political struggle to establish an independent Bangladesh by saving it from the clutches of Pakistan, Mukul Fouz, which used to follow basically philosophy of Pakistan, had died its natural death following establishment of Bangladesh in 1971. Khela Ghar has been divided into two groups. Only Kachi-Kanchar Mela remains as a unified children organisation as of now. Kachi-Kanchar Mela was established on October 5, 1956 at Tarabagh resident of illustrious legendary poet Sufia Kamal whose association until death on November 20, 1999 had inspired old and young members of this pioneer children organisation in the country. Rokonuzzaman Khan, popularly known by his pseudonym Dadabhai, was the architect of this organisation who used to edit children page: Kachi-Kanchar Ashar of Daily Ittefaq of Tofazzal Hossain Manik Miah.

Being an editor of the children page of Kachi-Kanchar Ashar and Muffazal, page editor of Daily Ittefaq Rokonuzzaman Khan began his journey with handful members of the Ashar to build up a pioneer children organisation against the backdrop of economic and cultural exploitation by Punjabi dominated military-politico elite of Pakistan regime. He tried to imbibe in children a sense of values and tradition of Bangalese and patriotism for the country. Against the backdrop of unhealthy atmosphere Rokonuzzaman Khan had the privilege to enjoy cooperation and guidance from Professor Ajit Kumar Guha, Dr Abdullah Al-Muti Sharafuddin, who became popularly known for writings science stories for the children, Professor Anisuzzaman, who became Professor Emeritus of Dhaka University, and Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin, a pioneer in fine art in the country. All of them were advisors at the initial stage of budding children organisation. Dr Abdullah Al-Muti Sharafuddin was with this children organisation until his death. On many occasions poet Sufia Kamal, Professor Ajit Kumar Guha and Shilpacharya and poet Jasimuddin joined the caravan of the Kachi-Kanchar Mela during erstwhile East Pakistan to travel to different districts and sub-divisions branches of the Mela as a part of organisational tour. Mid 50s and 60s was heyday of the movement of the children organisations. Poet Mahboob Talukdar was the first convener of the Kachi-Kanchar Mela’s Karmi Parishad (workers’ group) and next convener was Khandakar Ibrahim Khaled. It has three branches comprising Upadesta Parishad (advisory board), Shathi Parishad (associate board) and Karmi Parishad.

Kachi-Kanchar Mela had to pass through difficult periods as it maintains independent status and did not succumb to illogical pressure from any quarter to become tail of any political party. Kachi-Kanchar Mela expands with an awareness of the existing social reality. Possibly this is the only children organisation in Bangladesh which has its own building. Initially with the financial assistance from NORAD (Norway Development Assistance) the central Kachi-Kanchar Mela laid the foundation of its building at Sengunbagicha on marshy land given by the government of President Ziaur Rahman in 1980 in perpetuity. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Justice Habibur Rahman inaugurated the building in 1995 with the construction of an auditorium which accommodates around 320 persons. During my diplomatic assignment in Germany I came in contact with Japanese diplomat Shigeharu Maruyama, who incidentally posted to Japan embassy in Dhaka as Minister. On my return to Dhaka I met him in our Foreign Ministry and when he heard of my retirement in December, 2000 he asked an interesting question about my retirement plan. I told him that I would devote my time for children organisation. His immediate reaction was — what type of this children organisation is. I explained in details and he expressed his desire to see the organisation. Having visited the children organisation Shigeharu suggested applying to the embassy for the construction of two more floors to cover entire programme of this children organisation. We were overwhelmed at his suggestion and we added two more floors. Now it is a three-storey building. Another friend of mine Eric Berg, Counsellor of Norway embassy in Dhaka helped me in installing air-condition in the auditorium. I have been associated with this children organisation since 1958 when I organised a branch of the Mela in Kushtia and I established another Mela at Azimpur colony of Dhaka in 1961. From 70s I became an advisor and after the death of Rokonuzzaman Khan the structure of the central Kachi-Kanchar Mela has been changed. I became a joint director while Khandakar Ibrahim Khaled, former Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank, became Director of the Central Kachi-Kanchar Mela, who is steering the wheel of the Mela with success. In my absence poet and architect Robiul Hussein is now Joint-Director.

During lifetime of Rokonuzzaman Khan a group of children from Norway paid a visit to Bangladesh as friends of Kachi-Kanchar Mela and a group of children from Bangladesh headed by Rokonuzzaman Khan paid a return visit to Norway. Thus a good link has been established between Bangladesh and Norway. Presently, the Central Kachi-Kanchar Mela offers classes twice a week in paintings, music, dance and recitation. Added attraction is the introduction of computer classes. The Central Kachi-Kanchar Mela takes pride in organising annual education camp where self-help motivational program, exercises of different nature, Lathi-Khela (stick dance) is held. This provides an opportunity to members of Kachi-Kanchar Mela to interact and exchange their experiences with different Melas around the country. It organises monthly session for budding writers where elderly writers and lyricists join to discuss their writings critically. With the departure of stalwarts from this world, the Central Kachi-Kanchar Mela holds birthday anniversary of poet Sufia Kamal and Rokonuzzaman Khan while it organises recitation and painting competitions in memory of poet Jasimuddin and Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin. Science fair is organised in remembrance of Dr Abdullah Al-Muti Sharafuddin. It organises functions to celebrate Bangla Naba Barsha as a part of tradition of Kachi-Kanchar Mela. The Central Kachi-Kanchar Mela is the only children organisation that promotes traditional Bangali culture. I can say proudly that this is the single children organisation in Bangladesh whose children have bagged many international awards in paintings by participating in exhibitions held in New Delhi, Tokyo, Seoul, Ankara and London. On the occasion of completion of golden jubilee of the Central Mela on October 5, 2006 the Central Kachi-Kanchar Mela held a two-day cultural programme on December 15-16 December, 2006 which included a children’s parade, exchanging perspectives on the Liberation War and performances by children from its branches of Khagrachhori, Srimongal, Moulvibazar, Ullapara, Shirajganj, Kushtia, Manikgonj; and eleven eminent personalities, including Dr Anisuzzaman, Nirmal Kanti Das Gupta, Mohammad Amjad Hossain (this writer), Lyricist Faiz Ahmed, artist Hashem Khan, Shamusuzzaman Khan, present Director-General of Bangla Academy, Mohammad Kutubuddin, Mir Zahir Hossain, Dr Ali Asgar, Dr Zafar Iqbal and Professor Shafiul Alam were honoured while posthumous awards were given to Rokonuzzaman Khan aka Dadabhai, Begum Sufia Kamal, Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia, Dr Abdullah Al-Muti Sharafuddin, Mohammed Nasiruddin ,MA Wadud, Barrister Abdul Haque, Luthful Haider Chowdhury, Hasan Jaan, Professor Ajit Kumar Guha and Shukhendu Chakrabarty. The Norwegian and Japanese embassy received award in the organisation category for assisting Central Kachi-Kanchar Mela. While I was on a visit to Bangladesh, I was accorded a reception followed by cultural soiree and dinner at the office of Central Mela in August 2009 and presented a crest by Director of the Mela Khandakar Ibrahim Khaled in recognition of my contribution to Kachi-Kanchar Mela. Last but not the least, dinner prepared in the kitchen of the Mela by families of the members of Kachi-Kanchar Mela was served. It was a pleasant surprise for me. Until I departed from Bangladesh in December 2003 there was no kitchen in the Mela’s office. Recently Kachi-Kanchar Mela introduced workshops on debate and adolescent healthcare in cooperation with UNICEF and Channel I TV network. The Central Kachi-Kanchar Mela has the best library one could think of to cater to the needs of the children. It has more than five thousands books covering a wide range of subjects, both Bangla and English. Recently the library has been reorganised in line with library science with expertise knowledge of experienced librarian of Dhaka University.

I wish on its birthday Central Kachi-Kanchar Mela grows from strength to strength.

Mohammad Amjad Hossain, a retired diplomat from Bangladesh and former President of Nova chapter of Toastmasters International Club, and live long member of the

Kachi-Kanchar Mela, writes from Virginia.

Post a Comment