January 9, 2019

How do you describe a person of acute intellect and inquisitive mind? How do you put together all his stories when the stories are the testament of Bangladesh? How do you mount a celebrated life? May be through a sketch book; a sketch book where each page contains the sketch of pursuit, the sketch of struggle, the sketch of excellence, the sketch of success. Today, our sketch book will draw the life of Prof. Dr. Muhammad Samad, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Admin), University of Dhaka and also an eminent poet of Bangladesh.

Prof. Samad was only 13 when the war broke-out in Bangladesh. His juvenile mind was deeply wedged by the war. He had seen the war atrocities, but, unlike others he sketched a different picture of the war. He spoke about the harmony of a rural village, where Jatra Song, Jari Song, Martyr Day and Cultural festivals used to take place. He, through his magnificent poems, drew the picture of a bonded Bangladesh, a golden Bangladesh.

As the days went by, Dr. Samad slowly began to realize his purpose of being. He was not an ordinary man, after completion of his study he did PhD in Social Science. He had many tempting offers but refused them all, because, those were binding him to express his thoughts through the language of poem. He knew he had a bigger purpose to serve and that was to express his unconditional love towards Bangladesh through his writings and to document all the chapters of Bangladesh through his words. He wanted to inform the world about Bangladesh through his lens.

As we surf through the poems of Prof. Samad, we also see different sketches and chapters of his life. He took an active part in the Protest Against Autocracy during 1983 through his poem book “The Manifesto of a Political Leader”. He was a government teacher, but it did not stop him to speak the bitter truth and to fight against the odd. He, through his fiery lines, protested against the events that took place after 1975. He remained rebellious through his poems during the era of 80s, as the entire country was passing a volatile time. During the 90s, Bangladesh started seeing some stability and we also witnessed equal tranquility in his poems.

You can measure the success of a poet when the lines of that poet become a mass slogan. The lines of Prof. Samad’s poem ‘Mujib’ was a slogan for mass. It was written in the walls of the cities, it was uttered in the meetings and in the proceedings. There was a time in the early 2000 when Bangladesh was dealing with a negative force against secularism and democracy. Prof. Samad again stood tall and wrote sweltering lines against the evil forces. He has always harnessed the power of his pen whenever he felt the nation is in trouble.

He has not only spoken about the internal issues but also has been equally vocal if someone has said something against Bangladesh from outside. He was one of the very few protestors who actively protested against the initiative of changing the name of West Bengal to Bangla by Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal. Prof. Samad, during that time, wrote a literature which got acclamation from both Bangladesh and India. In his words, “Bangladesh earned its independence and sovereignty through a long struggling armed liberation war, at the cost of blood and dignity, whereas West Bengal as they call it ‘Epar Bangla’; just a state of India.” His literature was relayed through different media and was able to grab the attention of 4 million people.

Recently, Dr. Samad has been approached by two Chinese Architects Lam Kong-Chuen & Cherry Tsang. Lam & Cherry move around globe and try to find out the poems which transcend boundaries, which talk about people, which portray stories and then they depict these poems through their art and architectural designs. They are called the Poet’s Architect. This duo wants to do an exhibition on the poems of Prof. Samad which is in fact a great honor and pride for Bangladesh as this will be first of its kind in Bangladesh. This is also a testimony to his lifelong hard work. According to Lam & Cherry, “Muhammad Samad never repeats voice construction and never yields to the boundary of field, he formulates new concepts of space with a keen eye for humanity and profiles a passionate silhouette of a world citizen.”

Prof. Samad has also led an exalted life as a teacher – in fact, a highly popular one among the students, because of his way of teaching and the ability to mesmerize individuals with his wonderful delivery. He has been teaching for the last 36 years. Prior taking the charge of Pro-Vice Chancellor, he was serving as the vice-chancellor of the University of Information Technology and Sciences (UITS). He was a visiting professor at Winona State University in Minnesota, USA. He has also served as the director of Social Welfare and Research Institute of Dhaka University. Dr. Muhammad Samad is also the President of the National Poetry Council.

An ordinary kid from Jamalpur is now the representative of pride for Bangladesh. He has branded Bangladesh through poems, through his thoughts, through his works. In one hand, he has performed the task of preparing the future leaders of Bangladesh through his teaching and on the other hand he has performed the task of a custodian of Bangladesh through his poems and writings. Certainly, the sketchbook of his life is intensely illustrious.

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