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Confusion: Bangabandhu’s 99th or 100th birth anniversary?

Sir Frank Peters :: I am confused… totally confused… and I am sure there are millions more just like me.

In some Bangladeshi newspapers on Sunday news stories heralded Bangabandhu’s birthday anniversary as his 99th. Other publications made claim it was his 100th. Which are correct?

By my calculations, if Bangabandhu was born on March 17, 2019, Sunday was his 99th birthday anniversary, NOT his 100th. (2019 minus 1920 equals 99).

One distinguished publication headlined their glowing tribute “100th birthday of Bangabandhu celebrated”. Even Bangabandhu (the wonderful and great man that he was) did not have 100 (or even 99) birthdays. He, like the rest of us had ONE birthday (the day on which we were born) and all the other dates that followed were birth ANNIVERSARIES.

I’m fully aware that: “Happy anniversary to you… Happy anniversary to you… Happy anniversary dear… (whoever)… Happy anniversary to you” does not quite have the same rhyming pleasant ring to it as the traditional “Happy birthday to you” when sung, but if we accept a person has only one birth then the former is correct (with poetic license for the other). 

Similarly, a person dies only once and all the dates that follow are death anniversaries.

So, was Bangabandhu born March 17, 2019 (and Sunday was his 100th birth anniversary)? Or was he born on March 17, 1920 (which makes Sunday his 99th birth anniversary?

Did Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pay homage to her beloved father and Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu, on the 99thAnniversary of his death or on his 100th?

If this simple, but important date in Bangladesh history is not addressed and clearly defined by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in parliament (or wherever), it opens to question the entire history of Bangladesh for scrutiny – what to, and what not to. accept and believe.

If last Sunday was Bangabandhu’s 100thbirth anniversary, it’s of tremendous disappointment to me. I would have expected more – a lot more – festivities and celebration, as the Founder of the Nation so richly deserves.

In 2016, I suggested the 100th birth anniversary should be an awe-inspiring occasion (and year) for the people of Bangladesh and the entire world to embrace. There was no evidence of anything on a grand scale of international interest last Sunday and there are no whispers in the corridors of power that anything special is in the planning for 2020.

I do hope the Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation, the Rt. Hon. Mahbub Ali, MP, proves me completely wrong and, unbeknown to me, the ‘business as usual’ sign is being removed and his department has harnessed at least some of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to increase the flow of tourism to Bangladesh as inherited from Bangabandhu.  

Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, a royal goodwill ambassador, a humanitarian and a respected foreign non-political friend of Bangladesh. He is an ardent Bangabandhu admirer and has been honoured by Bangladesh Freedom Fighters. Three Bangladeshi babies have been named ‘Frank Peters’ in his honour.

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