December 15, 2011

BANGLADESH: Nation Mourns Death of Guardian of Cultural Activists and Litterateurs

DHAKA, Bangladesh / New Age / TimeOut / December 13, 2011

'National Professor' Kabir Chowdhury Dies, Aged 88

Professor Kabir Chowdhury at the birth anniversary celebration 
of Shaheed Munier Chowdhury on November 27, 2011. 
at Shilpakala Academy. It was his last public appearance.

It was like the death of a guardian for the cultural activists and litterateurs in the country. They are deeply shocked at the death of the national professor Kabir Chowdhury, an educationist, translator, playwright and more.

Professor Kabir Chowdhury died at the age of 88 at his residence at Shantinagar, Dhaka on Tuesday. He was suffering from heart disease.

Professor Kabir Chowdhury appeared as the guardian of the cultural activists just after the independence of the country in 1971. He was the founder president of the troupe Theatre and patron of other cultural organisations. Till his death he was the inspiration for the cultural activists in the country.

‘He was the nucleus of the cultural activities in the post war Bangladesh,’ commented Nasiruddin Yousuff, president of Shammilito Sanskritik Jote.

Labeling his death an indispensable loss Yousuff added, ‘His absence can never be filled up.’

Deeply shocked poet-playwright Syed Shamsul Haque said, ‘Professor Kabir Chowdhury was the guiding light and the voice of the people of this country. We must follow the trail of the great man and continue the intellectual endeavor he started.’

Professor Chowdhury wrote over 250 books, most of which are translations of the foreign classics. Once in an interview Kabir Chowdhury said that he translated world classics in Bangla to introduce the golden treasures of the world to the Bengali readers, who scarcely read English texts.

One of his many translations Godor Protikkhyay form Samuel Becket’s Waiting for Godot became a very popular theatre production. Director of the play Ataur Rahman told New Age, ‘He requested all of us to stage his translation. And I took the challenge of staging the theatre of absurd. The play became very popular in Bangladesh and India. Even the students of Theatre School still stage the play directed by me.’

Terming professor Chowdhury a noble soul, Ataur Rahman said, ‘I still remember his guidance when we attended the International Theatre Institute conference in Munich, Germany under his leadership after Bangladesh became a member of ITI in 1982. He was the founder president of ITI Bangladesh Centre.’

Professor Kabir Chowdhury was the current chairman of Bangla Academy. Remembering professor Chowdhury, director general of Bangla Academy Samsuzzaman Khan, told New Age, ‘He has struggled till his last breathe for building Bangladesh a country of secularism. Kabir Chowdhury has a permanent place in our society as a man with wisdom and a progressive intellectual.’

Professor Kabir Chowdhury is always a source of inspiration for his students. Playwright-actor Khairul Alam Sabuj said, ‘He was a very good teacher and a very nice man.’

Not only to the students of Dhaka University, professor Chowdhury taught world literature to theatre students being the lifelong principal of country’s oldest school on theatre named Theatre School. A student of the school, actor-director Apon Ahsan said, ‘We were just amazed seeing his depth of knowledge at the class room.’

Born on February 9, 1923, Kabir Chowdhury began his illustrious career as a teacher at Pabna Edward College. He joined the English Department of Dhaka University in 1974.For his contribution to education, literature and social movements, Kabir Chowdhury was honoured nationally and internationally with prestigious awards such as Shadhinota Padak, Ekushey Padak, Bangabandhu National Award, Bangla Academy Literary Award, William Carey Award (India) and others. In 1998 he was made National Professor of Bangladesh.

Copyright © New Age 2009-2011
Credit: Reports and photographs are property of owners of intellectual rights. 
Seniors World Chronicle, a not-for-profit, serves to chronicle and widen their reach.