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Re-Balance
10 June 2021

How the War of Independence Forged a Culture of Resistance among British Bangladeshis

Dr Halima Begum was born in rural Sylhet and raised in London’s East End. A former British diplomat, Halima is Chief Executive of the Runnymede Trust, the UK’s race equality think tank. She sits on the board and acts as an advisor to various organisations including the British Academy, Office for National Statistics, Trades Union Council, and the NHS Race and Health Observatory.
Re-Balance
10 June 2021

Remembering 1971: Bangladesh’s year of tragedy and triumph

So, my motherland – Bangladesh – turns 50 this week. The 1971 Liberation War, in which Bangladesh eventually won its independence after a brutal armed struggle, is a poignant and significant moment for both the narrative of Bangladesh and Bangladeshis across the globe. For a number of years now, I have been exploring, researching and documenting the experiences of British-Bangladeshi communities…
Re-Balance
10 June 2021

Growing Up In Newport

Growing up in Newport, a small town in Wales, my experience of Bangladesh was through the narration of my Parents. For my Parents, being Bangladeshi in some sense meant feeling connected to the natural land. Their rose-tinted lense painted a picture of vivid green paddy fields, mango orchards and hot summers. My Brothers and I were desperate to visit this utopia and enjoy the experience for…
Re-Balance
09 June 2021

Empowerment for Change

My Father arrived from Sylhet, in Northern Bangladesh, to London in 1963 [at the age of 27]. As a student, he worked, like many of his peers, at a series of Indian restaurants upon his arrival. My Mother joined him shortly after, in 1968 [at the age of 18] as his new bride. For my parents, London was a new world that presented new beginnings in the 1960s – and they had aspirations to build a…
Re-Balance
09 June 2021

Fifty years ago

By day the streets of Dhaka were quiet. Some shops and offices were open, some were shut. The buses were half empty and not many taxis were operating. Now and then an army jeep would come roaring up the road, making pedestrians and rickshaws dart swiftly out of its way. Although the bustle and gaiety of normal civilian life were missing, law and order prevailed. But at night a hidden giant rose…
Re-Balance
09 June 2021

In fifty years from now, what do I see?

I have a vision, not a dream.
Re-Balance
09 June 2021

When I Speak Bengali - Mohsina Alam

If you ask my father what the best day of his life was, he won’t tell you it was his wedding day, or the birth of me or my sister. He will tell you it was a day in April 1986, when he received his British passport. As he has told me so many times before, the passport symbolised freedom, opportunity, and the chance to start a new life. It was in this movement, one family’s migration from…
Re-Balance
03 June 2021

The '71 Connection

To be a British Bengali. What does that mean to me? How has the last half century made me the person I am today? We as proud Bengalis stand proud, wherever in the world we may be! What defines us from our vast heritage, existence, the struggles, challenges and victories we have experienced?
Re-Balance
02 June 2021

The Myth of Return

I was born in 1963 in a Rajshahi hospital where there had been a malaria outbreak which killed the other babies in the maternity ward. I was the lucky one.
Re-Balance
01 June 2021

School Lunches

My earliest recollection as a child was of primary school and school lunches. School dinners, what a revelation; my typical home meals consisting of rice and spicy curries were now replaced by sticky heaps of spaghetti hoops and fried chips. Then there were afters: desserts like sponge and custard and treacle pudding. I remember the summer school fete and sports day, were my favourite days in the…

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