I am delighted that CoBBC have been able to launch the UK and Europe-wide contest for exponents of Shah Abdul Karim’s songs, and are now in the final countdown with 20 contestants. This is as much a celebration of Shah Abdul Karim as of the British Bangladeshi – and indeed – pan European Bangladeshi diaspora. Bengalis are proud of their cultural heritage, which is an essential part of the repertoire they carry along when they move overseas. The shaping of the British Bangladeshi diaspora, their strength as a community, their investment in their children’s education, their enterprise and capacity to shape opportunities within the British mainstream have taken them to where they are now. And justifiably, Bengalis in Great Britain can take pride in their talent and the excellence in the Performing arts. Here, I wish to make an observation that others may find convincing. Bengalis around the globe share common cultural attributes, no doubt. Within that common cultural heritage, there is a constant shaping of traditions, newer nuances that are born of the everyday experience of the community they live in. The socio-genesis of post-1947 realities, for example, have added value and substance to the culture of the Bengali people living in what is today Bangladesh and India. For us in Bangladesh, socio-political exigencies around our journey to statehood, have given to our creative domain elements that Bengali culture within a larger political entity like India did not experience. But then, the latter would presumably also have benefited from the proximity to the multitude of the other Indian cultures. The culture of the Bengalis in Britain, as much as Bengali as it can be, would no doubt also offer elements that have a socio-genesis in British realities. I see in the launching of the CoBBC, trajectories that would in time give us a narrative of a Third Bengal culture that would celebrate both the enduring common elements of Bengali culture and its fascinating diversity within the communities of the Bengali people. This current talent hunt for Shah Abdul Karim exponents is no doubt, a major step towards building a foundation on which British Bangladeshi culture can be celebrated in all its excellence.
– Mohamed Mijarul Quayes