Today’s guest blog comes from Councillor Sultan Khan (Labour – Eastville), who organised the 67th International Mother Tongue Day in Bristol on 21 February.
International Mother Language Day commemorates the anniversary of Bengali/Bangla being restored as the official language of Bangladesh, after years of protests over Urdu being imposed by the then-Government in Islamabad. Later, in 1971, Bangladesh became independent from Pakistan.
After Bengali was reintroduced, the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) stepped up efforts to recognise the world’s cultural diversity. Then, in 2008, the UN General Assembly recognised Bangladesh’s Mother Language Day as an international day of commemoration to celebrate the languages of all peoples.
This of course includes all of the nearly 100 languages used by our communities all across Bristol, including sign language. This diversity so enrichens Bristol’s social fabric, and is one of our city’s greatest strengths.
Learning languages is important for people of all ages, improving our skills in an increasingly international economy but also to preserve and protect languages as a vital part of maintaining our history and culture.
It was therefore a pleasure to be joined by so many Bristolians, including city councillors, the Deputy Lord Mayor, the High Sheriff, the Deputy Lord-Lieutenant, and lecturers in linguistics for this year’s commemoration. I am proud to have helped raise the flag of Bangladesh outside of City Hall this lunchtime, and to have been joined by colleagues from the Bangladesh Association – Bristol, Bath, and West at a reception around the corner.
Modor gorob moder aasha. A’mori bangla bhasha!