Bangladesh 50: Stories of 71 summer celebration event
On Sunday 4th July Toynbee Hall hosted a series of events honouring and celebrating Bangladeshi heritage and the 1971 liberation.
On Sunday 4th July Toynbee Hall hosted a series of in-person events that explored, honoured and celebrated the significant heritage of 1971, sharing stories connecting to the East End, Bangladesh and the legacy it leaves within the younger generations.
Working in collaboration with Swadhinata Trust and Tower Hamlets Archives, Toynbee Hall is running Stories of 71, an ongoing project that centres on the stories and experiences of local people.
In the morning we embarked on a performative music and story walking tour, led by local storyteller Shamim Azad and musicians Amith Dey and Paul Burgess. Journeying together, we wisi t5 locations that hold significance to the Bengali communities, Shamim chronicling the heritage through stories the document the impact of the War.
We returned to Toynbee Hall, itself a site a of community mobilisation and a rallying point for Bengali British activists who were fundraising, mobilising and raising awareness of the liberation movement on the South Asian continent.
In the afternoon, we opened our doors for a celebration event, community storytelling, music and food. As part of the afternoon, 9 storytellers who participated in our Stories of 71 Competition back in April performed their story. We passed the mic to the audience where freedom fighters, witnesses and diaspora shared their experiences and feelings about what had happened.
Following on from this, we will be publishing a digital anthology of the 22 stories that were shared, and embarking on a volunteer led oral histories project to capture more stories – if you are interested in being involved, please do let us know.
“It was amazing – Amazing! Event. Thank you for reconnecting us. I had a great time!”
“Thank you for producing and presenting a wonderful afternoon at Toynbee Hall last Sunday. It was so lovely to have a platform with an audience who I didn’t have to justify my feelings for.”
Stories of 71 Story Competition Winners
Back in March, we ran a short story competition inviting local people to submit stories that linked to themes of ‘resistance’, ‘liberation,’ ‘life in 1971’ and ‘home.’ We are delighted to have received 22 submissions coming from a variety of backgrounds, including elder community members, local youth and professional esteemed writers. Its’ really powerful to have so many voices be part of this project and are thankful to those who took the time to write or speak, and share their story.
Each and every piece was a privilege and pleasure to read/listen to so again, All the stories will be included in a digital anthology published on our website later in the year.
We had a diverse range stories submitted in several different genres, languages and different formats with some submitted in audio and others written.
We are delighted to announce that the winning submissions of the Storiesof71 Competition are:
The Compass by Josephine Guppy
The Scent of Home by Farah Naz
A Powerful Promise by Maisha Delwar
9 people who submitted a story, went on to take part in a storytelling workshop with Shamim Azad and go on to present their story on the stage in our afternoon event on the 4th July.