Nicaragua, ultimately

It was Pete Seeger who, on learning from me that I wished to visit Nicaragua to write a book in Bengali on the Revolution, recommended me to Father Ernesto Cardenal, the priest, poet and guerilla, who was then the Minister of Culture of the Government of Reconstruction in Nicaragua. One day I got a letter of invitation from Father Ernesto Cardenal. I quit my VOA job and went to Managua as the minister of culture’s guest. My visit to Nicaragua Libre (Liberated) opened up a totally new world to me. That happened in 1985 and I am still reeling under its impact. It changed me considerably. It taught me things that I never thought of before. It made a different man out of me. I also got exposed to the New Song movement of Latin America. The New Song was a genre of songs that came from everyday experiences, from events that happen in one’s life and in the life that surrounds the individual. The New Song became important after revolutionary and radical movements started to take shape in Central and South America. But one should be cautious about forming any fixed notion as to the nature of the New Song. A love song could also be a New Song. It depended on the context. The New Song writer was not bound by any oath to deliver hard core political or partisan songs per se. The point was not to be politically or ideologically correct. To be musically creative and thematically relevant was the important thing.

Shubho nabo barsho! Today is the Bengali new year’s day.


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