‘Freedom of thought is the lifeblood of a progressive society’
By Anil Datta .
Karachi: Intellect and freedom of thought are the lifeblood of a society and are imperative to progress.
This was the consensus of the speakers who had gathered to pay tributes to the late Mansoor Saeed, a star in the intellectual firmament who crusaded for freedom of expression and liberated thinking as well as for egalitarianism and a society free of class exploitation.
The occasion at the Arts Council Monday evening was meant to mark the launch of his translation of “The life of Galileo”, by German playwright Bertholt Brecht, into Urdu.
Speakers paid him glowing tributes for his technique of translation whereby he communicated not with the literati but with the man on the street and thus drove home in the most profound of manner certain truths and revolutionary ideas.
In his tribute, noted intellectual and social activist Rahat Saeed said that Mansoor Saeed’s translations were highly creative because he “owned the script” and really juxtaposed his feelings, his emotions, and the conditions of his day on the script which made it not just a verbatim translation but gave it poignancy and profundity without in the least altering the spirit of the message.
In this regard, Saeed especially mentioned the translations of Carl SaganÂ’s epic work, Cosmos, a work that gives us glowing insight into the origins of the universe, into Urdu.
Rahat Saeed recalled how during the decade of the 1980s, a period marked by the most pernicious stifling of creative and intellectual thinking, he and Mansoor Saeed had decided to venture into the world of theatre to bring home to the masses the evils of dictatorship. He said that since it was the era of the most punitive form of suppression, they decided to use metaphorical language.
Murtaza Solangi, another social activist of the 80s and 90s and now with Radio Pakistan, Islamabad, lauded the effective power of Mansoor Saeed’s translations and his intellectual prowess.
He said that it was the downtrodden masses who were the beneficiaries of his works as he took it upon himself to communicate with the commonfolk. He lamented the fact that today language had become weapon of class discrimination and exploitation and the so-called, self-styled elite of our society had adapted the language into its own peculiar forms or had taken up a foreign language just to assert their superiority over their less fortunate compatriots
The book launch ceremony was unusual and highly innovative, making a departure from the routine of such functions in that apart from the eulogies by speakers, there were video beepers of messages displayed on big screens from close associates of the late intellectual. The beepers were from Kamran Ali and Muzzafar Qazilbash who had a long association with Saeed in the field of theatre and intellectual pursuits and are now resident in the US, and noted intellectual and prominent theatre figure of yesteryear Aslam Azhar. Azhar mentioned his close association with Saeed dating back to i982 in the field of theatre and leftism. So did Kamran Ali and Qazilbash
This was followed by a play in three acts depicting the book, “The life of Galileo”. Ehtashamuddin as Galileo did a profound role bringing home the earnest desire and passion of the Italian scientist for knowledge and his unquenched thirst for a quest into the secrets of the universe, for which he was dubbed a heretic and incurred the wrath of the church and state.
The three-act play was followed a vocal rendition of the verse of Baba Bulleh Shah, Shaikh Ayaz, and Khwaja Ghulam Farid in Areeb Azhar’s rich, floating baritone, to the accompaniment of strumming on the guitar. The songs extolled the virtues purity of heart, and thinking of oneself as a denizen of the world rather than as a citizen of a country, implying thereby universal brotherhood and the oneness of all mankind.
Sania Saeed did a commendable job as a narrator. The function coincided with the 68th birthday of the late Mansoor Saeed.
Source: The News