Thursday, August 09, 2007
Usman Awang's Merdeka
"Kita sekarang - dalam cita-cita menuju Malaya merdeka - haruslah membuang semangat perkauman yang berlebih-lebihan. Kerana ini adalah menjadi satu batu penarung terhadap cita-cita Malaya merdeka.
Bagi diri saya tidak ada apa-apa yang dapat diberikan untuk perjuangan Malaya menuju kemerdekaan.
Tetapi jika rasa sanggup membuang semangat perkauman yang berlebih-lebihan bagi diri tiap-tiap orang dan tiap-tiap kaum itu dikatakan satu derma bakti kepada perjuangan ini, maka saya dapat kosongkan dada membuangkan perasaan itu untuk memenuhi isi kemerdekaan kita.
Sesungguhnya saya tidak mengetahui dengan betul apakah kita (orang-orang) yang memperjuangkan kemerdekaan itu akan sanggup pula - kelak - mempertahankan kedaulatan kemerdekaan itu?"
-- excerpt from Usman Awang's "Untuk Malaya Merdeka" - 1952.
I was with Ahirudin Attan. together with about 80 people, at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre yesterday to attend "A Memorable Read of Usman Awang's Untuk Malaya Merdeka".
Among the guests were Usman Awang's family, his close friends and students of UiTM and a secondary school in USJ, Subang Jaya.
Reading "Untuk Malaya Merdeka" were five young people including two of the late Usman Awang's granddaughters -- Katriana Abdul Rahim and Nur Alisa Mohd Yamin.
That was great to have young Malaysians reading the work of Usman Awang, inarguable the country's finest poet.
How fitting that it was about our struggle for independence.
And how relevant those words still are today, more than 50 years later.
The late Usman Awang or better known by his nomme de guerre, Tongkat Warrant, was one of the country's foremost literary figures who was known to be a humanist, a passionate lover of peace and humanity.
Decades ago, even before Merdeka, Usman was promoting his belief in a "bangsa Malaya".
His passion for what he believed in resonates in his works of literature.
Dr MK Rajakumar, a life-long friend was there to say a few words for his dear friend.
He said Usman Awang was deserving of the nobel prize. He was Malaysia's greatest poet whose works must not be forgotten.
"Young people must reclaim our rich heritage...don't leave it to the politicians to do that.
We must not forget these great people...it is up to you to reawaken the spirit of the greatest poet we ever had," he said, in tribute of Usman who died on Nov 29, 2001.
His daughter and eldest child, Haslina, through their family company UA Enterprises Sdn Bhd, is printing some of his unpublished works and also reprinting his poems, short stories and novels.
At the function, a reprinted hard-cover "Tulang2 Berserakan" was on sale.
The event was sponsored by The Miss Malaysia-India Care Association.