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A damaged village surrounded by flooded fields, nearly three weeks after the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone hit the country. (Public Domain)
A damaged village surrounded by flooded fields, nearly three weeks after the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone hit the country. (Public Domain)

There are a number of reasons that make April 29th a very special day, bringing both sadness and joy.

INTERNATIONAL DANCE DAY

April 29 is International Dance Day, a day to ‘let your hair down’ and enjoy yourself. Country dances around the world are celebrated with both the old and the young having an enjoyable time. International Dance Day message author for 2015 is Canadian Luca ‘Lazylegz’ Patuelli and his message reads:

“No matter what age, race, sex or ability one may have, everyone can dance. Dance is within all of us.  Some choose to share it with others and some choose to keep it to themselves. Life is a dance whether we know it or not.

“We are constantly dancing with every movement we make, with every breath we take, and with every beat our hearts make, a rhythm is being created. It’s the slightest movements that make the greatest difference in a performance, just like in life it’s the little things that matter. Dance is the connection between you and the universe; while we are dancing we are developing ourselves based on the energy, the emotions, and the challenges we experience.

“It is up to us to determine how we want to communicate our dance to the world. Dance is the ultimate form of self-expression and it is the escape that always reminds us that everything is going to be ok. Dance challenges us to surpass our limitations by discovering strength within. So, live your life to the fullest and dance beautifully!”

Luca ‘Lazylegz’ Patuelli is the founder and creator of the ILL-Abilities™ Crew, an international b-boy crew comprised of the world’s best “Ill-abled” dancers and co-founder of Projet RAD, Canada’s first inclusive urban dance program offering programming out of accessible dance studios across Québec.

Patuelli was born with a birth defect that required him to use crutches from an early age. His signature style incorporates crutches and upper-body strength and has garnered him international recognition. Among his many achievements was headlining and co-directing the Paralympic Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver. Luca is also known for his appearance on So You Think You Can Dance Canada Season 3 as the only dancer with a disability on any of the SYTYCD franchises to make it into Finals Week.

1991 CYCLONE

In Bangladesh, we remember the devastating cyclone of April 29, 1991, Cyclone 2B, which devastated the coastline and off-shore islands of Chittagong, Chakoria, and Cox’s Bazar. Although the official death toll was 138,000, it is estimated that very many more perished on that fateful night. It took several weeks to recover the bodies of the victims. As many as 10 million people, by some accounts, were left homeless by Cyclone 2B. Additionally, a million head of cattle were lost. Because of this, and the heavy loss of crops, shortage of food supplies posed a critical danger to the survivors.

NO-GOLF DAY!

April 29 is also observed as ‘World No-Golf Day’ because on this day in 1993, the Global Anti-Golf Movement (GAGM) was launched at a meeting in Penang, Malaysia by some Asian environmental organisations. At that time, the cost of playing golf in places like Japan had sky-rocketed and golf tourism started, whereby Japanese businessmen would travel to countries like Thailand and Indonesia where new golf courses were being built.

Small farmers were being pushed off their agricultural land which was gradually transformed. Exotic soil and grass, chemical fertilizers, fungicides, and weedicides, as well as machinery were all imported to substitute for natural ecosystems. The environmental impacts included water depletion and toxic contamination of the soil, underground water, surface water, and the air. This in turn led to health problems for local communities, populations downstream, and even golfers, caddies, and chemical sprayers in golf courses.

ADOLF HITLER

April 29, 1945, was the day on which Adolf Hitler decided that he would soon be killed by the approaching Soviet Army. He had learnt that day how the Italian wartime leader Mussolini had been brutally killed and his dead body put on public display. Hitler was determined to avoid that sort of end. He and his long time companion, Eva Braun, married that night and a few hours later took their own lives.

Julian Francis was born on April 29, 1945, and believes that Hitler, in fact, committed suicide on hearing of his birth!

Julian Francis has had an association with Bangladesh since 1971, and the Government of Bangladesh awarded him with “The Friends of Liberation War Honour” in 2012 in recognition of his role in the country’s War of Liberation in 1971.

Julian Francishas worked for many years in Bangladesh with poverty alleviation programmes and disability related programmes. In recognition of his work in 1971 The Government of Bangladesh, in 2012, bestowed on him ‘The Friends of Liberation War Honour’.

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