LAHORE: Baba Najmi, on Thursday, received lifetime membership of the prestigious Lahore Press Club (LPC), becoming probably the first Punjabi poet to get the honour.
Najmi, 70, a literary icon in Pakistan’s biggest province, has five compilations of Punjabi poetry under his belt namely Sochan Wich Jahaan, Mera Naam Insan, Aakhran Wich Samunder, Sarka Rama and Sanjay Punjab da Lok Gawi. One of his poems – Chlaan Pankhi Tay Chali Thandi Hawa – was immortalised by legendary Abida Parveen.
“I am very thankful to the journalist community for this honour,” the poet said after the club announced his membership.
The poet’s revolutionary work is not only acknowledged in Pakistan but also highly recognised across the border. Last December, a literary society in India erected his statue at the Mahadaish Bhagat Singh Park in Moga.
Besides Lifetime Achievements Award from the Masud Khaddarposh Trust and Punjab Institute of Languages and Culture (PILAC), Baba Najmi has also received Bulleh Shah Award in 2008 from India.
Highlighting the revolutionary element in Baba Najmi’s poetry, Punjabi Parchar President Ahmad Raza said that he met the poet some 17 years ago when he was reciting his powerful Punjabi verses. “No poet of our times has written so openly against injustices as Baba Najmi,” he said.
Punjabi is a language of more than 10.7 million people in Pakistan, said Raza, while lauding LPC President Shahbaz Mian and General Secretary Abdul Majeed Sajid for giving due honour to Baba Najmi.
Shahzad Ammar, a Microsoft engineer based in Denmark, was also very happy for Najmi, who he regards as his mentor, and extended his praise to the club administration and the member journalists. Ammar said it was Najmi whose words helped him know more of his mother tongue. “It is all due to Baba Najmi that I found courage to write in Punjabi,” he added and recalled Najmi as a ‘poet of labourers’.
“Baba Najmi is the voice of all Punjabis, anywhere in the world,” he said.