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Goodwill on Two Wheels: A book review


Ansar Ahmed Ullah:


Soon after the independence of Bangladesh, four freedom fighters, Jamal Hasan, Anwar Ahmed, Mahmud Abdul Quayum and Syed Akhtar Ali, set out on a world cycle tour on a special mission. They wanted to thank the people of the world who supported Bangladesh’s Liberation War. They started their tour from the front garden of 32 Dhanmondi. They carried with them a personalised message of good wishes and greetings from the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to the people of the world they were going to visit.

One of the four, Jamal Hasan, recently launched a book to recall the trip. His book titled ‘Goodwill on Two Wheels,’ publication event was held at the Over 50 Club, Southgate, in North London. Dr Naz Rashid acted as the moderator for the event. Ian Martin, ex-Secretary General of Amnesty International and currently working as a representative of the United Nations, wrote the foreword. He gave an introductory talk at the book launch event. Also, Mr Asaduzzaman Malik, an established author, spoke about the author’s previous book and expressed his high expectation about enjoying ‘Goodwill on Two Wheels’. Finally, before questions and answers, Catherine Lepper and Mahmud Quayum read a few excerpts from the book.

The tour differed from any other cycle tour because, besides Dhaka University, Bangladesh Sports Federation and the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry were among the sponsors of this goodwill mission. Jamal Hasan and his teammates had a unique touring experience like no other. Because they carried a good wish message from Bangabandhu and the tour was sponsored by the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry, they had the privilege of meeting people from all walks of life in all the countries they had visited. They were both tourists, seeing the wider world for the first time, and ambassadors of goodwill for Bangladesh, reaching out to people in person and through press conferences, radio and TV programmes to convey the message from Bangabandhu. They thanked everyone for supporting their liberation war.

During their tour, they had the privilege of meeting some heads of state, including the Prime Minister of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi and many dignitaries, including Mr Eric Jansen, Chief of Cabinet of the Office of the Director General of the United Nations, Geneva. They received the most cordial reception from everybody. The cyclists were overwhelmed by people’s expressions of happiness that Bangladesh had earned their liberation. Everybody wanted to know more about Bangladesh and wished well for the future of Bangladesh.

Goodwill on Two Wheels is a memoir based on the 1971 Liberation struggles of Bangladesh and the celebration of hard-earned independence. Jamal Hasan, like all young Bengalis, is desperate to play his part in the fight for the freedom of Bangladesh. So, he makes a perilous journey across the border into India, hoping to find a place in one of the training camps for freedom fighters. But the training camps are full of volunteers, and he must wait his turn.

Jamal has an idea. He finds three friends and persuades them to go on a world cycle tour to drum up support for the Bangladesh Liberation War and strengthen the world’s opinion of the liberation war. They talk to exiled Bengali politicians and soon have plans for their world cycle tour. A prominent Indian company donates them four sturdy bicycles. They obtain Indian travel documents and make the necessary preparations. When they are about to start, fortunately, the Pakistan military capitulates to the Bengali freedom fighters, and Bangladesh becomes an independent country.

After the independence of Bangladesh, Jamal and his three teammates adjusted their plan. Now they decided to go on a goodwill mission instead, for the fledgling state to thank the people of the world for supporting the Bangladesh Liberation War. Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka University, and Bangladesh Sports Federation sponsor their world tour. The date is 7 April 1972, and the starting point of their long odyssey is the front garden of the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Leaving Bangladesh, their first stop is Kolkata. The Bangladesh Deputy High Commission Office, Kolkata, arranges a press conference to introduce them to the Indian media. Then Jamal and his teammates meet the Chief Minister of West Bengal, who assures them that he would request the Central Government to help them with their tour. They also meet the Secretary Department of Public Works of West Bengal, who arrange for them to stay free of charge in the government bungalows on their way to Delhi. From Kolkata, they cycled to New Delhi and then to Mumbai. On the way, they meet the Chief Minister and Governor of Uttar Pradesh and the Prime Minister of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi.

Because they could not pass through Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries, they had to take an ocean-going liner from Cochin to Greece to begin the European leg of their journey. After seven months on the road, they finally arrive in London.

The Goodwill on the Wheels contains 26 chapters, each for a particular country, a city or a place of interest. The author skillfully takes the readers with him and shares his many excellent insights on life, faiths, traditions and cultures as he travels from country to country and place to place. The description of how he felt watching the endless water during a month-long ocean voyage is incredible. In Paris, they are lucky to have a renowned artist who introduced the wonder of Paris to them. The author was particularly excited to have the famous artist volunteering to be their guide at the Louvre Museum.


During their tour in India and Europe, they meet people from all walks of life. In addition, they reach out to politicians and dignitaries in all the countries they visit and engage with people through press conferences and TV programmes to convey the greetings of Bangabandhu and the good wishes of the people of Bangladesh.

The author gives historical references to places they visit, describing each country’s past glory and attractions. Although Goodwill on Two Wheels is a travel story well documented with rare written materials and photographs, it reads like fiction – the historical references’ narrations are never dull. Instead, these are found rather interesting and exciting.

At the onset, most readers might have asked themselves, ‘why it took half a century to write this book?’ However, after finishing the book, they will refrain from pursuing their curiosity about the delay in the publication of the book. Instead, they will feel happy that they got hold of a copy of this book.

Goodwill on Two Wheels, written by Jamal Hasan, was published on Amazon in 2023

The cover design is by Imon Hasan.