The Hero in History: Myth, Media and Realities
Akbar Ahmed’s provocative lecture for the Longman/ History Today Awards examines Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
Princess Diana's Panorama interview in November 1995 raises questions which relate to my topic: how are we to assess a heroic or large- than-life person in our age dominated by an intrusive and irreverent media? Which of the multiplicity of realities, shaped by differing mythologies deriving from different cultural and political contexts, is the real Diana: wronged wife or manipulative schemer, female icon for the 1990s or destroyer of the British monarchy? Are hero figures, then, a thing of the past, a relic from the times of Carlyle?
We will tackle the answers by examining Mr Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Jinnah may be called a hero if we define the term as a person who, endowed with extraordinary qualities of heart and mind, sets out to achieve a near-impossible goal (the creation of a nation- state for his community) and succeeds in the face of serious opposition (the British, Hindus and Sikhs).