Back in the country, whose birth she documented, after half a century – Anne de Henning effortlessly recalls those tumultuous times. The veteran photographer met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the other surviving family members of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Dhaka’s Dhanmondi 32 Memorial Museum on December 19, 2022 – an event she described as “an emotional family reunion”. Henning photographed Bangabandhu giving a speech at the first Council Meeting of Awami League in independent Bangladesh, in 1972. After Bangabandhu and most of his family members were brutally assassinated in 1975, his images were routinely destroyed. Henning’s colour photos of the Father of the Nation are among the few known to still exist.
During the Liberation War in 1971, when Pakistan army was not allowing foreign photographers to come here, what compelled her to undertake a perilous journey to Bangladesh?
“I was in Kathmandu at the time, and I saw a dispatch in the local English paper… that trouble had erupted in (then) East Pakistan and that Pakistani authorities had closed the country to the foreign press. And I thought, well, I’m going to go there. As journalists and photographers, when you are told you can’t go somewhere, you know something is going on. So that’s where you want to go,” Henning said.