Today is the 78th birthday of the country's eminent painter and cartoonist Rafiqunnabi,better known as Ranabi.
He is best known for creating Tokai, a character symbolising the capital's poor street boys living on picking things from dustbins, having a knack of telling simple yet painful truths about current political and socio-economic situation of the country.
He was born on this day in Chapainawabganj in 1943. His father Rashidunnabi was a police official and his mother Anwara Begum was a daughter of a royal family.
He started drawing in his childhood. In the early 1950s, his father took him to a painting exhibition, held at the then Bardhaman House (now Bangla Academy).
Rafiqunnabi passed his childhood staying in different districts across the country due to his father's profession. He completed his secondary school education at Pogose Secondary School in Dhaka.
He completed his bachelor's and master's from the East Pakistan College of Arts and Crafts (now Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka). He studied under the supervision of painters like ZainulAbedin and Quamrul Hassan.
During his college life, he gained reputation by drawing covers of different books. He got a scholarship from Asia Foundation in 1962 and completed his bachelor.
He joined the liberation war in 1971. During this time, he collected funds, clothes, and foods for freedom fighters.
During 1973–1976, he studied printmaking in Athens School of Fine Arts under the Greek Government's postgraduate scholarship.
He returned to the country in 1986. He joined as a teacher at Dhaka University and gradually became an associate professor of the university. He was the head of the Drawing and Painting Department from 1988 to 1991.
Later he started working as a freelance artist. The first strip cartoon, titled Tokai, was published in Weekly Bichitra and Dainik Bangla on May 17, 1978. In this cartoon, Tokai is a senior official sitting in his office on chair with a table made of street bricks.
He gained immense popularity in the first cartoon and started drawing regularly printed in various forms.
Nabi served as a faculty member of Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka during 1964–2010.
He was awarded EkusheyPadak in 1993 by the government of Bangladesh.
RafiqunNabi was awarded the EkusheyPadak in 1993 for his contribution to the arts. He has also won the National Honorary Shilpakala Academy Award in Fine Arts, Agrani Bank SahityaPuraskar, and 13 National Academy Awards for book-cover design.
In 2006, he was nominated for Outstanding Artist of the World among 300 painters from 60 countries for his paintings entitled Drought. He was awarded the Sheltech Medal for 2015 by Sheltech.