ANSAM Secretariat Complex seen here in New Eden Katomei Village, Tahamzam (Senapati) on March 13, 2018, after its inaugural ceremony. (Morung Photo)
To be a space for ‘collective learning and sharing’
Morung Express News
Tahamzam (Senapati) | March 13
It rained heavily through 2017 that slowed down construction and it rained heavily through the morning of March 13 when the All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM) was to inaugurate its Secretariat Complex in Tahamzam (Senapati). But neither rain nor fire has been known to hinder the ANSAM’s spirit that has fought for justice in the Naga hills of Manipur since 1970. It has prayed its way through rain and fought its way through fire.
12 years since ANSAM predecessors conceived it in the hills of Tahamzam, the ANSAM inaugurated its Secretariat Complex on March 13 as the rain gave way to sunshine amidst the goodwill of senior activists, friends, patrons, tribe and village elders.
Set on 16,240 square feet of land in New Eden Katomei Village (Tahamzam), the Secretariat Complex is built around the “philosophy of a Naga Morung” that will become a “space for collective sharing and learning,” noted Seth Shatsang, President of the ANSAM, under whose leadership this project was completed.
The Complex will be a centre for information gathering and dissemination, contributing to the collective knowledge and wisdom of the people. It will serve as a hub for research, documentation, campaigns and advocacy for issues that affect the people of the region. Here, hoped Shatsang, “young minds will come to listen to the Naga story; to empower our future.”
“It is historic for us to have this kind of infrastructure,” acknowledged L Dikho, Government of Manipur’s Minister for PHED, Printing & Stationery, and one of the project’s chief patrons. While he unveiled the Secretariat Complex monolith, the Complex itself was inaugurated by Patrick Kolakhe, the first general secretary of ANSAM (erstwhile Naga Students’ Union, Imphal). The Shelley Chara Memorial Hall was inaugurated by Helen Chara, wife of late ANSAM president Shelley Chara, and the ANSAM Resource Centre was inaugurated by Christopher Kesosul Ltu, President of the Naga Students’ Federation.
In 2006, land for the Secretariat Complex was acquired by ANSAM predecessors but given Manipur’s political situation that needed the attention of ANSAM leadership, the construction of the structure was delayed. On the brink of the end of his second tenure as President, Shatsang hoped to complete construction (that began in 2015) of the Complex by August 2017 but incessant rains meant building material could not be transported. The ANSAM Assembly extended his tenure till March 2018 with faith in his vision and energy to complete the project. Shatsang and his team delivered. On the night of March 12, workers put the finishing touches of paint and tiles as preparations for the inaugural ceremony on March 13 was underway.
“Through an active secretariat, we seek to build and strengthen the ideals of democracy, amplify peoples’ voices and stories, promote peace and justice, revive traditional wisdom and practices on land natural resource management,” hoped the ANSAM team that had the solidarity of other youth bodies from Manipur State like the Democratic Students’ Alliance of Manipur (DESAM), Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO) and Apunba Ireipakki Maheiroi Sinpanglup (AIMS).
In further solidarity, Guru Rewben Mashangva and Chonchon Varah sang ‘Without Fear & Without Reproach’ (based on ANSAM’s theme) during the inaugural ceremony while DESAM presented a Meitei song translating to ‘Today’s Youth are Tomorrow’s Pillars.’ Somipam Lungleng, former president of ANSAM, remembered nine martyrs of ANSAM who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Rev. L Simon Raomei, Pastor of the Manipur Baptist Convention Centre Church, gave the dedication prayer with Rev. Fr. Shesou, Principal of DB Hr. Sec. School, Senapati, giving the inaugural prayer and Thotreivao Zimik, Pastor of the New Eden Baptist Church, giving the benediction alongside praying for the inaugural feast.
The 14 constituent units of ANSAM and its two subordinate bodies pledged to value the Secretariat as a “symbol of our unity and strength,” to “uphold the ideals and visions of ANSAM” as well as to “safeguard ANSAM as the conscience and voice of the people.”