‘To assert your right as a people is no crime’

‘To assert your right as a people is no crime’

(TOP) Rev. Dr. Wati Aier, Convener of FNR, speaks as FNR members stand in solidarity at the first Naga Day. (Bottom) People attend the first Naga Day celebrated at Khuochiezie (Kohima Local Ground) on January 10. (Photo by Soreishim Mahong)


Morung Express News
Kohima | January 10


The Naga Day celebration at the Khouchiezie (Local Ground), Kohima on Wednesday saw a myriad of speeches and poems all of which made an attempt to assert the rights of the Naga people to decide their own destiny.


For Rev. Dr. Chingmak Chang, to assert one’s right as a people is no crime. “It is infact, a democratic value,” Dr. Chang said while speaking during the Naga Day celebration.


Equating it to India’s ‘Satyagraha’ movement under Mahatma Gandhi, he urged that the Indian nation not to forget or ignore the shared history of the journey to self determination from the British rule.


Closer home, Dr. Chang sought to address issues of majoritarianism politics and said, “So long as we equate our security to our tribal affiliations, then we will see no progress or change.”


Towards this, he urged that the major tribes refrain from dominating smaller communities. “Celebrate differences and respect even the least,” he added.


Dr. Chang further expressed his dream of a Naga nation “where there is no hidden pan tribal agenda” and where women are included and can voice out in village citizen’s forum.


“For in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female,” he said quoting from Galatians 3:28.


Need each other
For Rev. Dr. Zelhou Keyho, the Nagas coming together to celebrate their oneness was an “achievement”.


Acknowledging that there has been “deep hurt” amongst Naga brethrens, the NBCC General Secretary called for “true brotherhood” to emerge from across borders.


“The divide in our minds is bigger and stronger than the arbitrary boundary,” he stated and added that Nagas must uproot the notion that one is better than the other and “mentally implant Nagas without border”.


Dr. Keyho also urged joining “broken lines” and extending a helping hand towards each other “as we seek to find healing”.


“We need each other to build a better future for the generations to come so that one day our children will not blame us for not doing enough,” Dr. Keyho maintained and prayed for a new dawn of “Nagas without borders”.


‘Commit to the collective’
L. Adani, former President of the United Naga Council (UNC), called on the gathering to commit to the higher and bigger possibility of the collective “so that we are not swayed to confusion and disillusionment”.
Adani prayed that Wednesday’s convergence would dissolve the “borders within us” and “consolidate and cement the organic bonding of the Naga people.”


‘Renew and rebuild relationships’
Dr. P. Ngully of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation pointed to the fragmentations caused by “narrow domestic walls” and rued that “we are caught up in incessant conflicts fueled by fear, greed and desire for power.” Towards this, Dr. Ngully called for renewing and rebuilding relationships where one can disagree strongly and yet remain friends.
Earlier, a speech from Dr. Temsula Ao appealing to shed individual tribe affiliations was read out by Prof. Lentila Alinger. “Let the gore and gory of the past be buried. Then and only then we will be able to survive,” she urged.
Poems including “Naga Day” by Easterine Kire, “In the beginning” by Tungshang Ningreichon, and “Bordered differences: Envisaging a Naga path” by Asangba Tzudir was read out by Theyiesinuo Keditsu.


‘Time for us Nagas to bring about changes’

The memorandum to the Simon Commission on January 10, 1929 by the Naga Club is the “Magna Carta” of Naga national politics.
This was stated by Krurovi Peseyie, Chairman of the Naga Club, during the Naga Day celebrations at the Khouchiezie (Local Ground), Kohima on January 10.
Peseyie acknowledged the pioneers of the Naga Club and Ruzhukhrie Angami for drafting the memorandum of 1929 and asserted that the submission of the memorandum is a “historical landmark” which is not to be undermined.
“By their representation, the Naga Club unified the Nagas,” he insisted and further added that the club will strive to keep their legacy alive. Peseyie also took the occasion to push for much needed change in Naga society.
“Today is the time for us Nagas to bring about changes,” he said. “Change from factionalism to unity, from fratricide to brotherhood, from greed to benevolence. Today is the time for the Nagas to erase hatred with the ink of goodwill,” he urged. This, he maintained, would help translate “Nagas without borders” into reality.


‘Young Nagas aspire permanent peace’

“The aspiration of young Naga people is to have permanent peace and not a permanent peace process,” asserted Athikho Liriite, one of the young voices at the celebration.
For Shwisho Lorin, a young student of Tetso College, her vision for the Naga people is to get beyond the barrier of tribal politics, where one puts aside personal differences and individual agendas and work for the common betterment of all.
Athong Makury of the Myanmar-based Council for Naga Affairs (CNA) looks forward to genuine reconciliation. This reconciliation is designed by the Creator, according to Makury, and will only happen when we realize the original pledge that the pioneers made where God was the foundation.
For Kim Chishi, another of the young voices, imagining Nagas without borders is difficult. However, she imagines a future where Nagas can live together without any territorial demarcations – political or geographical.