FNR members look on as Dr. Visier Sanyü reads out the Naga Day Declaration at the first Naga Day celebrated at Khuochiezie (Kohima Local Ground) on January 10. (Morung Photo)
‘Nagas Without Borders’ convene at Kohima Local Ground on January 10, 2018
Morung Express News
Kohima | January 10
The Kohima Local Ground, or Khuochiezie as it is called locally, is historic to the grain. Naga people gathered here before taking part in the Plebiscite; it is here that the Naga people turned their back on Jawaharlal Nehru and U Nu. Nagaland Statehood was declared at the ground. On January 10, 2018, the Kohima Local Ground became witness to another historic event—the first ever Naga Day.
As journalist Oken Jeet Sandham marveled at this historicity, he noted how the theme on which the Naga Day is based, ‘Nagas without Borders,’ is significant—an “unbroken chain” among Nagas wherever they are, even as people shook hands with each other with a new wish, ‘Happy Naga Day!’
Amidst Naga gongs, drums and muzzle loading guns, the first Naga Day celebrations started with the attempt to bring socio-cultural healing and reconciliation among Naga people wherever they live. Angami Public Organisation President, Dr. Vilhousa Seleyi, welcomed the attendees with a simple message, “The need of the hour is to sow the seed of trustworthy leadership in order to sustain the most blessed land.”
Why Naga Day?
16-year-old Thungdemo Ngully studies in Don Bosco, Kohima. Having taken a seat in the front row, she was as excited as she was succinct. “There is no unity among our Nagas today,” said Thungdemo when asked why she was attending Naga Day. “We can find our identity as a Naga and become strong as a community through a celebration like this,” she hoped.
Her words were reflected by musician Hojevi Kappo who performed alongside his band, Nagagenous, as part of the celebration. “Musicians like us will be there for social, cultural or political unity as long as our society needs us,” he said before taking the Naga Day stage with his team on Wednesday.
Giving a powerful message on the occasion, Naga elder, Niketu Iralu, hoped that the Naga Day celebrations would “take us in a creative direction.” Reconciliation of society through healing wounded relationships will help the society move forward, he said.
Naga Day was organized by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation by taking this into account.
When Nagas submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission on January 10, 1929, expressing the aspiration to live as one, “the Nagas became a people and a nation,” stated Iralu. Thankful for having been woken up as a people through this gesture, he regretted the “stagnant, corruption ridden, destructive” status quo that Naga society has hit today.
While encouraging the youth to go beyond this and take society forward, the elder reminded that “we must end blaming each other for what we have not achieved yet, and learn to inspire each other to do what is right and what is good.”
Thus, Naga Day.
“Naga people coming together like this from across borders is very enlightening,” maintained youth activist, AC Thotso, in attendance from Manipur. For apprehensive souls, he said, “A final settlement to the Indo-Naga issue is in the offing. For its smooth landing, it is significant that we become united as a people.”
The FNR presented the Naga Day Declaration* as part of the program, reigniting the collective desire of the Naga people to live as ONE PEOPLE.
Soul of Naga history
Tiasenla (23), a graduate who lives in Kohima, was volunteering at the Kohima Local Ground as part of the Naga Day celebrations. She is honest about how the youth today is concerned more about the economy than the political objectives the older generation sought to achieve.
She acknowledged, “Our elders have done their part and it is now time for us to serve. Coming together like this definitely gives a great sense of togetherness but it is hard to relate to the older generation and the Naga movement.”
According to youth icon and musician, Tali Angh, “It is important to catch the spirit of this occasion—the spirit of hope, reconciliation and triumph.” In that, he wished that more young people had participated in the celebrations today. “Youth today have a different sort of attitude and need an extra push to attend such events,” he explained before performing on stage.
The celebrations were brought together by various artists like him—the Naga Choir, the Nagaland Chamber Choir, Pfüchazhünuo, Angam Khong, Labu Sakhrie, Featherheads, Neikim Hangshing, Eastern Naga Team, Alobo Naga and the Tetseo Sisters.
One among them was ‘Dreamz Unlimited’ that performed ‘Zero Point’ to drive the Naga reality home with a tickle of the funny bone. Deploying Nagamese, they cut the point across to those participants, like a shy vegetable vendor from Kohima, who could not understand the English bits of the program but was attending because she had heard that Nagas from everywhere are coming together for Naga Day. Music and performance plugged her in with the rest.
“If we can share our wisdom together in this way, the Naga future is bright,” said elated veteran activist Aram Pamei.
Reflecting her enthusiasm, Rev. Dr. Wati Aier, Convener of the FNR further injected enthusiasm into the participants. “The soul of Naga history is alive!” he declared.
“Naga Day consolidates a culture of belonging and this will continue to spread influences that Nagas are without borders,” he said. Encouraging the youth, he enthused, “We must begin to pave ways for our young hearts and minds to hold the future of the land.”
For this, Dr. Kethoser Kevichusa laid down the principles and necessity of “Friendship and friendliness” to grow as a society; to understand rights and responsibilities as citizens of a society.
Reconciliation is Revolution: Call to Common Action
Naga Day is a time to embrace differences, explore visionary imaginations; it is a call to Common Action. FNR member, Dr. Aküm Longchari, stated this while speaking at the Naga Day.
Naga Day is “urging all of us to be a shining light in the growing darkness of despair.” For this, there is need for Naga people to “recover, relearn and nurture Naga values and ethos to light our path to the future,” he reflected.
In Naga society today, “truth has been suppressed, mercy is blinded, justice kidnapped and peace does not exist.” The place where all of these elements meet is Reconciliation.
“Reconciliation helps us restore our wholeness as a people. It is a call to common action and is not limited to forgiveness. At heart, reconciliation is revolution.”
Dr. Longchari called for Naga Day, every year, to become a space where “we commit to the values of truth, mercy, justice and peace to begin the revolution of the hearts and minds—where the Naga identity becomes distinct and determines the pathway to our future.”
“Let us not borrow the future of our children, as our parents did ours. Let the light in us be lit today so that we become the difference.”
The Naga Day was chaired by Dr. Rosemary Dzüvichu and Rev. Dr. Ellen Konyak Jamir.