Speech of Krurovi Peseyie, Chairman, Naga Club, Kohima on 10th January, 2018 in memory of the submission of the first Naga political representation to Simon Commission on 10.1.1929 at Kohima by Naga Club
“Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set” Proverb 22:28
186 years ago, there had been intermittent wars between the British forces and the Nagas of Naga Hills for 44 years. Then after an unwritten Peace Treaty reached between the British and the Nagas on 27th March, 1880 at Mezoma Village whereby spears were exchanged between the two entities to signify the friendship and peace. Consequent upon the treaty, the British were allowed to establish their Administrative Centre at Kohima and then they started to control some parts of Naga Hills.
During the 1st World War (1914-1918), as requisitioned by the authority of Naga Hills, some 2000 Nagas of Naga Hills went to Europe as Naga Labour Corps in 1917 and assisted the Allied Forces courageously. Captain Dr. Khosa Angami and first Naga officer was also with the Naga Labour Corps as Medical officer. The personnel of Naga Labour Corps returned home from Europe in 1918 having earned good reputations. However, many sacrificed their lives in the war.
It is reliably learnt that some tribe-men of Manipur also went to Europe as Labor Corps under the direction of the Raja of Manipur since those tribe-men were his subjects. In those days, there was no connection between the Nagas of Naga Hills and the Nagas of Manipur. As a matter of fact, there was no compatibility by nature for inclusion of anyone from Manipur to be in the Naga Labor Corps.
Meanwhile, some of the returnees from Europe, especially those who lived at Kohima and nearby Villages, joined the Naga Club which was established by some Office clerks, Dobashis (Interpreters) Village elders and some ex-soldiers in 1918. The formation of Naga Club became the first ever Naga Platform which ultimately acted as the political platform. When we think about the Nagas one century ago, Nagas would have been uncivilized and even head hunting might be prevalent somewhere in Naga Hills as a game of bravery. Indeed, it is a wonder how such an idea of forming a common platform known as Naga Club could be developed in the thought of Nagas in those days. Almighty God had been with the Nagas despite our backwardness and ignorance of His existence, and all those events happened for our good as designed by God.
In 1928, the then Deputy Commissioner of Naga Hills, J.H. Hutton informed some of the Nagas about the visit of the Simon Commission from British Parliament to Kohima next year. With this information, the Naga Club Members realized that there would be an opportunity for the Nagas to convey their desire to the visiting Commission. Accordingly, they entrusted Rüzhükhrie Angami, a teacher, to draft a memorandum, and accordingly, he efficiently drafted it which contained wisdom, vision and political ingredients. How the pioneers of Naga Club had the patriotism and political acumen to assert for Naga future can be seen from the language of the memorandum as I quote “we should not be thrust to the mercy of other people who could never subjugate us, but leave us alone to determine ourselves as in ancient time.” Unquote. The Naga Club asserted that they had represented not only those communities within Naga Hills but including all the Naga regions as the last sentence of the representation runs, and I quote “We claim not only the members of the Naga Club to represent all those regions to which we belong, viz., Angamis, Kacha Nagas, Kukis, Semas, Lothas and Rengmas, but also other regions of Nagaland.” What visionary and inclusive language the 20 signatories used as that erected the first ever political pillar for Naga political aspiration 89 years ago. The 20 members of Naga Club unified the Nagas by their representation to Simon Commission. I salute them and assure you that we shall continue to keep up their legacy alive.
Now, if there is anyone in Naga family feeling isolated and sidelined just for the simple reason that one was not a member of Naga Club or signatory of the representation, it is nothing less than misconception and malevolent. Just the other day, someone published personal opinion in local media in which he said that Nagas’ encounter with Simon Commission in 1929 ‘was completely outdated’. If the historical landmarks of the Nagas are to be condemned in this manner, then what will be the legal basis of our present and future? Should there be any Naga contemplating to undermine the Naga Club, it will only amount to being against the Nagas? Should there be anyone trying to distort and destroy the Naga histories, what future is then left for the posterity? If you are for the cause of the Nagas, stand for the truth and avoid punctiliousness.
In the 11th year of the formation of Naga Club and while the Rajas, the Princes and their Mantris of India including the Raja of Manipur and his Mantris were slumbering in their luxurious life and selfish gains, the humble members of the Naga Club submitted the first Naga National Political Memorandum to Simon Commission on the 10th January, 1929. Thus, the achievement of Naga Club has created an exceptional history and it became the Magna Carta of Naga National Politics. Naga Club’s representation to Simon Commission is therefore the steppingstone of Naga Political Movement. In memory of the pioneers of Naga Club which has landed in its 100th year in 2018, the Naga Club is celebrating the anniversary soon.
“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3:15