Khuochiezie Kohima Local Ground.
The discussions and exchanges in the newspapers and social media on this subject of “Naga Day” have been vigorous and comprehensive. They have brought out the different views and perspectives held by different Nagas,and even by our regionalneighbours and others beyond. So as we meet here today we can say we have a deeper, wider understanding of the subject and one another which is so important. There is no doubt the honest conversations during the last weeks havereopeneddoors people had started to shut to one another. The result would be more distrust.
I am keenly conscious of the undeserved privilege given to me to say something at the start of thisprogramme.Yet I would like to propose that this acknowledgement and celebration of what our history has given us should take us in the creative direction I believe God is showing us. And that is reconciliation within our society through the healing of our wounded relationshipswhich will enable us to grow properly with mutual goodwill and co-operation lifting us up instead of the oppositebringing us down. FNR is committed to this all-important task, and it is of course the joint responsibility of all Nagas.
The question“Why Naga Day” takes us back to what happened on this day 89 years ago. In 1929, on the 10th of January,in Kohima, the historic Naga Memorandum was submitted to the British Parliamentary Commission from London headed by Sir John Simon. The points made by the 20 members of the Naga Club who signed the submission are well-known to all Nagas. I do not need to elaborate them here. WhatNaga Club was and what it is being revived to become again will soon be made clear by another speaker.
As we all know the clear, straightforward stand taken in the Naga Memorandum to the Simon Commission established the political position of the Naga people long before the British whose superior might defeated them left their Empire in South Asia in 1947. The modern Nagajourney that started with the declaration in 1929 to today brings to mind an African folk saying: “He who wakes you up in the middle of the night to go on a long journey, you will thank him only after you have travelled a very long distance with him”.
Today, on Naga Day, we are looking back and assessing the distance we have covered and what we have achieved. And many today may not at all be thankful to our pioneers who in 1929 woke their people up to go on the long journey.Because to today’s generation the journey has taken them to where we are and what we are today – stagnant, corruption ridden, without a satisfying purpose of life, and paralysed, therefore unmanageably destructive, if we are honest.
At this baffling time we must not make our situation worse by denial of the facts and truth, our failures and shortcomings that have produced resentment, desire for revenge and poverty of spirit.Or, by becoming irresponsible, greedy, opportunistic exploiters of our people’s bewildering crisis for personal gratification, disregarding the terrible consequences for society.
The time has come to reject the errors of hate, fear and selfishness of the past and take our society forward together. This will come down to a few points.
1. Because of the price the Nagas have paid to defend and build on the political position they articulated in theMemorandum to the Simon Commission Naga nationality has become a reality. It is not a small thing at all. Today we must appreciate and thank one another and God for what we have achieved, ending our blaming andcondemnations for what has not been achieved yet. This thoughtless mutual blaming has damaged our relationships so badly.
2. Being human, we all make mistakes of all kinds and easily come short of the perfection and glory of God. Therefore, instead of putting each other down by criticism we should learn to inspire and raise each other up to do what is right, needed and best for the common good. We inspire others the moment we point out precisely the places where we, not others, have been or are wrong! Remember “Walk in the light as He is in the light … The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins”?Others are surprised by our simple truthfulness which gives them hope. They mutter to themselves “Damn it, if this rascal can be honest I too can!” I believe this is one of God’s elegant waysof buildingHiskingdom on earth as it must be in Heaven. There’s no other project on earth more exciting, demanding and satisfyingthan building The Kingdom right here and now, the just society on earth. Everyone building it His way is a VIP! The Kingdom up there He will take care. By making others great no one becomes smaller.
3. To create an environment where our society can grow and develop as it should, we need people – leaders and led – who want nothing for themselves. God is able to use such people to build trust, hope and unity.
I believe all this is do-able and on this very special day, let us all make a start and faithfully keep it up for the sake of our society and for the coming generations.
Our homeland is most strategically and perilously placed at the meeting point of nations, races, religions, cultures and ancient civilisations. It is also one of the areas on the globe still quite green with rare bio-diversity hot spots. And we are surrounded by complicated and explosive problems that threaten to bring destabilisation to the entire continent.
If the impacts of the challenges from outside are not to overwhelm us, but make us grow stronger as we should, we urgently need to reach out to one another and restore the health and spirit of our society whatever the cost may be to our pride, prejudices, fears and selfishness. These enemies are not worth our protection.
These are compelling reasons for us to come together and celebrate Naga Day as we are doing today.
[NB: A few sentences not read out during the talk to stay within the strict 10 minutes limit assigned have been added.]