Longkhum— a Naga village in the hills located in Mokokchung district. (Photo Courtesy: apen.small_villageguy)
Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | January 4
The dawn of a new year also marks the dawn of renewed hope for the Naga people to become one, even if it comes with formidable challenges. “Let us hope something happens…because they have been talking about Modi and Shah coming,” says Kohima-based author and former journalist, Charles Chasie.
But he is also mindful of the division within. “Everywhere, we are so divided. So, I am just hoping and praying that our people learn to become a people first.” “For me, it does not matter whether we are independent or non-independent but so long as we learn to be a people, I think there is hope,” he goes on to say.
He further substantiates it by stating, “If we are not a people and if we are not happy with each other, whatever we are asking, whatever our demands are, nothing will happen. We will destroy ourselves, and I think that is the most dangerous thing we are facing.”
For Meripeni Zares, “The place we, Nagas as a society, are in right now, I think, we have never been here before, the way we have been divided.” According to her, the situation requires introspection by looking “deep inside and see what has brought us here. “We cannot be this fragmented. There is no way for the Nagas, as a society, going forward if this is where we are going to stay”, she points out.
Social activist, Kevitho Kera, echoes a similar sentiment, noting that the Nagas are fragmenting into many different pieces. However, his hope for the Nagas in 2023 is, “Wherever we are, we keep the word— Naga. Wherever you are, whether you go separate ways or we are together, I hope that our hearts are one at the end of the day.” He says that the Nagas as “a dot in the global map” cannot afford to live as individual units. “We are just a dot in the global map and if we are working towards dividing even that dot into tiny sub atomic pieces, it is very sad.”
Kera especially hopes that young Nagas, wherever they are, be it in Myanmar or anywhere, will rise up to shed differences and suspicions and claim unity. “I place a lot of hope in the present (young) generation and the ones younger to us,” he says, while adding that the role of the Naga youth, would decide the Naga history.
With the Assembly Elections coming up, he has a message: “Do not sell your soul to the devil just for some ephemeral gains or momentary pleasures because this younger generation are an educated lot.”
While asserting that the youth are well aware of their rights and knows where it is going wrong, he maintains, “If not this generation, who will decide about the future of the Nagas?” “I appeal the young voters to cast your vote if you are 18 and above. Please cast your votes, do not sell your votes, do not indulge in violence, no booth capturing…”
According to Ayieno Kechu, the Nagas have a tendency to get united for the wrong things. This though has not prevented her from keeping hope that the Nagas will be there for one another “as fellow members of humanity, and that, we will be united for good causes.”
Most of the working population (state government employees) are yet to return to work post the Christmas and New Year holidays. A tradition that is indicative of an unhealthy work culture, Meripeni Zares wishes that the Nagas develop a better work culture. “The way we neglect our work, is unthinkable, she says, while posing, “How can we take our state forward if this is the work culture we have?”
According to her, one of the reasons why the Nagas are lagging behind could be because of our work culture despite the society talking about corruption.
With particular reference to the government sector, she states it is a shame that the work input is not relative to the output and the wages paid by the government. “We are being paid rather well by the government but the kind of work put in is nothing compared to it (wages). We really need to look at our work culture,” she says.