A vision of unity

A screen-grab from a video showing the people of Kutsapo pulling up a truck which had fallen off the road.
A screen-grab from a video showing the people of Kutsapo pulling up a truck which had fallen off the road.

Images of Kutsapomi pulling up a truck bare-handed have 
prompted many to introspect the Naga ‘spirit of unity’ 

Veroli Zhimo
Dimapur | January 15

It has been almost a week since the people of Kutsapo village in Phek district displayed a remarkable show of community participation and pulled up a truck that had rolled off the road— bare-handed and with nothing else but ropes and sheer collective strength. The truck had fallen off the road after failing to maneuver a turn on December 26.

On the surface, several local and international media outlets as well as social media users have lauded ‘the spirit of unity’ and the ‘sheer magnitude of what can be achieved when people come together.’

However, in the context of the state’s socio-political scenario in recent times, the Kutsapomi’s (people of Kutsapo) defining display of unity runs much deeper.

For psychiatrist and social activist Dr P Ngully, it has been ‘amazing’ to see the spirit of unity for a meaningful purpose.

“Just amazing and brilliant to see such highly priced human values emanating from such a situation. This is something inherent of our common Naga community strength and values. May such a spirit pervade our people,” he stated.

Putting community over self
Naga historian and writer Dr Visier Sanyü observed that the Naga society in recent times has been filled with so much division, hatred and marked absence of unity. “In such times, something like this gives hope to the people that not all is lost.”

Dr Visier drew comparisons between the ethos of ‘Tlawmngaihna’—the Mizo code of conduct that essentially puts community over self, and similar traditional socio-ethical principles like the ‘Kethezie’ among Angami Nagas, ‘Sobaliba’ among the Ao Nagas, that are essentially based on the principle of self-sacrifice. 

He shared experiences of growing up in his native village of Khonoma and narrated how the whole village would work together to carry sick persons to the hospital in Kohima, on handmade stretchers. While community efforts like these were the norm back then, he lamented that such instances have now become very rare.

Dr Visier viewed that while the Mizos have seamlessly developed their traditional code of ethics to adapt to contemporary societal needs, Naga society in general has failed to do the same, beyond ceremonial events like stone or log drum pulling, etc.

However, he expressed optimism that the Kutsapomi’s act of putting community over self would ignite a new spark in the Naga people and remind them of the qualities that were once held in high regard.

Similarly, proprietor and managing director of Royal Foundation School, Phek Dr K Hoshi, observed that the show of solidarity in Kutsapo proves that modern civilization has much to take from age old cultures and traditions.

Putting across his observations, Dr Hoshi stated that it is the Naga culture to help one another in times of need. “Our foreparents and parents never left their own fellow citizens to the fate of circumstances,” he said, while adding that the tradition of community participation in any important event was in the form of absolute show of solidarity and not optional.

Referring to the efforts of the Kutsapo people, Dr Hoshi opined that it was also a depiction of how “Nagas take the situation to their stride nonchalantly, even in accidental incidents.”

“The Nagas have much to emulate from this event to co-exist as one people. It is a perfect model for new order not only for Nagas but also for all people around the globe,” he underscored.

‘A pleasant surprise’
The Kutsapomi have since then returned to their normal lives, oblivious to the global spark they have ignited.

According to Kutsapo Village Council Chairman Zashevezo Rhakho, it was a simple attempt to pull out the truck so that the villagers could get their ginger harvest to the market in Dimapur. 

Stating his surprise over the phone calls he received regarding the incident, Rhakho said that the reaction was unexpected. He said that the villagers were ‘simply doing’ what needed to be done. “In fact, we were embarrassed that an accident had taken place because of the bad road condition and were hesitant to share the story,” he added.

Terming the positive response as a pleasant surprise for the Kutsapomi, the Village Council Chairman further stated that community participation is an important part of life in Kutsapo.

He expressed hope that such values would be preserved and displayed in the days to come.