‘Hornbill Festival would be poorer and incomplete without Literature’

Dr Vizovono Elizabeth, Member of Writers Collective

Dr Vizovono Elizabeth, Member of Writers Collective

Morung Express News
Kohima | December 4

While literary events are relatively quiet and don’t always draw very large crowds and especially in the present context, with it being drowned by the noise and glitz of everything else that is part of the Hornbill festival, Dr Vizovono Elizabeth, Member of Writers Collective underscored that “the famed Hornbill Festival would be poorer and incomplete without literature.”

Illustrating her point, she said that, “as we celebrate our Naga culture at the festival of festivals, it is pertinent to remember that stories are what we are made of.” Without our stories, she underlined that, “we would not have our own culture” while stating further that “in the past, our stories existed in an intangible oral form, and were passed down through conscious transmission but now we have access to the written word.”

Panellists of 'Folklore & Indigenous Fantasy' 

Further pointing out that “by writing our stories, we bring forth a tangible form of our culture”, she also affirmed that, “literature makes our stories more visible and present in a concrete form.”

On the range of panel discussions that were held over the past two days, she said, “the topics were so diverse, bringing together different aspects of the unfolding Naga story” while also putting across that “these thoughts encapsulate and bear witness to our reality and make us see and understand ourselves better.”

She also exuded the dream of Writers Collective to promote Naga literature and provide a platform for our stories to be told and heard. Since its inception, she added that, “we are growing and moving forward” and solicited the continued support of those who were part of it even in the days to come.

‘Nagaland in the Diasporic imagination’

Citing ‘Suffering, Displacement and Return’ as diasporic elements, Dr Visier Sanyü on Monday related his own personal story that fit into these elements having relocated from Nagaland to Australia and subsequently returning back home. He was speaking on the topic, “Nagaland in the Diasporic Imagination” at the Nagaland Literature Festival at Capital Convention Centre, Kohima wherein Dr. Theyiesinuo Keditsu was in conversation with him.

Talking about the diasporic elements, Dr Visier Sanyü expounded on “suffering” while recalling the period during the 1950s when Naga villages were rampantly burnt. Suffering, he impressed upon is usually because of the trouble in the land, which is generally followed by displacement and subsequently return to the land.

Sanyü further dwelt on the life in the jungle at that point of time while expressing that, “people of my generation will all know of this experience and whether you went to the jungle or to the town, it’s the same thing. We experienced the same horror.”

He also talked about the transitions in his personal life even as he navigated his identity both as an insider and outsider.

Mention may be made here that Dr Visier Sanyü is a professor turned Gardener. He was the Head of History Department in Nagaland University before he migrated to Australia in 1996 with family. He taught in La Trobe University and Monash University in Melbourne and also worked with the National Council of Churches in Australia and World vision.

Formerly a member of the International Council of Elders for Initiatives of Change, Headquarter in Caux Switzerland, he has addressed many international forums including the United Nations in Geneva. Visier returned to Nagaland in 2015 and subsequently launched Healing Garden in Medziphema.

‘Folklore and Indigenous Fantasy’

During the panel on “Folklore and Indigenous Fantasy”, Dr Avinuo Kire noted that as indigenous writers, it is very natural to be inspired by the collective story that has been preserved and passed on through storytelling. She also remarked that our fantasy is also rooted to the land while observing that we have been able to become a part of the written tradition in the world literature and tell our story.

Dr Achingliu Kamei, who was one of the panellists, said that the oral literature has all the elements of fantasies, without which oral stories won’t be complete. She said, “when we start to write in the written form, all of these sift and get embedded, and the only difference is that in our traditional oral storytelling we understand our world better.”

When translating, she stated the need to be more sensitive in brigding the gap and also expressed that, “we should be extra careful because the relationship we have with language is also somehow shaped by colonisation.”

However, in the meantime, she said that, “we can write like Nagas” and further exuded hope that, “one day our literature will be global”.

Further deliberating on the aspects of folklore and indigenous fantasy as well creative writing, Dr Theyiesinuo Keditsu also emphasised on the need for good editors and a very vibrant critical culture. The session was moderated by Dr Sentinaro Tseren.

‘Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narratives’

Observing that there is a disconnect between the older and the younger generation wherein the platform where these two come together are dwindling, Dr Talilula however noted that in terms of expression, “we have developed a lot and have become much more expressive”.

Describing the graphic medium of storytelling as “very catchy and engaging”, she also said that there is a lot of scope on the visual medium.

Meanwhile, Animator & Story Artist, Meren Imchen noted that despite the invasion of Artificial Intelligence, the traditional method of making artworks will always have its value.

Moa Lemtur, who is a graphic designer, illustrator & painter was one of the panelists while Megosano Sakhrie moderated the session.

‘Reading Nagaland’

Celebrating the diverse works of Naga writing, the second day of the Nagaland Literature Festival also featured the works of several Naga authors and poets during the ‘Reading Nagaland’ session both in the category of Prose and Poetry.

Those who participated in the Prose category included 7-year-old Lavir Infinity Sumi, Konaei Shongdok, Lanusenla Jamir, Dr Avinuo Kire, Abokali Jimomi, Ketoriavi Sakhrie and Vishü Rita Krocha while Sentisuba, Chenonlo Aaron Woch, Dr Talilula, Ketousieno Priscilla Khamo, Dr Emisenla Jamir, Thejasanuo Khezhie, Elongshila Jamir and Dr Jungmayangla Longkumer read during the Reading Nagaland in the poetry category.