Relearning collective storytelling of truth

Akangjungla

Storytelling is considered one of the most effective ways of influencing the listeners. Stories have been used to pass on knowledge and wisdom to the younger generations for thousands of years. Narrating stories constitutes everyday discourse which leads to developing the identity and self-understanding of the people and it also weaves a living fabric of common episode. Storytelling builds connections among the community, and between people and thoughts.

Human beings are narrative creations. The basic narrative activity through the ability of storytelling is where the human imagination takes the shapes of life, sense and perspective. The expression of thinking with stories is a primary tool of truth telling, one that is much needed for transformation on all the fronts. Story- the alternative way of thinking is not deception or contamination free but it does not discourage truth-tellers to speak, more than ever all through the times of conflict, disunity and disorder. 

The art and practice of storytelling is an integral part of the Naga people. Memories of listening to folktales and engaging in conversations over the kitchen fire and attaining education through the medium of narrations in the place of learning have been the point of acquiring values and principles in every Naga culture. Storytelling served the purpose of helping people understand the experience of social structure, religious conviction, institutional customs and other aspects that led the community in live and grow in order and in integrity. Thus, in many ways, storytelling is truth telling about the people. 

In the context of the present times, Nagas are in deep need of stories that will shine light on the questions and issues that are constantly challenging the past, present and future of the Naga people. Without storytelling and truth telling, Naga people might not see moments beyond the descries of disunity in Naga society; the clarion calls to all to come together for the greater cause of Naga people by setting aside all divisions and polarization; the lament of not finding a way forward collectively; the perpetual negotiations for honourable and inclusive settlement; the rising unemployment and corruption, so on and forth. 

Undoubtedly, there is no one universal truth and no particular truth can become the people’s truth. In the process of the storytelling, the truth need not be suitable to the entire world; however, it can be one that gives a voice to the people in the subject. When people’s truth is left out, the functioning of the human society becomes chaotic, the identity becomes vague impressions and the greatest irony is that, truth itself gets lost in the transitions of time, power and control. 

The recent elections and the agendas of the political parties and the candidates have also left the people wanting to hear, test and believe the truth telling as they deliver in their campaign speeches. Due to the convention of failing to keep their promises, people have doubts about accurately evaluating the performance of politicians. While the preference for truth-telling by way of fulfilling their promises is anticipated, it is no secret that politicians are frequently loose with the truth. Similarly today, Naga people need the Naga voice to speak the truth, not of the tribal hohos, civil societies, government, churches, political organsiations and others because they are already grappling with too many questions and issues. Given the monumental task to restore and reconcile the uniqueness of the Naga people, the Naga stories of resilience, determination, truthfulness and courage need to be retold all over again. The inheritances of lived values, observed knowledge, language and culture which weaves the Naga truth have to be passed down to the future generations with the dream to bring forth a new imagination. The hope is for the people to relearn their collective storytelling which once used to shine light on real experiences of seeking truth.

Comments can be sent to akangjungla@gmail.com