By Longrangti Longchar
Times like this bring out the best or the worst in us. In one part, we as Christians out to all those in need; and on the other part, we as Christians, is also confounded with this timeless thought, just like the Shakespearean Hamlet ‘to be or not to be’.
We are going through an extraordinary time, unprecedented in recent times. On one hand we have the unsolved Indo-Naga political issue which was on the verge of finding a ‘final solution’. On the other hand we have this COVID-19 pandemic that has all of us on our toes. Now, we also see the Chinese armies taking advantage of the pandemic and creating problems in the South China Sea and also the borders with India. The question now is where do we stand?
We are in the firing line; in fact, if anything happens between the neighbors, or the nations that are involved, or for that matter, this COVID-19 pandemic, we do we stand. Where are we standing? That is the question. And that question, fortunately or unfortunately, should be answered by the Nagas only.
Therefore, what are we as Nagas? We are proud and we deserve to be to some extent. But looking from a geopolitical point of view, who are we? We are nothing but just a miniscule part of the humanity. The question is, are we going to assert ourselves as a people in that miniscule part of humanity. Yes, we should.
The world today is a global village; we cannot win wars through ‘the barrel of the gun’. If we Nagas have to assert ourselves as a people, then we must go back to our roots and stand by it.
It is very sad that we could not celebrate Moatsü, the sowing festival of our forefathers because of this COVID-19; and we are not sure whether we can celebrate Tsüngremmong, the post harvest festival too. It is a sad scenario.
My colleague Moasashi Jamir once said, “There is a difference between preserving and practicing culture (and traditions)”. He was commenting during an off dinner at a Moatsü festival in Mokokchung. But, his words do have some meaning. It was accentuated by our most learned scholar, Associate Prof. Akok Walling (retired principal of Dimapur Government College) who, during the 50th anniversary of Golden Jubilee, said that we fail to understand the ‘philosophy’ behind the ways of our forbears.
Prof. Akok Walling said that our forefathers carried out every act like head-hunting, or anempong (jenna) with a purpose; a higher purpose with honour. He said that the ways of our forefathers (and even foremothers) though illiterate, knew about “sobaliba” and about how a society should be and should go on.
Today we are here. In between the past and the present. We are not able to accept our past, maybe because they are illiterate. We cannot march to the future because we do not know where we stand. Jawaharlal Nehru once said, ‘to forget our past is to uproot ourselves…decay and die’.
We are dying. So where do we start? Once upon a time, the British regarded the Indians as third class citizens and they took it upon the policy of ‘white men’s burden’ to civilize the uncivilized Indians. It was only those historians like Mujumdar and others who, after thorough research, established that the Indian civilization was older than the British.
We cannot live in the past. We cannot live in the future. As an Ao Naga, we have to think of what we are in this world; the world encompassing of this 7 billion people. We are little in number but we are noble. We are neglected but we are resilient. We are downtrodden but we are brave. And the land love loves us, just like it loved our forebears.