‘Language is instrumental in constructing the future of groups, communities’
Dimapur, Aug. 12 (EMN): The Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) in collaboration with Memai Council and Makhrai Rabu Village Council organised a programme celebrating the International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9 at Makhrai Rabu (Makhel village), Tahamzan (Senapati district) Manipur.
Secretary General of NPMHR Neingulo Krome highlighted the journey of indigenous peoples and their struggles around the world since the inaugural session on the first working group on indigenous populations at the United Nations in 1982, said an update from NPMHR. The movements for rights of indigenous peoples progressed from strength to strength and in 1990 the United Nations declared 1993 as the International Year of World’s Indigenous Peoples (IYWIP).
The Nagas participated extensively in the yearlong commemoration of IYWIP through various activities which culminated in the grand celebration of Naga Week from December 1 to the 5th in 1993 at Kohima with the theme ‘Indigenous Peoples- A New Partnership’, informed the update. The celebration was participated by Nagas from all Naga areas irrespective of geographical boundaries. In the succeeding year, the United Nations through its resolution 49/214 declared that August 9 shall be observed every year as the International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples every year to promote and protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Indigenous Peoples around the world, including the UN headquarters at New York celebrated the International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9, 2019 with the theme ‘Indigenous Languages’. This year’s theme was aimed at highlighting the critical need revitalise, preserve and promote indigenous languages and to share good practices through innovative initiatives on indigenous languages, stated the update.
Elias T Lotha, executive council member of NPMHR, while exposing the theme of the event, praised God for “creating the Nagas the way we are with colourful cultures and traditions.” “I regret that I cannot communicate with my brothers and sisters in a language of our own, understood by all and I hope that one day, we will be able to do so,” he added.
“The language that I used today to convey this message is one that is imposed upon us and not in a language of our choosing. Language is instrumental in constructing the future of groups and communities and therefore it becomes extremely important for us Nagas to consciously guard and preserve our language. At this crucial juncture of Naga history, it becomes all the more important as language is important for good governance, reconciliation, peace-building and sustainable development,” he continued.
Peter Khrasi, president of Memai Council in his greetings appreciated the NPMHR for bringing the celebration to the ancestral home of the Nagas. He highlighted on the need for extensive and systematic research and study on Naga culture and language. He also informed the gathering that Memai Council with support from the government will do the best to ensure that Naga heritage is protected, preserved and promoted.
Chinyga Luithui, former convenor of NPMHR South, in his address stated that “language is not only a medium of communication but also the carrier of our culture, history and identity.” Language is also an instrument for domination with the power to determine “how we should be thinking and what others want us to think”. On the urgency of preserving and protecting Naga languages, Luithui pointed that two Naga mother languages are seriously endangered — Tarao language which has 8000-1000 native speakers and Uipo (Khoibu) with 3000-5000 native speakers.
The programme was chaired by Kenneth Mao, executive council member of NPMHR, while Makhrai Rabu Village Council chairman delivered the welcome note. Makhrai Rabu village women and Mom’s Intouch group presented traditional tunes at the event.