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Op-Ed

Naga National Soul Has Never Been Colonised

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By EMN Updated: Jan 10, 2022 10:32 pm
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Naga Day Celebration by Naga Club at Kohima Village Council Hall,

Nagaland, 10th Jan 2022, 10:00 am

Presidential Address

I, on behalf of Naga Club bring you greetings in the name of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, on this auspicious occasion of Naga Day. Our forefathers, passed on to us a great heritage and historic legacy based on mutual respect, selflessness, openness, integrity, humility, self reliance, hard working, consistency, hospitality, courage  etc. We are indebted to them for an illustrious and distinguished history in all fields, be it social, political, ecology and eco -system, community living, etc. apart from our priceless traditions and customs.

Nagas are moving fast into the modern world and new threats and challenges are staring us in the face. It is a litmus test of our age old virtues, human values and unity and how best we respond to these threats and challenges with clarity of thought, integrity and steadfast moral courage, will define “who we are or where we are heading”, so we need to be adequately equipped to face the complexities.

The Naga Club reaffirms its commitment and mandate to work for the welfare of the whole Nagas and stands strong in its belief that differences or disputes, arising out of hatred, lies, corruptions, manipulations or bitterness will not be allowed to weaken and divide the Nagas.

Nagas, facing greater challenges today, should place the common good above all else and work as one, to acquire wisdom from the Almighty God to set aside their differences, whenever they occur, to rise above narrow interests, to make them stronger, to achieve what is right and best for Nagas as a whole.

For many centuries, Nagas lived scattered but freely without subjugation to anyone, also with little awareness of each other. However, each village was a republic by itself, self contained and completely independent. There were few intermittent skirmishes and warfare between the villages, but most of the times against ruthless alien intruders. Head hunting was a practice on the premises of defending their vulnerable women, children and common men. The Naga people had no connection with the new independent India whatsoever; they were not Indians and their territories were not a part of the Indian Union since many centuries ago till date, may I refer an example?

Sir Alexander Mackenzie’s book titled  as  “History of the Relations of the Government with Hill Tribes of North Eastern Frontier Bengal”,  wrote as; “In 1851, no fewer than 22 Naga raids were reported, in which 55 persons were killed, 10 wounded and 113 taken captives. From 1854-1865, there had been 19 Angami raids in which 232 British subjects had been killed, wounded and carried off and these losses have occurred when a chain of outposts was in existence from Barapathar to Assaloo”. The Nagas had taken series of punitive actions due to non-payment of yearly tribute as was practiced, since time immemorial.

The ruthless exploration of the British Government into the Naga homeland encountered some of the fiercest battles from 1832 to 1880. Then British Government sought peace from the Nagas, to end the duration of wars, as such, a “no more fight agreement” had to be made in our Naga tradition, in our favour as per our terms under the leadership of Kienitso Seyie of Khonoma and Pelhou Dolie of Khonoma on March 27 at Mezoma in 1880. The amiable nature of the British won over the hearts of the innocent simple minded people to find acceptance as a friendly nation into our homeland. To ensure a peaceful situation, a rule of law and order was mutually established in our land but not by military conquest or by a treaty condition of surrender or subjugation. The Naga sovereignty has never been colonised by the British at any point of time. 

Later, this was unilaterally interpreted by the British as the small portion of western Nagas, known as Naga Hills District becoming a part of the eastern edge of the British Empire thereby betraying the above mentioned “no more fight agreement” terms and conditions. Therefore the Naga Club on behalf of the Nagas submitted a historic memorandum to the British Statutory Commission popularly known as Sir John Simon Commission on January 10, in 1929 at Kohima.

It means to say that the British were to “leave us alone for sovereignty” as and when their departure from their South Asian colonies took place. This clarification was made much earlier before the new independent India came into existence. As such, Nagas were treated as non- Indians and their territories were not considered to be a part of British India Empire under the Naga Hills Excluded Area Act of 1935. The Naga Hills Excluded Area was proposed by the British Government to be made a Crown Colony of England under the Queen of England, which was unanimously rejected by our farsighted forefathers who took a firm stand consistent with their original stand namely “leave us alone to determine for ourselves as in ancient time”. 

Thus, when the Nagas re-affirmed their original stand and declared their decision to continue as a people and a nation on the departure of the British, they were acting on the basis of the facts of their unquestionable history as understood by them. Nagas expressed their original stand as People’s Republic of Nagaland, “KHUNAK  NGEU  KHUM”. Chang Naga peoples’ war-cry for defending their ancestral homeland, meaning “Our Land Our Own”.  Exercising their self defence in their own homeland which according to them was a divine duty, and was never a case of secession or anti- India reaction, however, the sad reality was that the outwardly superior barbaric Indian military fire-power  and other resources seems to have decided the outcome of the lengthy Indo- Naga clash.

As such, their history is a witness to many twists and turns, characterized by durations of war, violence and military barbarism in our land for seven decades. Although we have suffered subjugation by vastly superior powers outside in our modern history, we ought to be proud that our forefathers did not hand down to us a “legacy of defeat or a defeated story.” They stood unwavering, in defiant defence of our history and honour as a people and a nation. 

Praise the Lord, for the blessing hands of Almighty God is upon us from the beginning till date. As such, “our Minds and our Naga National Soul” have never been colonised or compromised at any point of time. It is the solemn responsibility and bounden duty of every Naga generation to preserve the integrity of this priceless inherited legacy.     

Kuolachalie Seyie,
President, Naga Club

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By EMN Updated: Jan 10, 2022 10:32:47 pm