Naga Plebiscite Day: A Call For Deeper Understanding Among Nagas - Eastern Mirror
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Naga Plebiscite Day: A call for deeper understanding among Nagas

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: May 16, 2024 11:46 pm
Naga Plebiscite Day
Participants and members of Zhaimai (Liyai) Baptist Church who presented folk song on the occasion of 73rd Naga Plebiscite Day in NBCC Convention Centre, Kohima on Wednesday. (EM images)

KOHIMA — The 73rd Naga Plebiscite Day, observed on Thursday at the NBCC Convention in Kohima, was a call for peace, hope, and deeper understanding among the Naga people.

The event, organised by the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR), commemorated the 1951 plebiscite conducted by the Naga National Council (NNC) under AZ Phizo.

The gathering included people from all walks of life including various Naga political groups who asserted for re-examination and recommitment to the Naga people’s aspirations.

Addressing the event, FNR convenor, Rev. Dr. Wati Aier said the story of the plebiscite holds an abiding significance in Naga history. “The very rationale for us being here today is this abiding significance. Today, it is producing a spark of real hope”, he said.

“In order to grasp this hope, we are called to an orientation of the possibility of a future with a renewed spirit and heart–a spirit and heart that will transcend the immediate circumstances created by individuals and groups”, he said.

Naga Plebiscite Day
Rev Wati Aier addressing the 73rd Naga Plebiscite Day in NBCC Convention Centre, Kohima on Wednesday. (EM images

Stating that the unhappiness, anger and despair from the young and old are a result of a loss of belief that the Naga future is possible, he urged the Nagas to honestly confront the present state of internal divisions that has “conditioned us to define ourselves in opposition to others.”

“There is no ‘different Naga.’ The historical and political rights of the Nagas have been weakened by the process of ‘othering’ each other. Yet, although Nagas have been weakened, we are not destroyed”, Aier asserted.

He went on to state that there is a great Naga potential that needs to be organised around the spirit of belonging. The Naga people share more common interests than points of conflict. This seed is already planted, and needs persistent planned nurturing, he added.

Aier urged the young generation to accept the challenge that Nagas must show its altruism by starting a collective movement to stop destroying the most cherished ‘belonging.’

Naga Plebiscite Day
A section of crowd during the 73rd Naga Plebiscite Day in NBCC Convention Centre, Kohima on Wednesday. (EM images)

“A generation that does not offer its members the ability to work towards the common good is not a worthy generation. In our context, we have shamefully incited violence against each other. We have hesitated to grow our identity and history within the larger Naga identity and history. We have fallen prey to the temptation of alienating ourselves from the larger Naga family”, he said.

He told the gathering that it is through sacrifice that the seeds of real freedom, peace, and justice will come to fruition for the Nagas.

“We can hope for Naga people. To hope for us is to, at the same time, hope for our neighbours. To hope at the expense of others is to limit oneself,” he said.

“Let us hope that the dangerous memory of anger, hate, and revenge will be reconciled and left behind. We must hope that, through cooperation, we will soon cross the hillocks of division. We hope because people have the power, and soon, Nagas shall sing the song of peace, freedom, and mutual respect,” he further added.

President of the Naga Mothers’Association President Vilanuo Yhome also appealed to the younger generation and children to remember the long years of the Naga struggle and keep the flame alive in their hearts till the freedom is achieved.

She further appealed to the leaders for peace and reconciliation and a rededication to the spirit of Nagas as one people beyond all borders and manmade boundaries.

Naga Plebiscite Day
Dignitaries during the congregational singing of the Naga National Anthem. (EM images)

Addressing the occasion, Zhopra Vero, Kedallo, NNC/FGN and Co-Convenor of the Working Committee, Naga National Political Groups, said it is a time to examine where Nagas stand today and where it is headed to.

“At one time, our adversaries made us stronger and helped us to bring down the dividing walls among us. But today, I doubt if we are a stronger people because of our adversaries, both from within and without”, he said.

He also wonders if all the contemporary challenges are a necessary indication that the times have changed and so have the political realities that come with it. He prayed that the Nagas draw inspiration from the 1951 Naga Plebiscite and take corrective and pragmatic measures that will bring Nagas together to forge collective identity and destiny.

Member of the Collective Leadership of the NSCN (IM), Rev. A Puni underscored that the outcome of the plebiscite was a resounding affirmation of the Naga people’s desire for self-governance and symbolised the unwavering commitment of every Naga to uphold their distinct cultural heritage and traditions.

Naga Plebiscite Day
Harvest Choir Dimapur presenting song during the 73rd Naga Plebiscite Day in NBCC Convention Centre, Kohima on Wednesday. (EM images)

“Because of A.Z. Phizo’s extraordinary leadership, Nagas could proudly claim our share on earth and also in heaven as well”, he said.

He added that the journey towards self-determination is far from over and that Nagas must remain steadfast in the resolve to build a society where everyone can live in dignity, equality and respect.

He called upon the Nagas to renew their commitment for freedom and together strive for a future where every community can thrive in dignity and freedom.

Representatives from various other NPGs also addressed the occasion.

Highlights of the occasion included folk songs by Zhaimai (Liyai) Baptist Church, songs by Harvest Choir Dimapur and Manngai H Phom, invocation by Rev. Khrotso Mero, former CBCC executive secretary.

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: May 16, 2024 11:46:29 pm
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