Rooted for survival
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ll over the world there are a lot of people without any proper roots, they might even lack their identity completely. There are people who have roots in something or somebody that were “important”, “criminal” or what so ever in last war times. It has become very important to many people to know who you are.As such, the roots and ancestry of a people determine their survival. In this context, NPF President and former Minister Dr Shurhozelie Liezietsu has rightly said that root is the underground part of the plant that holds the tree stem/trunk. Trees with firm roots stand firm but those with weak roots get uprooted especially during a storm.
While speaking on the theme “Roots” as the chief guest at the 20th general conference of the Tenyimia People’s Organisation (TPO) and hosted by the Naga People’s Organisation (NPO) at Senapati on Friday October 31, Dr Shurhozelie also said that the Tenyimia people have descended from Tenyiu, the eldest of four sons of Vadeo.
The Tenyimia now comprise ten fraternal tribes. These are Angami. Chakhesang, Rengma, Zeliangrong, Pochury, Mao, Poumai, Maram, Thangal and Inpui. They are spread over the contiguous areas of Nagaland, Manipur and Assam but under Tenyimia jurisdiction.
Tenyimia is a natural family institution and not a union Dr Shurhozelie said. Therefore, he advocated that it would be in “our interest” to examine the identities of Tenyimia people to “confirm and record our findings properly with regard to the first and final dispersal place of the Tenyimia at the legendary tree at Meikhel.
Nagas are mostly of Mongolian descent over centuries of migrations but they believe in one common ancestor. Makhrai-Rabu-Khyafii (Meikhel) a Mao Naga village in present day Manipur is a rich in historical symbols left behind by ancestors and, these are still treated by the Nagas as sacred symbols of their common descent.
The three small monoliths called Linotu representing, Tiger, Man and Spirit (flora and fauna, human society and the spiritual world); and a pear tree, called, Chetebu, their ancestors planted. Nurtured and protected by rolling hills, for thousands of years Nagas lived under village council systems, free from foreign aggression. Among the symbols are, a tall stone monolith called Tamratu, the stone of dispersal;
. Apparently, this was in recognition of the fundamental differences underlying the social and cultural practices between Hindu and Naga societies. For instance, the Nagas egalitarian communal social structure differed greatly from the stratified caste system of Hindu society.
Dr Shurhozelie lauded TPO for constituting a Research Committee since life styles are changing very fast everywhere and future generations will have “no chance to see the identities of our people that we have seen during our time.”
Other resolutions include ongoing research on origins and oral history and continued cooperation with Naga Hoho, the apex body of all the Naga people.
Identity is also principally a part of social and historical factors created by people’s actions and in comparison to other identities with consistency or continuity over time that is the basis for establishing and grasping the definitiveness and distinctiveness of something.
So, identity must be “identified.” If you get unemployed, if you are not able any more to sustain your living, your roots might be the only thing that helps you to keep up your identity. If you don’t have any known identity – what do you have then? Maybe nothing!
Therefore identity is a feeling of belonging, a sense of being part of a community. Categorical labels like gender, age, class, language, ethnicity/ race, nationality, religion shape identity in their various ways. Their importance gains ascendancy according to the enlightenment of the people in general.
From this it follows that as of the present times political identity has two distinctions. Firstly, political action and institutions contribute to individual political identity. Secondly, the process of identification provides the ground for political allegiance in a political community—which every nation is whatever the ideology.
A shared history and sense of solidarity gives rise to association with a territory and hence nationalism from which derives distinctive species of patriotism. Ethnic difference as a political principle stirs the origins of nations.
In the evolution of any society and, by extension, civilization, the essential needs of the soul must always be taken into account. These needs correspond to basic bodily needs like the requirements for food, warmth and medicine. Such needs can mostly be grouped into antithetical pairs, such as the needs for rest and activity, or for warmth and coolness, and that they are best satisfied when a balance is struck allowing both needs to be met in turn. In communities where all essential needs are satisfied there will be a “flowering of fraternity, joy, beauty and happiness.”
The most fundamental obligation involves respecting the essential needs of others—the “needs of the soul”. In this context, Christian, ancient Egyptian and other traditions have held similar moral views throughout history, particularly on the obligation to help those suffering from hunger. There is also a distinction between physical needs (such as for food, heating and medical attention) and non-physical needs that are concerned with the “moral side” of life. Both kinds are vital, and the deprivation of these needs causes one to fall into a state “more or less resembling death”.
All said and done, however, is that the Tenyimia people are part of a larger entity better known as Nagas. The word Naga is the collective name given to many tribes who traced their descent to a common ancestor. The present population of 3.5 million Nagas are spread out in several thousand villages over a 120,000 sq. km land area.
TPO has resolved to collectively work for better understanding and unity amongst the Nagas living in different parts of the world. It is all for early settlement of the Indo-Naga issue. It expressed confidence in the struggle for fulfilment of Naga political aspirations to be a nation.
These are efforts and struggles of the previous and present generations geared towards preserving our roots—meaning—identity, and to survive as a race and nation.