The family is the basic unit of the naga society. Marriages are usually monogamous and fidelity to the spouse is considered a high virtue. Marriage within the same clan is not permitted and is considered to be incest. Incestuous couples were previously ostracized from the villages. The family is the most important institution of social education and social control. There is deep respect for parents and elders within naga society. Material inheritance, such as land and cattle, is passed on to the male offspring’s with the eldest son receiving the largest share (indicating that the society was pseudo-egalitarian).
After India’s independence from British rule, the naga were the first ethnic group from north east India to rise up against accession to India. The legendary naga leader Angami Zapu Phizo spearheaded the initial movement with the Naga National Council (NNC). In the dying days of the British Raj, hectic parleys were led by him for a sovereign naga nation. Consequently, in June 1947, a 9-point agreement was signed which promised bringing the naga tribes under a single administrative unit and the naga right to self-determination after 10 years. However, disputes arose over the interpretation of the agreement, and many in the NNC opposed it.
Under Phizo, the naga declared their independence from the British on 14 August 1947, a day before India. In May 1951, the NNC claimed that 99 per cent of the tribes supported a referendum to secede from India which was summarily rejected by New Delhi. By 1952, the NNC led a guerrilla movement which resulted in a violent crackdown by India’s armed forces. Phizo escaped from the region through East Pakistan and went on an exile to London where he inspired the movement till his death in 1990.It’s a sad fact that the indigenous peoples of the world are being systematically wiped out. Yet as an Englishman who has only known the modernized world, I still have to ask myself if the answers to the future don’t lie in a world of cultures that we are busy trying to destroy. We are all too busy rushing for the future when the answers are in the past, all too busy clinging onto the notion that the direction we take is the right direction for all. Why should the indigenous peoples of this planet not be able to live as they have for hundreds of thousands of years? I am in no way saying the naga should still be headhunters. They have changed, have adapted. Then why can we not change and adapt?
In your minds you are probably seeing visions of fierce and wild-looking tribesmen, of heads on poles and of brightly decorated headgear… of savages. But the naga have given the world great authors, musicians, designers and sports personalities. Mary Kom is a five-time, World Women Boxing champion and Kario Issac Maheo is an SFL Champion. He is actually related to Peter through marriage. Isn’t that cool.
Asa Kazingmei is a famous fashion designer and Seyie Putsure is a world renowned interior designer. Marina and Chonchon are both naga super models. Great musicians have come from the humble beginnings of the naga. Bands like Purple Fusion, Polar Lights, Alobo Naga, Alo Wanth to name but a few. If you have never heard of them, Google is always at hand. Both Kaka D Iralu and Easterine Kire Iralu are both famous, naga authors. So as you can see, the naga, far from being an unknown, indigenous people, they have given the world no end of wonders.
In the fourth and final part of this series I would like to your attention the plight of the naga people. For they have been a part of this planet since the dawn of humankind. They are an indigenous people, a people who have faced colonization and modernization head-on. They have their own culture and their own identity. Their lands have been divided up into three states and two countries. Their voice needs to be heard.
Until next time,