The North-East BlogKnow what leading academics, writers, poets, musicians, activists and journalists from the region have to say to develop an informed perspective on matters related to this part of India.
I like to pay particular attention to what my daughter learns in her history class as a high school student. I am curious to know whose version of the story she is reading, how it is shaping her view of the world, whether it is biased. When I was her age growing up in Kohima, I remember studying fat formidable books of British history, also the Mughal empire.
I want to make sure she gets a far broader perspective of history. I would like her to understand the history of colonisation, the history of wars and conflict, the history of minorities and women and so on, across the globe - and understand the patterns of human behaviour and thoughts through history.
Thankfully, it looks like she is getting a far more expansive education in history than I did. I was reading a chapter in her text book about Africa and the European colonisers, how the colonisers created artificial boundaries completely disregarding the history and kinship of the people - an act that created conflict and divisions that continue today long after the colonisers have left.
It was a reminder of the story of the Nagas as well the same suspect fingerprints of colonisers leaving behind artificial boundaries, annexations and the consequent conflicts and bloodshed. History has a way of putting things in perspective and affirming that some kind of resolution only makes sense.
My generation did not have access to books about the history or the story of the Nagas; other towering histories cast a shadow on our own story and significance. However, some great writers and storytellers have emerged to tell the Naga story, not only filling a void but shall we say, they create a compelling polyphony in the stories told about that part of the world.
Certainly by no means an attempt to present an exhaustive list, here are just a few, a few diverse writers and scholars who draw from the social and historical substance of the Nagas.
Easterine Kire's 'Mari,' published by Harper Collins India.
Temsula Ao's 'These Hills Called Home: Stories from a War Zone,' published by Zubaan Books
Compiled and Edited by Susan Waten, 'Of Voices and Paper: Contemporary Short Stories from Nagaland'
Nandita Haksar and Sebastian Hongray's 'The Judgment That Never Came,' published by Chicken Neck
Atai AS Shimray's 'Let Freedom Ring: A Story of Naga Nationalism,' published by Promilla & Co Publishers
Mar Imsong's 'God-Land-People (An Ethnic Naga Identity)'
Kaka D Iralu's 'The Blood and the Tears'
I look forward to reading Sudeep Chakravarti's 'Highway 39,' published by Harper Collins India
I was recently chatting with my dear friend Dolly Kikon, an erudite thinker and writer, and she inspired me deeply as she often does, prompting me to consider the oral culture of the Nagas that history is not just in textbooks, but is carried in the hearts and beings of our people. She said, "As a people with an oral culture, we are each others' witnesses, our grandparents, forefathers and the village will either disown us or embrace us through the words that come out of their mouths. They did not sign contracts and agreements. That brings us to a point how we have to be more responsible and ethical as we continue to say 'we are Nagas'. What is Naganess at the end of the day? We talk about the textual world so much - and of course it is important to learn how to read and write, how to write well, but for me to be a Naga is to continue to nurture this orality we have to constantly work towards integrating it in our daily lives how do you talk, how do we think, how do we connect with the world around us."
More about Senti Toy Threadgill
Senti Toy Threadgill is a singer, songwriter and an ethnomusicologist based in New York City. She hails from Kohima. Her only music album "How Many Stories Do You Read On My Face" was selected by the Wall Street Journal's Top 5 listings (2007) in the alternative music category, a list which included Radiohead and Leslie Feist, one of the most spectacular debuts in music history.
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