A Rejoinder to ‘Nagaland Tribes: The Latest Bone of Contention’

Dr. D.Kuolie, Head, Deptt of Tenyidi

NU & Secretary General, Ura Academy, Kohima.

Reading the write up of Thepfulhouvi Solo in your esteemed daily 9-6-2013 I am compelled to clarify certain points on the question of Tenyimia, Tenyidie and its related issues though this rejoinder for public interest. I will also add those left out vital points of his earlier article published in Nagaland Post on 30-11-2009 as the present article is obviously, an extension of the earlier.

The theory of the writer claimed that the term ‘Angami’ is a corrupted form of ‘kerügumia’ (thief) from Zeliang language ‘kergami’. In fact, the Angami people used it without knowing its source and meaning in the early days. However, during 1970s, this theory was clarified by late John of Viswema. According to him, the British army under Captain Jenkin and Lieut. Penberton, when about to cross Tenyimia country from Imphal to Assam in 1832, they asked the Meiteis, what sort of people lived that side, by pointing at Tenyimia country.

They were told ‘Ngami’ which means ‘perfect/independent people’. The word did not conform to the English language and therefore, it was noted as ‘Angami’. That interpretation of late John had a matching version because the velar nasal sound /ŋ/ never occurs in initial English language. To suit to their language, a syllable vowel /a/ was prefixed to the word to form /aŋami/. That version was accepted by Ura Academy since then. Although, the ‘Angami’ is a popular term till today, it has no other meaning in Tenyidie beyond late John’s version. The continuity in use of the term,

‘Tenyimia/Tengima/Tenyimi’ which originates from ‘Tenyiu’ the name of the forefather of the Tenyimia group was accepted by all units by their historical knowledge. ‘Tenyimia’ therefore, means the descendant of Tenyiu. TPO is purely a reunion of the divided family based on blood-lineage. Tenyimia or Tenyidie is a canonized term and TPO is not seeking ‘Tribal Recognition’ from any quarters. The writer’s claim, ‘Tenyimie consists of a convenient number of Nagaland tribes together with one or more from the outside’ is perfectly in line with his earlier writing, ‘The Khezamas, the Sopfümas (Mao), the Zeliangs and the Rengmas never hitherto took themselves as ‘Tenyimia’. So far to my knowledge, the Tenyimia were in unity-form many a time although irregular, till regular formation established in 1993.

Every TPO units stood firm by their history of brotherhood. despite disparagers existed. As such, the idea of ‘disbanding the Tenyimi Union for the future good of the Nagaland’ is not a healthy suggestion, the fact that TPO is a reunion of the Tenyimia family, which is in consonance to the basis of all Naga society. The formation of Ura Academy too, is on the same base. Rev. J.E.Tanquist instituted the Angami Literature Committee (ALC) in 1939 and approved by the then Deputy Commissioner, Sir C.R.Pawsey. In 1960s, those early educated people who served in various Government institutions at Kohima, were also leaders of respective sub-communities.

Having a common wish to bring the people together, those personalities made frequent meeting and deliberation over oral historical account of our ancestors. Following such mutual understanding and acknowledgement, they resolved to modify the name of ALC into Tenyimia Literature Committee in 1970 and ever after the Angami language was renamed to its original term call ‘Tenyidie’. Nomenclature was further made to Ura Academy in 1971, in which representatives of Angami, Chokri, Khezha, Pochury, Rengma, Zeliang and Mao were all present. Their objective is to develop literature, preserve and promote culture and other aspects of Tenyimia community through academic study. We still have some living pioneers for a living testimony.

There is nothing wrong in adapting the meaningful original term called ‘Tenyidie’ by ‘Tenyimia people’ as Mother Tongue. To clarify another significant point is the misinterpretation of the term, ‘Keviu Ú Ya’. I would prefer to translate it as ‘the good (part) is ours’ rather than his translation ‘the better is mine’. The expression is derived from religious philosophy that denotes the claiming of godly blessing to both the villages/parties during celebration of events like ‘vitho’ (treaty) and ‘sonyi’ (friendly exchange festival). His claim of it as a political wisdom for the propagation and promotion of Tenyimia is far from truth.

The writer claimed that except ‘Chokri’ all other tribes within Tenyimia community have distinct languages and having respective Bible and Hymn Book of the Church. The emergence of such books is mainly the product of the church workers for evangelizing the gospel, however, without understanding the gravity of power of a common language. Dialectal variation is natural to all languages of the world. Considering languages as distinct on the basis of those bible and hymn books is far from complete, and therefore, his theory is not acceptable. It will be a safer attempt to study ‘dialectology’ before jumping into a pool of controversy.

Ura Academy has achieved to certain degree in the development of Tenyidie language and literature for the future benefit of Tenyimia community in general, the younger generations in particular. The establishment of Department of Tenyidie under Nagaland University is symbolically, a genuine recognition by the highest institute of learning. There are regular academic activities including research programs rather than a mere coaching class.
The division of geographical area into administrative set-up is generally the outcome of a political decision that binds to the people.

That is why the Tenyimia community as well as the Nagas remained separate till today. However, Tenyimia community like the Nagas, accepted the transmitted history and shall ever remain a family despite shower of spikes and arrows from any quarters. The writer contributes many valuable suggestions for the Naga future, but his historical interpretation on Tenyimia and Tenyidie is not acceptable. It will be better to avoid application of intriguing politics to confuse the Tenyimia people and Tenyidie.

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The background history of Tenyimis family

By: TL Angami, Convenor, Tenyimi Judiciary Court Hq Kuda, Nagaland

As per our Tenyimis Forefathers historical account handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth tell us that the Lothas and Semas are also from the same Tenyimis family. Tenyimis called the Lotha as Cuzhie-u. Cuzhie-u means while the parent provides food among the brothers, he could safe some of his food while other brothers finished their share. And for which, the parent named him Cuzhie-u and still there is Cuzhiema khel in Nerhema Village. And the Sema as the youngest brothers from Tenyimi family is called Sieu as he suffered ill health during his childhood and could not walk fast and was later called him Sema. The brothers of Lothas and Semas may agree or may not agree about this history. But the said historical fact is still fresh in the mind of some elderly as handed down from Forefathers through words of mouth. And there is still a traditional village of Sema as Sewemi Village located in Phek District near Chizami Village.

The Tenyimi family is in existence from time immemorial. It was the Britishers who first called all the Tenyimis as Angamis. As because, they all speak similar dialect of Tenyidie. We also are similar historical background mentioned in the Britishers book of “Angami Country”. It is a fact that in the early days there was no difference among the Tenyimi families, they lived together as a family by blood relation, and same is practiced between villages even today.

It may be stated that the Naga’s demand is Independent state and not the present constitutional state of Nagaland. And as such, no one can divide the families of Tenyimis on the excuse of the present state situated forcibly established in an undermarketed boundary of Nagaland by stating that Mao, Rongmai, Marang, Poumai, etc are not Nagas just because they are not from Nagaland or they are not from Tenyimi family.

As for Aos, I find it difficult to believe that according to the Ao traditional history, they came from a Cave of Six Stones (Longtorok). The present Naga different tribes were all in existence since time immemorial, and it will be it meaningless at present re-recognition of those tribes as traditional tribes. This is more so because, the Nagas are still fighting for Independence and the final political settlement is yet to be arrived at. And moreover, we do not know that what areas would be the final settlement for Nagaland.

Let us not reject each other at this stage, as because, we should not forget our forefathers historical fact so soon say within a half century of time. Also because, such rejection of each other traditional tribes may block the way of Naga integration. The Nagas whosoever live wherever in Naga inhabited areas permanently have right to get his or her share in whatsoever quotas is available for all the Nagas.

And though the Nagas may redefine their National boundary, the Nagas shall live together as a family as one in Jesus Christ. Killing and rejecting each other’s among the Nagas and lay claims only Nagas of Nagaland excluding other Nagas will lead to self destruction. And should this be our attitude the law of the land will force us to go back to our Native Village and thereafter it will be meaningless for the Nagas to fight for Independence.

Remember, it is only Tenyimis land that all the Naga tribes have come together to live as one family. Therefore it will be wrong to keep on harping on the divide on the basis of the so called constitutional boundaries which is nothing but divide and rule policy of the Government of India. Tenyimi family will go together and stay together till the water flows in the River.