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.

Rejoinder to an article ‘Harsh world of reality’

By: Kaka D. Iralu.:    24 Sep. 2012 1:02 AM IST

With reference to your article “The harsh world of reality,” dated September 21, I do agree with you that the solution to a mistake is to admit that a mistake has been made and then “move on rather than muddying the water.” In Nagaland today, we are living in “muddied waters” because those who have made mistakes have, instead of admitting their mistakes, moved on defending their mistakes and muddying the waters into a thick dark cesspit.
In our history, in my opinion, the first mistake that was made was when some Nagas, against the expressed wishes of the whole Naga nation, embodied in the National Plebiscite of 1952, and also bypassing the Naga instituted NNC and FGN went and signed the 16 point Agreement which merged Nagaland into an Indian state. Yes, we got a state along with all its paraphernalia. But along with this Indian state, we also continued to suffer under the Indian heinous laws like the Assam maintenance of Public Order Act 1953, the Disturbed Area Act 1955, the Armed Forces special Act 1958 etc. On the eve of our statehood, we were further slapped with The Nagaland Security Regulation Act 1962 to be followed by The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967and the amended Armed Forces Special Powers Act1972, etc.

Now, those who collaborated with the Indian Government were protected from all these heinous laws by the Indian Army, Paramilitary forces and the Indian Police. And as these collaborators signed arrest warrants, fine warrants, village deportation warrants etc, the muddied waters of Nagaland soon turned crystal red with Naga blood and Naga tears. To use your own language, these Acts and Regulations have continued to hang over the heads of every other Naga from1953 to date. As for the Naga who collaborated with the Indian Government, they got all the privileges of Bureaucracy and Ministership under the Indian Government all their lives and retired with fat pensions in the end.
The approximate proportion of those who got protection and those who have suffered, today stands at the ratio of one lack people as against one million and nine lacks. Most of the benefits from statehood were also pocketed by those who were and still are protected by the Indian Government.

Then there were the other mistakes of the Revolutionary government of Nagaland breaking the backbone of the NNC in 1968 to be followed by breaking of the FGN backbone by the formation of the Government of the People’s Republic of Nagalim (GPRN) in 1980 and the further breaking of the GPRN into IM and K in 1988. As if this was not enough, the NSCN IM’s backbone was again broken when the Unification group walked out, only to walk again into the NSCN K and break the NSCN K’s backbone into Kehoi NSCN and Khaplang NSCN. As to who did all these Naga backbone breaking activities, other Nagas are not so stupid as to not know who are responsible for all these nefarious activities.

Khekiye, at the outset of your article you had posed the question: “Did NNC lose its way?” In the light of all these facts of our history, I would like to ask you a counter question; “Who in your opinion, lost their way? Was it the NNC or the other breakaway groups?
As for Phizo and Adino’s elections to the post of NNC president, they may not have performed as much as the Naga nation expected of them, but at least, they did not elect themselves to that post. In the case of Adino, I do not know from what NNC Yehzabo you are quoting the rules and regulations for appointment of the President because the NNC does not have a separate Yehzabo besides the Yehzabo of Nagaland. In this Nagaland Yehzabo, nothing is mentioned about the election of the NNC President except for the President of the FGN.

The actual practice of the election of the NNC President is one where all the regional members of the NNC first meet and elect a President which is later ratified by the General body of the NNC which includes every Naga present in the General Assembly. In Adino’s case, Tubu Kavichusa, the General Secretary of the NNC, announced that the Regional Members of the NNC (Central Executive) would meet on 11th May 1990 at Kohima village for election of the next President after Phizo’s death. This Central Executive met and nominated Adino’s name for Presidentship. Adino’s name was proposed by the Ao regional member. Time was given both in the Central Executive meeting as well as the next day’s General Assembly meeting for nomination of other candidates. Even a specific recess was given by Tubu so that the various regions could discuss among themselves. But after the recess, when no other names were proposed, Adino was elected unopposed on May 12, 1990.

As for the Shillong Accord, I stand by what I have stated and will not repeat myself as my readers must be already bored by all my repeated writings on the Shillong Accord. If you however want to know more details, you can go back 15 years from date and check up my writings on this issue in all the local papers of Nagaland. You may also refer to my second book “How then shall we live” under the caption ‘The Shillong Accord and its aftermath- a historical retrospection.” pp 48-58. NPN