The Naga people frequently discuss returning “back to the roots.” However, this journey often leads us to confront an inevitable “Tribalism.” This tribal instinct tends to emerge at unnecessary times, despite our undeniable tribal affiliations. The Nagas consist of numerous tribes and subtribes, yet it’s time to transcend water-tight compartmentalization along tribal lines for the greater good of the Naga nation rather than individual tribes.
Undoubtedly, we possess a rich historical past, customs, culture, and tradition, necessitating the responsibility to preserve and transmit this heritage to future generations. However, a civilization cannot remain static; it must evolve to thrive. To flourish, a society must learn to coexist not merely based on external categorization but by identifying as a collective entity.
Historically, various tribes in Britain engaged in constant conflicts, leaving them vulnerable to external threats. The lack of unity made them susceptible to Roman occupation. Similarly, the Nagas, characterized by tribal republics and internal conflicts, were on the brink of colonization. The necessity arose to unify under a singular identity to prevent external dominance. However, this transition from tribal society to nationhood, crucial for political unification, remains unachieved among the Naga people.
Unlike the British who eventually embraced a unified identity as “British,” the Naga community still struggles to abandon the “my tribe,” “your tribe,” or “their tribe” mentality for all occurrences. There is a lack of mass participation in common causes or movements that could lead to a unified front. Moreover, the absence of a legitimate governing body that the entire Naga populace acknowledges further hampers the progression towards unity and nationhood.
The prevalent identification with individual tribes, whether in state or tribal politics, leads to ongoing discord within various Naga civil society organizations and apex tribal bodies. Even in the realm of social media, the trend continues, with individuals resorting to tribal-based abuses. Introspection and evolution are direly needed.
In conclusion, while preserving the rich historical and cultural heritage, it’s imperative to eliminate the divisive “unwanted tribal instinct” that impedes unity. As long as individuals inquire about tribal affiliations before identifying as Nagas or part of a nation, complete unity will remain elusive.
Tali M Sashi Jamir,