The Naga people are at the crossroads of tradition and modernity, caught between the deep respect for our customs and traditions and the pressing need for progress and change.

Our elders frequently remind us that, “Duniyatoh youth khan laga ase” (It is the era of the youth). Yet, when critical decisions are to be made or leadership roles assigned, the same elders are reluctant to relinquish their authority, often telling us off saying, “Apnehan etia beshi bacha ase” (You’re still too young). While the wisdom and experience of our elders are invaluable, the world around us is changing at a pace that demands fresh perspectives and new approaches.

Our customary laws and practices, like those of many indigenous communities, are deeply rooted in history. They have served us well in the past, guiding us through times when our world was much smaller and our challenges very different. However, these same laws now seem outdated and ill-suited to address the complexities of the modern world. We no longer live in isolated village republics; our world is now a global palm, if not a global fingertip, more interconnected than ever before.

The reluctance to adapt and change is evident in various aspects of our society. While other nations have abolished practices like capital punishment and moved towards more humane and progressive legal systems, we are still bound by archaic customs that no longer serve us. The days of headhunting are long gone, and similarly, many of our traditions need to evolve or be reconsidered.

The pace of change in the outside world is astonishing. While we debate over territorial disputes and cling to old ways, others are reaching for the stars—literally. They are exploring other planets and making strides in technology and science that we can only dream of. This stark contrast raises an urgent question: What are we doing? Where are we heading?

We often hear that standing still is more dangerous than moving ahead slowly. This is particularly true for the Naga people. Our hesitation to embrace change is keeping us stagnant while the rest of the world moves forward. We must realize that change is inevitable, whether we like it or not. Resisting it only puts us at a greater disadvantage.

Our laws and customs were created by us, for us. If they no longer serve the greater good, then it is our responsibility to amend or replace them. A law that harms more than it helps is not a law worth keeping. We must ensure that our legal and social frameworks evolve in accordance with the changing times.

The customs and traditions that have long defined us, while rich in cultural heritage, sometimes act as barriers to the advancement of our society. One of the most poignant examples is the exclusion of women from community decision-making processes. In our community meetings, it is rare to see women present, let alone participating. Are they even allowed? This exclusion not only silences half of our population but also deprives us of the diverse viewpoints and ideas that women can bring.

The voices of the youth and women must be heard and valued in our councils. Their perspectives are not just beneficial; they are essential for our progress. If we continue to stifle these voices, we risk being left behind in an ever-advancing world.

While we honour and respect our traditions, we must also recognize the need for change. The future of the Naga people depends on our ability to adapt, innovate, and move forward. It is time for the elders to trust the younger generation, to listen to new ideas, and to allow the baton of leadership to be passed on. Only then can we hope to keep pace with the world and ensure a prosperous future for our community.

Talimoa Jamir

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *