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    Orality

    Nagaland is home to nearly two million people consisting of 16 constituent major tribes that speak over 89 dialects (mostly mutually unintelligible between two tribes) and are without a common language and script.

    According to the most famous legend regarding the Naga script, it was given to the people on animal skin which, when nobody was looking, was eaten by a dog leading to the script being lost forever. Certain variations to the legend also claim that the Assamese script was given on stone for which it endured as against the Naga script on animal hide which perished.

    A Flag, a Story and a Nation

    One of the first women to ever weave the Naga national flag, Lathon Kemp, passed away on the 5th of January, 2021. The news of her death brings to mind the flag and the very important place it holds in the life of the Nagas. Although, it was hoisted for the first time on the 22nd of March in 1956 in the Parashen-Rengma region, the Nagas believe the flag to have a divine origin and not designed by any mortal. A red, green and yellow rainbow is spread out against a field of blue which represents the sky.

    The Introduction of African Rice in Suriname

    Genetic research into rice from the inlands of Suriname draws attention to the history of West Africans who were deported as slaves to this former Dutch colony. While there are many grains of Asian rice, Surinamese black rice, ‘Blaka aleisi’, turned out to be almost identical to rice farmed by Mande-speaking farmers in West Ivory Coast according to research by Tinde van Andel. This rice was rarely eaten but instead was sacrificed to ancestors and used in spiritual herbal baths.

    Surinamese Children's Songs Are a Reminder of Slavery

    Faya Siton, meaning hot stone, is an old song from Suriname that is sung during a specific children’s game. Children sit in a circle and pass on a stone – in reality often a pit – and rub it on the ground so that it turns hot. While cheerful the song is about Master Jan from Holland who brands people and kills children. The lyrics go “Faya siton, no bron miso, no bron miso. Agen masra Jantji e kir sma pikin”, which means “Hot stone, do not burn me so, do not burn me so. Master Jan has killed someone’s child again.”

    Tradition in Print

    Naga identity has been, in a major way, shaped by orality and Naga history. Its culture and literature have been handed down via the spoken word over generations and is still revered as a custodian of its customs, beliefs and way of life. In the present times however, with orality fast disappearing, there is an urgent need to preserve those narratives in print so that the younger generations too have access to their roots, and that tradition can meet modernity in some manner.

    Code-switching

    I was about four and a half years old when my family moved down from the dunes to the shores of Gaaway – the name for the Niger River from Gao to Niamey. The distance itself happened to be very short, but it marked a shift in my life. It was the moment I stopped speaking Tamashek (Tuareg language) and picked up Songhay. Thus I changed landscape, language and worldview. Years later I would be reminded that I used the words for the wild plants of the grazing plains for the riverside crops.

    Music for Harmony, Music for Peace

    Despite “customary” restrictions, Naga women have successfully paved their way in various fields ranging from politics to literature. In the field of music, we have the Tetseo Sisters, a quartet of four siblings (Alunë or Lulu, Kuvelü or Kuku, Mütsevelü or Mercy and Azi Tetseo) who, through their music and storytelling, celebrate the beauty of the hills and valleys of their native place. Belonging to the Chakhesang tribe and based out of Kohima, the band was formed in 1994 and they strive to preserve the tradition of "Li", which in the Chokri Naga language means "folk songs".

    Ideas Are Bullet Proof: A Hong Kong Campus Democracy Wall

    This is a photograph taken from one of the university campus's democracy wall. These are walls on most campuses in Hong Kong where students (or anyone) can post stickers and messages to support freedom of speech, academia and so on. During the past years Freedom of speech and academia has become increasingly restricted and walls like these have been dissapearing. If we return now to many of these walls they will be empty and even if they are available certain messages are no longer allowed to be written.

    From the Room of Our Own to the Sky of Our Own, We Fight It All!

    Panjab University has a 550 acre residential campus. Being a public funded institute, it gives a chance to many first learners in their families to join higher education. For many women, higher educational institutes are the ramp to take their flight to independence. Curfew rules, limited housing and institutional sexism inhibit the potential which a public infrastructure should otherwise nourish and produce. This further hardens the glass ceiling. These pictures are from a protest which started on 29th of october 2018 outside the main gate of the girls hostel and went on for 48 days.

    Natural Color Workshop, 2021

    With excitement I have received a Indigo material package, shipped from Taiwan. The package is prepared by one of the HAB Principal Investigators, Prof. Min-Chin Chiang, whose project is focus on the revitalization of indigo dyeing, especially the production process of/with natural dye. 

    From the Archives of AUD Queer Collective

    From the Aazadi (Freedom) wall that is a giant pride flag emblazoned with the word freedom in ten of the many, many languages spoken by the people of India, to the Memorial Wall to commemorate and mourn some of the many lives lost to transphobic violence in our country - the queer community turned to the walls of AUD to turn collective joys and sorrows, love as well as violence, into art.  October 2019 marked the arrival of AUD's campaign of censorship to these walls that long held the voices of dissenting, marginalized students.

    Educate, Agitate, Organize: (Not) Ambedkar's University

    Far from sustaining a space for engaged, critical scholarship in service of social justice, the university administration has a history of casteism and has left no stone unturned in fostering Brahminical and Hindu-Supremacist ideals in the university. From scuttling affirmative action policies for SC/ST students to coercing sanitation workers to engage in manual scavenging (a caste atrocity and grave human rights violation) to suppressing any criticism of the Indian State, AUD has been an insult to the memory and vision of Babasaheb Ambedkar. 

    Inquilab Zindabad: A Culture of Debate and Dissent (2)

    Ambedkar University is no longer the fairly progressive university space that stood out amongst its counterparts across the country it used to be -- as a space for critical thought and oriented towards social justice. This was because its community - working class, dalit, adivasi, bahujan, queer, disabled, women students, faculty and staff, had fought hard to make it so. As a university that charges an exorbitant fee for a public institution and barely has anti-discrimination policies for marginalized communities, for AUD to lay claim on Ambedkar's radical legacy was already a stretch.

    True Blue Indigo Kit

    In the process of breeding the indigo vat, we noticed a fermented smell unique to indigo, and experienced the process of indigo becoming a dye through fermentation. We also noted the color cange from green to blue in the oxidation process. We used shibori resist dye techniques for the dyeing process. We applied pressure to the cloth using boards or strings and create a resist. We thought it would be ideal to show contrast between the indigo and the white of the fabric to accentuate the beauty of the blue.

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