Identity

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.

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.

Different? Not really

The two women are as different as chalk and cheese. And I don't mean in terms of skin colour alone. Their appearance distinctly identifies them from two different regions of India - Northeast and South. They speak different languages and cook and eat food vastly different. But they are one - as women, as mothers as sisters in arms. They are united in their strength in the face of adversity. Migration, resettlement and subsistence bring them together in this space. Each is invisible, marginalised and discriminated against - be it colour, caste or communal identity.

The Network of Women

I am Wekoweu Tsuhah (Akole) and I belong to the Chakhesang tribe of Nagaland. I am a women’s rights activist and a development practitioner, an advocate for gender equality, social and environmental justice. While growing up, I experienced fear and rage as I lived through armed conflict, alcoholism, domestic violence, poverty and these shaped the person I am today. I am passionate about working with people, women in particular; but it is only after I started working with a women’s rights organization – NEN, the North-East Network, did I truly realize and recognize these social injustices.

Traditional House with Bamboo Matting in Htan Taw Village

The housing pattern is usually with bamboo matting in Htan Taw Village. The people in Htan Taw village depend mostly on natural products like this kind of bamboo matting for their housing pattern rather than artificial products. On the other hand, in contrast, these kinds of natural products are more perishable than artificial. They have to cope with this problem with their intuition. Some of them apply emulsion paint, oil rust and the substance that drive the insects away on these bamboo mattings to protect the roof from insects and the climate condition.

Bakhri (2)

Bakhri II
 
The community Bakhri (Granary) at Thuribari, Kokrajhar, is one of the few such Bakhris seen nowadays in Assam. Community Bakhri is representative of a communal living and sharing. Located in an open village space just opposite the Brahma temple, these three small raised mud houses look ordinary but the significance and relevance of them in Thuribari community life is clearly visible from the well-maintained condition of it. 
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