Dimapur, July 15: The Naga Scholars Association (NSA) on Friday organised a special talk titled ‘Folk oral narratives: Its relevance and function in contemporary times’ in JNU, New Delhi. The session started with a welcome address by Dr Zuchamo Yanthan, president of NSA.
The speaker Dr Achinglu Kamei started her talk with mentioning how oral folk narratives had in the past dwelled in the misconception of how it is about village life and not mainstream in content nor relevance and how this needs to be changed. She threw some lights on how all cultures started with oral narratives including the famed classical texts of Homer and even Indian ones. She spoke about how folklore was a tool for pedagogy and values within the community.
Dr Achinglu also shared about how folklore is an “important genre of traditional literature” and that modern literature is born out of the traditional. There was a phase when because of external exigencies of new faith and politics, the Nagas no longer believed in the goodness of our culture but citing Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s words, she asserted that “We must begin from where we were” which in other words is to revive and connect with our folklore, which is vibrant and thriving even today in our drawing rooms.
It could be in the way we cook our food, the traditional weaves we fish out of our closets, the aphorisms and jokes we retell or in the new Naga writings that we see, she said.
Achinglu also narrated two stories from her recent publication Dawn which is a collection of ten folktales from the Rongmei Naga tribe. She narrated tales that communicate the cultural ethos which are closely associated with the Naga world view. She also emphasised on the need for insiders to preserve stories and legends about survival skill, endurance, ethic, and respect for nature and for humanity through the act of story writing.
Achinglu was of the strong opinion that Nagas could build confidence in their own narratives and regain the self esteem that has been lost in long period of oppressive colonial representation of their culture. Hence, her recent book is an attempt to preserve this legacy of traditional storytelling culture and it aims to connect the younger Naga generation to their roots and identity, and inspire them to take pride in their cultural heritage. Moreover, it targets to provide the readers from all cultures glimpses into the Nagas’ history, customs, and traditions, social relationship and interrelationship with nature, spirits, and the animal world.
She ended the lecture by encouraging the young Naga scholars to write their stories themselves and not to wait for others as it is when we write ourselves that our experiences and our stories can be best told. The talk ended with a very spirited discussion on folk and the afterlives that continue. (Page News Service)