Message from Kisama

The Fifth Annual Hornbill Festival got off to yet another colorful start at the Naga Heritage Complex, Kisama Village on December 1 coinciding with the annual Statehood day. Extending the period of the festivities to seven days is a welcome move on the part of the organizers and will provide the much needed opportunity both to the local entrepreneurs in showcasing and selling their wares and also to the thousands of visitors expected at the venue. It’s a win-win situation for both.

That it is a congregation of the different tribal communities in Nagaland coming together in unison is in itself a big achievement and one that will go a long way in celebrating the common heritage of the Nagas in these troubled times. Such occasions can also be used to build bridges of understanding and to generate a feeling of brotherhood among the participants who have assembled from different tribes and regions. It can also be a rare time to interact and share stories of common struggle and aspirations. The unifying force of the Kisama Heritage village against the backdrop of the diversity of tribal hohos present is indeed a significant sight which goes to show that there is a strong desire for unity at the people to people level.

The very significance of the Hornbill Festival should be seen in the fact that a cultural link binds the common destiny of the Naga people. Those in the realm of affairs whether at the State level, national movement or in civil society can learn this crucial lesson that identifying a common symbol such as the Hornbill Feather can do wonders to the human psychology as people are more and more able to understand the common elements of a shared history and culture. 

Kisama presents a small window of hope for the Naga people. Leaving aside ideological rhetoric and the divisive political agenda, the Hornbill Heritage Village can be used as a forum for cultural diplomacy as the first step towards resolving political differences that exists. Non political activities such as cultural exchange programs can be taken up within the Heritage Village. People to people contact can also be set into motion which can act as confidence building exercise in addressing contentious issues if any during later stages.

At the end of the day, Kisama provides both an opportunity and a challenge. As the Hornbill Festival is proving, beneath the grim surface exists common or shared interests. Understanding and bringing out these shared interests into the open is the key to a search for common ground. The challenge would be to understand the differences and work on the commonalities, besides working on a win-win outcome. The big question is, whether the political leadership is up for this challenge? The Hornbill bird has done his part. It is now up to the Naga people to follow the example.