By Abraham Lotha
The assembly of about 50,000 people at the Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) Meeting on Feb. 29 at the Agri Expo Centre, Dimapur, is perhaps the largest gathering in Naga political history so far. The dust has settled, the chairs have been folded up, the stage dismantled, and light showers have come and washed away the footprints of the gathering. The Morung Express was very optimistic when it claimed that “the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are falling into place and we are almost there.” Commentators such as Thepfulhouvi Solo described the gathering as “dark clouds and thunderstorms but little rain.” Other words of appreciation have been said and done. Now is the time for reflection and analysis.
So, did the 50,000 people who attended the FNR meeting come to pray or to be preyed upon?
I was keen to attend the FNR Meeting partly because of the urgency of the moment, but more importantly, to learn what the FNR intended to do there. The purpose of the meeting, from the FNR emails and press releases, was twofold: one, “to report to the Naga people the status of Naga Reconciliation,” and two, an invitation to the Underground leaders “to stand before the Naga people and share their views on Reconciliation and their vision on a shared Naga future.”
I sensed an air of hope and optimism as I sat and waited for the meeting to begin. It seemed like the Oriental Theological Seminary choir was the harbinger of these sentiments, with their rendition of ‘Healing of our Spirit,” and “Long, long night is over, Freedom shall be coming, Praise and sing to the Lord.” Because of the optimistic atmosphere, people did not mind the delay in starting the meeting.
Dr. Anjo’s scripture reading and sermon, Evali Swu’s special song about “God you are in control of everything, We surrender, Lord you reign,” Isak Swu’s “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord,” Muivah’s “Until we do God’s wish, we cannot do anything,” and the hymn Bring Them In led by the OTS choir inviting those who’ve gone astray to harken to the Shepherd’s voice, made one feel like we were at a religious revival meeting.
For the most part, the meeting was quite focused. Messages from the civil society such as Naga Hoho, United Naga Council, Dimapur Naga Council, Naga Mothers Association, and from Naga elders such as Niketu Iralu, Hokishe Yepthomi were all in unison for reconciliation as a forward and upward way.
True to form the FNR Meeting on Feb 29th was a report card. The FNR deserves a distinction when one judges it for its relentless effort and commitment to reconciliation. According to the FNR report, from March 2008 to February 2012, the Forum did the following meetings and events: six important Naga gatherings with a maximum attendance of 49 Naga organizations, 82 meetings with combined Naga political groups, 12 meetings with the Joint Working Groups outside the country, 12 highest level meetings with Naga political leaders, 11 combined tours to different parts of the Naga areas, 11 other special programs and events, 278 meetings with individual Naga political groups, and 5 meetings with Khaplang. Nagas should be grateful to the FNR for such dedication and commitment to the cause of reconciliation. It only proves that Nagas have the will and commitment to pursue unity.
Secondly, even as recently as in 2008 and 2009, underground members were dying like the Dimapur flies, but the activities of the FNR resulted in a decrease in factional killings. We have to be thankful to the FNR for saving the lives of many Nagas youth, underground and overground.
Thirdly, the fact that at least the leaders of three factions shared a stage without fighting is noteworthy. It was encouraging to see the faction leaders praying together. This is a big step in the right direction from Isak’s and Muivah’s earlier stance: “Reconciliation in Christ is possible but politically,