Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, April 6: One of the leading educationists to emerge from the Ao Naga community, B Tekalong passed away in Dimapur on Saturday after few years of battling Alzheimer’s and dementia. He was 81.
Alas, for all of us at Eastern Mirror, he was the father of our Executive Editor, Wapongmeren Longkumer. Tekalong passed away at around 12 noon on Saturday. After a brief funeral service at his residence in Notun Basti, Dimapur at 7.30 am on Sunday, the mortal remains will be taken to his native village, Aonokpu in Mokokchung distirct where he will be laid to rest.
Born on October 10, 1938 in Aonokpu village to Pangerchiba and Mayangrepla, Tekalong was known for his love of teaching and music in equal measure. He married Maongla, daughter of L Imti Aier of Süngratsü village in 1973.
For someone who devoted his entire life to teaching and to the field of academics, it comes as no surprise that he had once proclaimed thus: “My students are my best teachers.” According to his family, his motto in life was: “Learn to teach and teach to learn.” He was popularly known as Prof. Kalong.
He first joined Fazl Ali College in Mokokchung as a lecturer in 1976 before becoming its vice principal in 1984. After a two-year stint there, he was made the principal (honorary) of People’s College in Mokokchung; then after another two years, the principal of Sao Chang College in Tuensang.
In 1989, Tekalong became the secretary of the Nagaland Public Service Commission. Then in 1990, he returned to Fazl Ali College as the principal and remained there for nine years.
In August 1, 2002, he became the principal of SD Jain College in Dimapur before resigning on June 23, 2003. Finally, he served as the administrator of St. John College, Dimapur from May to December, 2006.
Again, not surprisingly for someone of his generation, Telakong was an ardent lover of plants and was known for planting saplings along the highway in many of his travels, and in all the places where he served as a government employee.
Even Alzheimer’s and dementia could not defeat his love of music. In his final days, when he could barely recognise his loved ones, the old professor would still hum Christian hymns. During his college days, he was an active member of Student Christian Movement and involved himself in games and sports, according to family sources.
Tekalong was a member of All India History Congress; member of National Service Scheme; board member of North Eastern Hill University; board member, Clark Theological College in Mokokchung; board member of Baptist English School in Mokokchung; board member of St. John’s School in Tuensang; president of Japukong Students Union; and secretary of Longpok Semchir Telongjem.
He matriculated from Government High School, Haflong in 1960; and obtained his Bachelor of Arts (History Honours) from Cotton College, Gauhati in 1964; and Master of Arts (History) from the University of Gauhati in 1966.
‘Prof. Kalong’ is survived by his wife, three daughters, one son, and seven grandchildren.
The additional director of Higher and Technical Education, Dr. Watijungshi paid glowing tribute to Tekalong. Speaking to Eastern Mirror, he said that Tekalong had created the reputation of a pioneering teacher at Fazl Ali College.
“His contribution (as an educationist) is immense. As a person, he was very honest, very sincere,” he said.
Rio hails unsung hero
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, in a condolence message, described Tekalong as an “unsung hero, an intellectual who made many sacrifices for the betterment of higher education so that the future generations in particular will benefit.”
“He was a sincere and dedicated educationist who quietly gave his best for the development of higher education in the state. His quiet demeanour was proof that he did not seek fame or to be in the limelight. He was focussed on his ethics and rendered his best services to the state,” Rio stated.
Expressing grief at the passing, the chief minister stated: “My wife and family, along with all officers and staff of the chief minister’s office, join me in expressing our deepest condolences to the bereaved family members. As we join in sharing your sorrow, we humbly pray that Almighty God will guide you through the pain of this loss.”