Nagaland has become homes of many communities besides the official 16 tribes of the Nagas, each of which has different dailects/tongues identified with different culture characteristics.All these tongues are quite different from the others and these is spoken within the community level.The Nagamese language has evolved as their common link language among all the tribes of Nagaland who speaks more than thirty/forty different tongues particularly in Dimapur,Kohima and Mokokchung town etc.Nagamese language is the only lingua- franca in Nagaland which brings in a mode of communication and unity amongst different communities of the State and creates National integration.
The Nagamese language comes especially as a result of some social – linguistic interactions and these problems are felt aside to the interested reasearchers, luckily Dr. Hitoca Achumi,Ph.D.residing Near Sumi Baptist Church,Puranabazar Dimapur has written an article under the heading “Nagamese as an aid” expressing the fact that Nagamese as a language has grown along with the Naga people. Whereas, another Reserach Scholar Kereivile Kire in his lingustic point of view,it is too pre-mature for Nagamese to reach that stage to be recognized as a language.”He appreciated Mr.V. Phushika Awomi, former President,NSF’ for his article published on 10th January, 2016 in support of NSF statement on January 20 (NP)
when news emanating from New Delhi that Prime Minister’s Office has reportedly initiated the idea to promote Nagamese as a common language. They expressed that “this is an attempt to deprive the Nagas of their identity” I am sure there would be many such writer against or support to take political mileage. However, as the author of Nagamese book entitled “ Nagamese – the lingua franca of Nagaland translated into English and Sumi” published in the year 2007 and revised edition in 2015, I would like to reply this way.
The book may not be upto the expectation regarding the language as it has no script; it is a mixture of ideas, written under compulsion as a missionary to the non Nagas.I have been much pressurized to give some write up for the targeted groups particularly those who married other tribes or outsiders ( non- Nagas) because inter-marriage has become common in Nagaland and for the sake of those fellow non-Naga Christians who have accepted Christ as their personal saviour and those Christians wanting to know the word of God as our new Christian friends whom we consider more important persons to communicate, we are facing many difficulties in prayer meetings, preaching the gospel, the word of God etc as they can not understand English or other Naga dialect. My Nagamese book is the outcome of our nature of work among the Hindu, Muslim, Sikhs and Buddist particularly in Burma (Myanmar) Naga region. Those children and parents whose encouragement and suggestions have made it possible to bring out Nagamese books. I have invited every reader to give their opinion or any correction or suggestion for improvement of Nagamese language and many preachers have responded after reading the book and most of them have requested me to write Nagamese Bible. Meantime, the All Burma Naga Baptist Churches Association has requested United Baptist Churches Association North East India and Christian Education Ministry Dimapur to translate New Testament for there is no single Bible in Burmese Naga language as they have received only 4 gospels ( Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ) which was translated by me in 2009 has reached Burma Naga region through some National workers.
The Government of Nagaland has adopted English as the State official language,but Nagamese has occupied the same State in Government administration unofficially – as a matter of fact majority of Naga people speak Nagamese which is broken Assamese mixed with English, Hindi, Bengali, Nepali, Urdu, Karbi, Kachari etc and is now becoming a common language in Nagaland. The Burma Naga people has also adopted Nagamese as their common language.The Naga Students have rightly opposed the promotion of Nagamese in Nagaland when the Central Government proposed to promote it as an official language, stating that the intentions of the Centre to promote a language which had no originality. Yes it is true, but to know about the origin of the Nagamese language it is essential to study the relation of the Naga people with the Assamese speaking population in the neighbouring areas.
The Naga people had a relation with Assamese and that relation continued since the reign of the Ahom Kings.In our history, systematic historical records of the Nagas were not available during pre- Ahom period except some stray references here and there.The Ahom Kingdom brought a far reaching relationship, with the Nagas which marked the turn from hostility to friendship. The first tribal people with whom the Ahom in Assam, came through the land of the Nagas in the beginning of the 13th century.
According to the Ahom Chronicles, Ahoms had to deal mostly with the Nagas since the establishment of their kingdom till the 17th century. The Nagas offended the Ahom kings from time to time and they also visited the Ahom kingdom. These Naga people lived in hilly region in between the rivers Dikhow and Burhidihing.The relationship of Ahom with the Nagas improved much towards the 17th century.During the reign of Suchinpha,some Khamingia Naga came and paid homage to the Ahom king at the Capital Gargaon and prayed for help to fight with their hostiles, viz. some Naga villages.
Thus, for the first time one of the restless Nagas tribe of the Patkai mountain,who were considered as the trouble makers towards the Ahom rulers for many times, visited the Ahom king at his capital and established friendly relations with him.
The Ahoms or Assamese relations inhabitants came into contact with the Nagas of the Doyang valley during the reign of Gadadhar Singha ( 1681- 1696 AD ) .These Naga population were undoubtedly the Lotha’s who lived by the side of Doyang river, which is very close to the plains. They showed their sentiments of loyalty to the Ahom King since their contact with Ahoms and respect for each other.
Besides, the custom of adoption of children of other caste and martial relation with the hill tribes were prevailing during the Ahom regime. Sometimes the adopted children were placed in a superior position. The Dupgaria Naga presented three boys to the Burha Raja.Their names were Ao, Apam and Lachit. There are several references of martial relationship between the Ahoms and the Nagas. Previously, the Dihingiya Raja was residing in the hills he had a friendly relationship with a Khungaw of Banpheria Nagas named Karengpa. His daughter Changkun had some familiarity with the King’s household. A son was born to Changkun, who later became to be known as Tyachengmung. Then the King asked his ministers “ The boy should find his place between you two Gohains, because he came of a Naga mother,” so be it, we accept him. There are many such instances of the martial relationship between the Assamese Princeses and the people. Likewise, many Naga men and women married to Nepalis, Bhutias, Bengalis, Kerelian, kanadian and even miya people and they speaks Nagamese to communicate at home. And no authority in heaven can stop this inter – marriage between Nagas and non – Nagas. ( to be continue )
The writer is Missionary to Non-Nagas, the author of Nagamese Grammar and translator of New Testament ( Notun Niom)
Rev. Dr. N. Khashito Aye 5th Mile, Dimapur.