The sudden and untimely demise of Kaka D. Iralu amidst the unending Naga Peace Talk has left a void in the Naga discourse and it’s one big family spanning across the states of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Myanmar. A towering figure who spoke truth to power and questioned the state and institutional power to reflect on its excesses on the Naga people. He is the author of “The Naga Saga”, “Nagaland and India: The Blood and the Tears: A Historical Account of the Fifty-Two year Indo Naga War and the Story of Those who were never allowed to tell it”, and “Uncovering the Political Lies that Have Covered Indo-Naga History from the 1940s to the Present”, and numerous writings on Naga Nationalism and social issues faced by the Naga society. His decision to self-publish his books remains an act of resistance and in academia it precisely animates the decolonial methodology. His selfless contribution towards documenting the histories, narrative and experiences of the Naga peoples despite numerous constraints have shaped understandings beyond academia. His activism and participation in public fora speak volumes about his patriotism towards the Naga nation. It is in his engagement in academia and with masses that a sense of affinity and acknowledgement of Naga history, struggle and identity has been kept alive.
Iralu, himself a native of Khonoma- a village considered as the birthplace of Naga Nationalism, had witnessed the events and turmoil surrounding Naga Nationalism and from oral history. He is also a distant relative of Angami Z. Phizo who is touted as the father of Naga Nationalism. With this background, he rendered a rich account on Naga history and nationalism. In his book, the Naga Saga he wrote that the Nagas have been living under an independent nation of their own as old as the first record of Naga in AD 150. This is to assert that the Naga nation existed long before the British colonial rule came to the Naga Hills. The ongoing Naga struggle is a continuity of this history to reclaim what rightfully belongs to them. On colonial period, and post colonial period, he wrote in the Naga Saga to make sense of external force in the path of Naga lifeworld as thus, “ …the national identity of a people and its geographical identity is inseparable, and because their culture and their whole way of life is rooted in the soil of their motherland, an invasion of a country is not just a geographical invasion of a country but an invasion of the total historical, political, racial and cultural identity of a nation” (The Naga Saga, 2009, p.12).
We join the rest of Naga people in mourning the departure of Kaka D. Iralu. We thank him with deep gratitude for dedicating his life in capturing the history of the Naga Movement, trauma and scars inflicted on Naga people and their struggle through his writings and activism. In recent interactions with few scholars from TISS, Mumbai he expressed his wish for the present generation to take forward this truth. As budding scholars, we shall continue speaking, writing and reclaiming our reality and history. We hope more individuals join in animating his legacy.
‘The immutable fact is one where I was born a Naga and I will die a Naga. Nothing can ever change that’ (The Naga Saga, 2009, p.24).
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
April 10, 2020
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