Along Longkumer | Consulting Editor
Recently, the Zomi people from across 35 countries came together for the 3rd World Zomi Convention held from October 25-27 at Lamka in Manipur’s Churachandpur district. As per news report carried in the Morung Express, the Zo people, or Zomi, are no stranger to post colonial divisions and remain scattered till today, inhabiting parts of present Bangladesh, India and Burma. L. B. Sona, Chairman of the Zomi Council (comprising nine tribes), addressed the gathering on why the Convention is essential to bring together “thousands of Zomi scattered across the globe, professing Christian faith, yet preserve their true national identity.” The conviction of the Zomi people to come and reason together through a common platform like the ‘World Zomi Convention’ is indeed inspirational. It is not the magnitude of the convention that was important but the spirit of common accord that was displayed by the Zomi people. Set on a modest budget, the 3rd World Zomi Convention was supplemented with a two-day extensive seminar/workshop on ‘Issues, Challenges and Opportunities of the Zomi’ as well as Worship Programs every evening in selected churches, conducted by church leaders from the Zomi region. Both the spiritual and the temporal had their place of honor as summed up by a Zomi Council leader: “It is also pertinent that they seek the Lord, and ‘Be a Blessed nation’ so that they become a blessing for other communities in their respective place of stay”. Striving for building a stronger nation, peaceful co-existence with neighbouring communities, inclusiveness and letting go of the bitter past were some of the things that the Zomi people talked about. The convention also sought to underline a very vital point that “no outsider will give us peace and progress”. Indeed solution/s will have to come from within.
Without doubt, such kind of convention that promotes oneness and brotherhood as demonstrated by the Zomi people is the need of the hour for other peoples including the Nagas. Although the Zomis are also scattered in three different countries and divided by boundaries and geography, yet they have been able to better understand the value of peace and unity amongst themselves. This is not the case with the Nagas at present as can be seen from different layers of division and conflict within the Naga family. The idea of coming together as one people through such a convention as done by the Zomis is food for thought for the Naga people. The first World Zomi Convention was held in 1988. Thereafter such reunions are taking place from time to time. Such an exercise helps reinvigorate a sense of oneness besides helping to renew ties and rekindling the hope for a shared future. It is also an opportunity to embark upon dialogue and consultation on various agenda facing the people. Right now, it appears to be that the Zomis are not so much focusing on amalgamation of their native lands but rather their effort is towards emotional integration of their people. Can the multitude of so called people’s groups and organizations that are in existence today work for the emotional integration of the Nagas? Sadly the more time passes; greater is the division among the Nagas. What is the use of Naga sovereignty, integration or our historical and political rights if we as a people cannot live in peace and unity? Can Nagas also rise up to the occasion and come together on a common platform like how the Zomis have done so through their people’s convention?