Kohima: Prominent Naga author Easterine Kire said cultural theft by non-Naga scholars over the past years has been dictating the Naga culture in the minds of the young people.

She was speaking at the first edition of the Nagaland Literature Festival which began here on Friday.

As part of the ongoing Hornbill Festival celebration, the literature festival was held for lovers of literature and writing, under the theme “Through the looking glass: Traversing the past, present and future”.

The festival began at the Regional Centre of Excellence for Music and Arts (RCEMPA), Jotsoma under Kohima district. The two-day lit fest is organised by Writers Collective in collaboration with the tourism department and Task Force for Music and Arts (TaFMA), graced by Manfred Auster, consul general of Germany, Kolkata.

“Our job now is to correct erroneous interpretations of our cultures and we do that by writing ourselves. Cultural theft has taken place over several years by non-Naga scholars where our intellectual property and cultural property was stolen. A consequence of theft is that the thieves dictate our cultures to our children because they claim to be the experts having stolen our property,” she told the gathering.

Kire goes on to say that the consequences can be resisted by local writers by writing, translating and putting back value into what was devalued. “And then we can bequeath our retrieved property to the future – to unborn Nagas,” she added. 

Kire urged the need to write from “Naga-centric lens” to chronicle and set right the misunderstood and misinterpreted past.

She added saying, “Writing ourselves is very important because it is a movement towards our psychological, intellectual and emotional sovereignty. As we write ourselves, we are interrogating, resisting and blasting stereotypical versions of our people and cultures that gave held sway as far back as our first contact with the western world.”

Consul General of Germany, Kolkata, Manfred Auster said that all the elements and aspects of the literature festival were inspiring, and can be a major contributor for people to learn about the past, present and future of the Nagas. 

The diplomat also recommended for a possible cultural exchanges between Germany and Nagaland in the future.

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