KOHIMA:

PORTRAIT OF A CITY

 

Kohima is Nagaland's capital city. Common to many Naga settlements, it is nestled along the high ridges of the mountain side. At an elevation of nearly 5000ft,it is reacheable only by road or  helicopter. Its original name is of the native Angami Nagas tribal group, and is pronounced as 'Kewhima', which was changed  due to Britishers struggle to pronouce the local language. 

 

It is understood that previous to the British invasion there was no such thing as a commmon Naga indentity. The state capital it is now home to many different Naga tribal factions still proudly wearing their original patterns and colours, while still considered a hub to what is left of the Naga nationalist movements which in conjunction with the Indian Army and the colonial forces, plagued the state with violence since before Indian independence. Only recently opened to the outside world a military curfew is still observed, meaning life stops at 7pm and the city falls into almost perfect stillness. Though technically a dry state, underground bars are common place and genrally ignored, but without any other forms of nightlife available, Kohima lives primarily during the day.

 

 Its  population is around 80 000  and there is strong majority of Christian denominations at play.Meanwhile the youth have have embraced a steady influx of Korean pop culture as their own, Metal music has become the music of choice, and as the urban pull  creates a general disconnection from tribal traditions and beliefs, a perfect financial 'honey trap' has been layed by the Indian goverment, slowly diluting the once strong nationalistic ideals and movements held by the Naga community.It is indeed debatable whether Kohima's future will be even be Naga or Indian at all.One thing for sure is that as the state capital in close proximity to central Asian borders, the Indian government shows no signs  of letting go.

 

As empty new-builds continue to mushroom and the village youth continue to desert the rural areas, exposure to the outside world begins grow and government money continues to flow into every day institutions and infrastructure, it is possible that this isolated place may become the blueprint in the evolution of a socalled 'Naga indentity', and indeed an example of how tribal cultures are choosing to change the world over.