“Peace is always in the making. It is not an event. There is no success in peacemaking. It is always in the making”
Neidonou Angami, a women’s activist from Kohima, Nagaland, said this iconic line while giving one of many speeches resulting out of her unprecedented efforts. Her story is an inspiration to thousands of Naga and other tribal women, and her projects are the way to it.
How normalized it has become to say that like most of the girls, Angami started schooling late due to financial burden. She lost her father, who was a government official killed by the Naga insurgents, at the age of six and was brought up by her mother. Although faced with all these difficulties, she completed her education and started her career with the police force as a sub-inspector and later as a teacher.
Perhaps the teacher in her empathized with the problems of the local people and in 1972 she became active in social work by founding the Nagaland Weavers’ Association. This was followed by the Naga Mothers’ Association (1984) to work against the social problems of drug addiction and alcoholism. The NMA paved the way for Angami to further diversify her initiative through satellite organization like NMA Youth and Women Welfare Organization (1986), Mt Gilead Home (1989), a shelter home and rehabilitation center for drug addicts and alcoholics, and the NMA HIV/AIDS Care Hospice (2001), a subsidiary project for the shelter home for recycling paper. She is also known to have launched a social movement, Shed No More Blood, a campaign which provided the insurgents an opportunity to interact with the mainstream politics. Seeking assistance of other social and tribal organizations such as Naga HoHo, Naga Students Federation, and Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights, NMA was successful in brokering a ceasefire between the insurgents and the government. The organization also assisted in giving a proper burial for the casualties of the fight. She has also represented NMA in many peace talks held at Thailand, New Delhi and Nagaland. Honoring its efforts, the organization was awarded the Times of India Social Impact Award in 2013.
The beauty of her story lies in how a small effort to organize the weavers of the local areas led to a widespread social movement across Nagaland. Her organization(s) covering local craftsmen, drug addicts, students, and insurgents with active efforts for their rehabilitation, peace keeping, human rights activism and greater representation in politics are simply just measures to bring different identities to a level playing field; the exact idea behind intersectionalism.
The unheard atrocities and the social conditions that the women from such tribes go through are reflected through vigorous efforts of people like Neidonou Angami. It is dazzling how this tribal woman transformed her ‘by birth’ identity to something that has become an inspiration; a social activist, a peacekeeper, a nominee of Nobel Peace Prize and a mother of three, she never failed.