The story of E.W. Clark’s arrival at Molungkimong village in 1872 and the subsequent foundation of the first Naga Church are fairly documented in literature. Reading about it is informative, yet, seeing the village first-hand, talking personally to the villagers, and being able to view actual relics associated with Rev. Clark and other pioneer missionaries is altogether a different experience. On 29th July 2017, the History Department travelled to Molungkimong village for this first-hand experience - Nentile Kath tells us more about it.
My Trip to Molungkimong village
“Travelling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Ibn Battuta
Travelling has always been a passion for me but it has always felt like a distant dream due to typical problems like not having enough time or money. But recently I had an opportunity to visit a village in Mokokchung district, Nagaland and I realised that travelling need not always be to those extravagant faraway places. As long as you have an open mind and if you learn something from going to a new place which we had never been, it counts as travelling.
On a recent trip organised by the History Department, we got to travel to Molungkimong Village, Nagaland, the first village to accept Christianity in Nagaland on 22nd December 1872, through an American missionary Rev. Edwin Winter Clark. The trip made me realise how ignorant I had been about the history of my own land. I consider myself lucky for getting to know one of the most important events in the History of Nagaland, which brought about a lightening change in Naga society.
The sole purpose of the trip was to learn about how Christianity came into being in the Naga Hills, based on our academic syllabus. Apart from the purpose we also got the opportunity to learn about the sacrifices that the missionaries made, the stories, the valour of the unsung heroes and the root history of this important village.
The journey to our destination was not the most comfortable one, all thanks to the dreadful unforgiving roads of Nagaland and the constant rain as its accomplice. The trip via the Assam road, however, proved a luxury for some few hours before hitting back to the not-so-merciful Nagaland roads again. If I were a tourist here, I might have already fled from the first feet of this nightmare, but alas I am still a daughter of this land.
With my prejudice, initially, I thought this village would be a typical one, which we town folks often tend to look down on. But how wrong was I! It proved to be completely contrary to my narrow presumption.
Jaded and tired from the nearly 7-8 hours journey I was ready to call it a day, but just as we reached the village I was enchanted by its beauty and the serene environment. The scenery, the mountain air and the amazing weather felt as though nature itself was welcoming us, and the smiles of the people made us feel at home instantly.
The villagers were very warm and hospitable making our sojourn very comfortable and satisfying. The most amazing thing I noticed, which set this village apart from Dimapur was their sense of cleanliness and discipline. It was a typical Naga village with a touch of elegance, which I couldn’t help but admire.
The village pastor and his colleagues were kind enough to handle all the responsibility of not only sharing the rich history of Molungkimong village and giving us a tour of the village, but also provided us the guest house, delicious meals throughout our stay, and every luxury to make our trip a pleasant one. Furthermore, they arranged a group of learned men from the village to help us gather the information that we came for. The church too welcomed us at the Saturday and Sunday devotional service, to share and sing for the congregation. The experience not only enlightened us spiritually, but also helped our department come closer as a family.
Our group went around the village and admired everything in it, however we also learnt that it was not always like this. Prior to the coming of Christianity, the villagers were mostly pagans and the village was often visited by epidemics, famines, crop failures and other natural calamities. The over burdening troubles made them seek alternatives, and it appeared in the guise of Christianity through the American Missionaries. With their coming, knowledge and health care followed which swiftly transformed their living styles and their narrow superstitious outlooks were done away with. The barbaric practice of head-hunting came to an end. Today, when we look at the village we find that it is now one of the forerunners of education and the harbingers of Christianity in Nagaland.
This incredible experience in this little haven has opened up my eyes and attitude towards the value of every Naga village and tribe. It has broadened my outlook towards our History and the rich legacy that every village holds. The very warm and hospitable people of this village portrayed the true value and characteristics of how a true Christian should be. Their love and kindness towards us has made me become emotionally attached to the village, making me wish to pay another visit to this lovely place.
We always think that the grass is greener on the other side but it may or may not always be so. It is high time we start appreciating what we are blessed with, instead of complaining about what we lack. This trip will remain to me, one of the best memorable trips and experiences of my life.
Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Nungchim Christopher, Seyiesilie Vupru and Kvulo Lorin. Portrait photographer: Rhilo Mero. For feedback or comments please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.