The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : Return to the Naked Nagas (1939;1976)

caption: Chapter Six. Death in the Rain
caption: contempt for brutal parents; failure of western education
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: Parents generally speak to their children in the same quiet and friendly tone they would use to any grown-up -- a grumbling father, shouting at and terrorizing his children, would rouse public disapproval at once and lose much of his social prestige. And if it happens that the boys do not want to do exactly as their father wishes, the father only laughs and says: "What shall I do with them? Children are like that, after all !"
text: That is what happened when Mills sent a Tamlu man to Wakching to teach the boys reading and writing. At first the gaonbura and the older men were most enthusiastic over the plan. It was explained that, with a knowledge of these new arts, they would not be so easily cheated by the traders of the plains. A house was built, the schoolmaster installed, and the pupils assembled for the teaching to begin. At first the boys thought scribbling on their little blackboards fun, and far more amusing than the tedious work on the fields. But soon the scribbling lost its charm, and they found it still more amusing to play truant, running about in the forest and (65) shooting birds while their parents thought them in "school." The despairing schoolmaster asked my help and complained that he could not hold school without any pupils. This was understandable, and I promised him to do what I could. I talked to the parents of the run-aways. They promised that they would send their sons to school. And so they did, but the boys did not come. Once more I tried to assist the poor schoolmaster, and once more I talked seriously to the fathers, lauding the advantages of learning in the most glowing terms.
text: "Well, we have told the boys they should go to school," was the answer, "but if they don't go, what can we do?"