The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lyrics go to China before music does
- Naga band Wave to perform at Kunming clubs and concerts this month
Members of Wave perform at a concert

Kohima, Aug. 10: The ice is thawing on the Sino-Indian border and the time seems to be just ripe for a Naga band to make waves in dragon country. But there is a catch; Communist China is careful about what its citizens hear and the seven-member band, Wave, has had to send the lyrics of its compositions well in advance for “clearance” by zealous government censors.

If all goes well, Wave, fronted by accomplished musician Theja Meru, will perform at Kunming in south China in a few weeks’ time. A couple of other artistes will be part of the troupe that has been invited to showcase their musical synergy in front of audiences at clubs and open-air concerts. An official cultural programme is slated for August 25 at the Expo Garden in Kunming.

Exposure-starved artistes in the state are hoping that Wave’s concerts in China will open the floodgates for them.

Wave’s repertoire includes indigenous Naga songs as well as original compositions in English. Meru is confident that the lyrics of his band’s songs will be “approved” by Chinese officials, known to be wary about political propaganda through art and culture.

“There is no politics involved (in our music). Our songs are about motivation and creating awareness about social issues,” said Meru. “Our troupe is a small one but we will do our best and give the audience the real flavour of Naga music and culture.”

Niky Kire, a government official, will lead the 10-member team.

Neilazou Angami, a folk artiste from Kohima village, will be part of the group. Apart from songs, the troupe will perform Zeliang and Angami dances, details of which have also been provided to Beijing in advance.

The band has prepared songs in the Angami dialect with the characteristic Naga flavour of the tati, a local string instrument.

The essence of the songs is obviously agrarian. The band members hope the metaphorical icing of culture on the revived economic ties between the two countries will enable Nagaland to travel to a land of opportunities.

The external affairs and art and culture ministries are understood to have been assisting the troupe in completing the pre-travel formalities.

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