1996-01-19 00:00:00

When Methaneilie Solo sings, he and his listeners forget his hunchback and focus on the need to form a better society.

Solo´s voice is now familiar in the blue mountains around Kohima, capital of Nagaland state in northeastern India, which are also the home of armed factional fighters and hundreds of drug and alcohol addicts.

Sitting on a chair, Solo fights social evils through concerts, singing his own compositions on human dignity, spiced with humor and his own experiences.

"With humor, it is easy to point out mistakes and create awareness among people of their failures," Solo smiles, a shade of sorrow on his eyelids.

As he spoke to UCA News, the 39-year-old Baptist stared at the lonely mountain ahead as if he heard a gunshot, a familiar sound since 1989, when two ethnic groups revived a war for supremacy killing hundreds every year since.

Holding onto the traditional wooden gate of the village, the father of four said he became popular among tribals after passing a lonely and hard period.

Solo had a disturbed youth. He became hunchbacked at 4 and could study only up to 4th class, but parents and friends, he said, encouraged him to sing.

"I was unwilling to accept the physical deformities, alone and uncertain of life ahead. Singing gave me new life," he told UCA News.

His first song, composed in 1973, reveals uncertainties about life and God´s greater plan for human beings. It also reverberates with human worth and the need for a life goal.

The song, which Solo dedicated to himself, is used by hundreds for meditation for right orientation and purposefulness in life.

His first album was recorded in 1984, 11 years after he started composing. So far he has sung 140 songs, 121 his own compositions.

His 12th volume of cassette released in 1993 includes, besides his own Angami dialect, translations from other tribal languages and Hindi.

All his 30 concerts so far in Nagaland were for humanitarian purposes. Solo said he wants to channel people´s energy and potential for social good.

"The biggest fulfillment comes when they listen silently to songs. It means they have received the message to love, forget and live in peace," Solo said.

Some of his songs like "Making Nagaland City" directly attack socio-political problems and aim at "purifying Nagas´ life" from corruption, alcohol, easy money and factional fighting.

Solo said his favorite song is "Wine," adding that many young men love wine more than their girlfriends. They hide it safely when it is banned and love it more when it is said to be bad, he said.

"As long as I can, I shall sing to encourage everyone to make use of their talents the right way," Solo declared.

His wife is also happy that he is able "to do good for the welfare of our people" through his talent. "I am sure that God will bless his works and the people so as to live in peace and harmony," she told UCA News.

She said many including her parents and relatives objected to their marriage but "my love for him is genuine and I never consider him handicapped."

"I am happy to be his wife. I always thought him to be a physically healthy person like any other man," she said.

Hundreds who throng to see him and listen to him admire his voice. Christian leaders say it would be good if he makes more Gospel-based songs. So far he has done only two volumes of such songs.


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