Halloween party ideas 2015

Lal Dena By Prof (Dr) Lal Dena, for Inpui.com

One fundamental factor which contributes towards the formation of nationality is ethnicity. Ethnicity is a sense of ethnic identity. Ethnicity and nationalism are the two terms which are closely interrelated. They can even be considered as the two sides of the same coin. Ethnicity is a benign manifestation of identity or politicized shared identity. Simultaneously, nationalism is an ethnic consciousness which aspires to national status and recognition. Therefore, a nationality is seen as a particular type of ethnic community or rather as an ethnic community politicized, with recognized group rights in the political system (Paul Brass, 1991).

E. J. Hobsbawm has noted that nationalism comes before nation (Hobsbawm, 1990). Sandra F. Joireman has contended that an ethnic group must be somehow politically mobilized before it becomes a nation and that political mobilization occurs in the form of some sort of collective objective of recognition (Joireman, 2007). To clarify just what ethnicity entails, let us first bring out its basic characteristics and apply them to the Kuki ethnic group. Every ethnic group has a common name or common nomenclature, a myth of common ancestry, shared historical memories (events and celebration, heroes or other common experiences), common culture, defined by language or religion or customs, link with a geographical homeland, and a sense of common cause or solidarity among the members of the ethnic group. The basic hypothesis of this paper is therefore that the Kuki, possessing all these basic ingredients of ethnicity, is in the active process of nationality formation.

1. Common Nomenclature: Even though the etymology and meaning of the term ‘Kuki’ is not known, British colonial administrators and ethnographers arbitrarily applied it to all the Non-Naga tribes in Manipur, Myanmar and Mizoram. As an ethno-cultural entity, the term covers all the Chins, Mizos and other cognate tribes and clans. The evolution of this composite nomenclature is an outcome of the colonial imposition of a common identity and a search for common ethnic identity on the part of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo people themselves (Gangmumei Kamei, 1995). However, in Myanmar and Mizoram, the term Kuki was gradually discarded. In Myanmar, it was being replaced by Chin and in Mizoram by Lushai. But in Manipur, Assam and Tripura, the term continued to be in popular use. From the beginning of the 20th century, the terms Kuki, Chin and Lushai appeared as settled nomenclatures in the administrative divisions of Mayanmar and India. J. Shakespeare and G.A. Grierson, however, pointed out that there was strong racial, linguistic and cultural affinity among these people. In spite of the movement for uniting these communities under a common nomenclature like Mizo or Zomi in the post-colonial period, the term Kuki still holds the ground and now the terms-Chin, Kuki, Mizo (CHIKIM) is in common use which shows the inseparability of the people.

2. Myth of Common Ancestry: Opinions differ on who was really the first ancestor of the Kukis. According to some genealogists, Zo (Chhuahzova), Zosanga and Mansing were the first known ancestors of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo. The Hmar oral tradition however maintains that Manmasi was the first known ancestor. Manmasi had three sons - Miachal, Nelachal and Niachal. Again, Nelachal had seven sons-Nelvan, Nelsun, Nelpuising, Nelsung, Nelkhup, Nelphiel and Nelkim. According to T. Khuma, Songthu (Chongthu), Songja (Chongja), Zahong and Lusei are the descendants of Nelkhup (T. Khuma Songate, 1998). Chawngkunga has a different opinion and in his Geneological Tree of Mizo has given a very elaborate geneology and the distribution of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo.

3. Shared Historical Memories: There is a popular tradition regarding the original home of the Kuki, Chin, Mizo. One belief is the emergence of the ancestors of the Kuki and Chin from the hole or bowel of the earth or cave which is called Khul. This is known to Hmar and Mizo as Sinlung (Chhinlung). The Hmar folklore clearly refers to Sinlung and Shan. Whatever may be the truth, this much is clear to us that the Kuki, Chin, Mizo ethnic group had originally migrated from China in different batches and groups and then came to Myanmar and settled in Chin Hills and Kabaw valley. The earlier migrants from Myanmar to different parts of North East India were called Old Kukis and the later migrants New Kukis. According to 1931 census and J. Shakespeare, Aimol, Anal, Chiru (Rhem), Chothe, Koren, Kom, Khawthlang and Khawsak (Hmar), Lamkang, Purum (Moyon), Ronte, Tikhup, Tarau and Vaiphei (N. Sanajaoba, 2003) were put in the list of Old Kuki, while Gangte, Paite, Ralte, Simte, Sukte and Thaduo were in the New Kuki group. Whether new or old, the Kuki group had common history of migratory movement right from China to India during the historical period. The manner in which they were divided in different states even within India and also distributed among the neighboring countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh and had made them experienced discriminatory treatment over generation wherever they live. The Kuki Rebellion of 1917-1919 is for some historians the First Kuki War of Independence (Kaikhatinthang Kipgen,). Their untold sufferings at the hands of colonial rulers during the First and the Second World Wars made them to long all the more for their lost freedom.

4. Common Cultural Heritage: Another notable feature of Kuki historical evolution is that they could evolve a common culture, linguistic and customary laws. They have common folk tales and common folk heroes like Benglam (Sura), Galngam), Chemtattepu so on and so forth. On the positive side, colonial rule provided stable administration to the Kukis thereby opening new vistas and hopes for them. With the introduction of modern education wherever the missionaries set their foot, a new elite group had merged within the Kuki society and these elite group and intelligentsia had began to play an important role in rediscovering their traditional values, their past histories, myths and legends, folklores and folk songs which reminded them that they were a ‘nation’ with an enviable past, a glorious history and common culture and common culture and common customary practices. There is no linguistic barrier among the Kuki group and they can communicate to one another with least effort in their respective dialects. In short, they have all the basic ingredients to enable them to evolve a powerful nationality group.

5. Common Cause of Solidarity for Homeland: In spite of their divisions, the Kukis in Myanmar and India are linked with a geographical homeland. All the hill districts of Manipur and even some parts of the adjoining countries Bangladesh and Myanmar are peopled by the Kuki ethnic group. With the independence of Myanmar in 1948, Chin Hills State had been created and in India, a Mizoram state was also formed on what was then called Mizo Hills District in 1985. A study of nationality formation whether Western or Non-Western model clearly shows that ethnic-based nation states were normally formed in the first place around a dominant community or core ethnic group. If the Sailo clan could provide such leadership by integrating the fragmented tribes in Mizoram and could evolve a united Mizo Hills Districts, the Kuki leadership can also be a rallying point for political mobilization in Manipur.

Concluding remarks: But a word of caution here. Let us correct our past mistakes. As a part of their response to the Indian nationalist movement, the Kuki elite group formed the Kuki National Assembly (KNA) in 1946 which had initially raised the usual threat of secession like the Nagas. In the sixties, the KNA changed its political objective and raised the demand for a Kuki state within the framework of the existing Indian political structure. The KNA leadership under S. L. Luneh adopted a policy of Kukiaization and what followed in 1960 between Hmar and Thado, everybody knows. Again there was misunderstanding between the Kuki leadership and the Zomi leadership during 1997-98. We ourselves are the sufferers. As it has been indicated above, ethnically, culturally and linguistically, the Kuki-Chin-Mizo are one and the same people, having common ancestry, common history and common customary practices. We stay together and unite we must. We intermarry. No divisive forces, external or internal, should divide us. “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall”.

Live and let live in Zalen-Gam.

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  1. ....gives one quite a great deal of insight into one of the most vexing issues of our time.
    if there is one thing we are in need of so as to further cement our ties closer and stronger to form a nationality out of these numerous ethnics gruops, it is a 'common language'.

  2. Yes, language is one of the cement factors in the transformation of an ethnic group into a nationality....!!!! Let us take the case of the Nagas, who are now in the process nationality formation... for them, Nagamish & English have been used as a sort of lingua-franca. For the Kukis, Chin, Mizos.... Mizo language & English can play a positive role for bringing about the unity among the people……!!! This certainly need further probing...!!!


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