Monday, March 10, 2008

Prism of the Zo people

Book review:
Prism of the ZO people, 2008.Pages398, Rs.250.00(INR)

It is a book compiled by the Publication Board of the 60th Zomi Nam Ni Celebration Committee to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee Zomi Nam Ni, 2008 AD. A modest attempt intended to be a reference material about the ZO people, their history, land, culture, economy and traditions as a Nation. Most of the papers are research based write-up by ZO researcher and scholars.
The search for identity, unification and nationhood of the ZO was discussed by K Guite in his ‘Tell tales of the Zomi’. On the contrary Rev S Prim Vaiphei discussed at length the affinities among the ZO in linguistic. Another proof of ZO affinity, says T.Gougin, in his the origin of Zomi, is the way they governed from time immemorial wherein the village Chief; their leader where this post is based on virility and heredity. Rev Mangpi Manlun also mentioned that there are many common characteristic features among the various groups of ZO people like belief in common origin and linguistic affinity. Dr Vumson Suantak said that Zomi are Indo-Tibetan people group.
Prof F K Lehman says that ZO, Lai or Chin itself is an ambiguous word. It signifies an element of self depreciation. As to ZO, there is also a lot of half informed foolishness in the literature about this name, invented and perpetuated. ZO, Lai or Chin is a potential name for nationality. Even the traditional belief of the progenitor is MANMASI but the books written by our early scholar mentioned that our progenitor is ZO.
S. Thangkhangin while defending the name Zomi, he mentioned that it was used even before the word Mizo. Our generics name is Zomi, Dr Mangkhosat Kipgen added. Kipgen further claimed that the word ZO does not just stand for highlander and its God’s will that we unite. But words like Kuki, Chin and Lushai were never recognised by the people said T Gougin.
Dr H Kamkhenthang in his article, Groping for identity, mentioned that there is a good ground to assume that the descendant of ZO will be ZO. He also said that to bear a name for a group identity is a matter of acceptance.
Dr Rosiam Pudaite dwelt on the colonial administration of the NE Indian.
Rev Khup Za Go discussed on the sojourn of the ZO in different directions. He argue that it scattered them and even led to different translation of the Bible and further let them treat themselves as being different or even enemies.
The importance of Literature in Nation building was adequately dwelt on by Dr David Vumlallian Zou. He explained how a literature was built up. While mentioning that internet (& blogs) helps in wider circulation of existing ideas he pointed out that it does not contribute any new knowledge as it (blogs) lacks quality and trust.
Dr L Lamkhanpiang argue that ethnicity amongst the ZO hamper its unification. He argues that tribe recognition affected the ZO people of Manipur. The recognition of various tribes and the political demarcation act as a Babel Tower for the ZO, he said. Prof Lal Dena while mentioning about marginalization and its affect on the ZO he pointed out that marginalization among ZO led to arm revolution (MNF) in Mizoram.
Pastor Mangthianlal while discussing about ZO customary law dwelt on criminal cases among ZO. Customary law of ZO, he claimed, is not giving justice to those who are wounded or hurt (psychological included) when it let the perpetrators of crime go scot free.
L Keivom, IFS (Rtd) put forth that Christianity has become the most important bonding force of the ZO people. The first step in achieving integration is the creation of an atmosphere congenial to the growth of emotional integration and sense of oneness within the community. ZO people and their culture, writer Singkhawkhai. Not only this part of the writings is readable but the whole of his book is a must read to have a better understanding of the ZO.
How blessed a nation can be and the lessons for ZO people is dwelt on by Dr (Rev) J M Paupu. The lessons are on building on: the Almighty God, nation, strong family, education and peace.
Thangzamuan Hauzel in his ‘ZO Economy: The quest for survival’ said, that the confident ZO is ready to take advantage and benefit from the economic liberalisation and globalisation of the market. He also harps on the idea that we need to look beyond the comfort Zone of constitutional protection, reservation and quota system.
T.Vunglallian in his ‘Random thoughts for socio-economic development’ even talked about the carbon credit, the latest talk of the world while mentioning the activities that can be attended for socio-eco-envi-upliftment.
Prof C Thang Za Tuan mentioned that ZO people were united within a sub-tribe. That was only in times of tribal war in the past, fighting among themselves and or one sub-tribe and another. The first such unification movement among the Zomis can be traced back during the British colonial days. It was started by the Chin National Union founded by U Thang Pet Maung of Mindat and his followers. They prepared a memorandum in 1933 demanding self-rule and independence as soon as India and Burma achieve independence. The leaders were arrested which stall the movement. They then gathered together in Falam to determine the future rule of Zoland and its people. That day of the resolution has since been celebrated as Zomi Nam Ni (February 20). After that under the leadership of T Goukhenpau in Manipur submitted a memorandum for the re-unification of the ZO people to the late Prime Minister of India in 1960. He even proposed a solution and recommendations for the unity of the ZO people. To develop a positive thinking and attitude about our nation and its unity at the same time to look up to God.
As regards to name ‘Zomi’ is found to be fitting. But as far as I know Zomi in Kuki dialect means monster which is called ‘Ngalkhohang’ in Chin dialect. I don’t know since when and why they used. It did not find mention in any research work so far. While talking about our customary it is to be mentioned here that our tribal (Christian) marriage has no legal standing and is not enforceable in the court of law; it only has a moral value. Most of the couples who have gone to foreign land had undergone court marriage, again. Recent orders of the Manipur government also points out the loopholes of marriage among the ZO. L Keivom had also wrote about the voidness of the marriage pronounce by our so called pastor.


Chingthanmawi said...

hi. where are you ? lehkhabu a na article kana sim kha a... hoih kasa lua. na email id hn hilh

Anonymous said...

hih laibu hoih sa lua ing, source cited complete (Publisher, place, year, author) hehpih natawh nong pia thei tam cih hong thuum ingh. ka email

S P Singh said...


I'm interested to read your book, as I've stayed in the Northeast for six years and I'm fascinated to learn about the history of Zo people. May I request you send me the publisher of your book. I want to buy it.