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'Reclaiming Zeliangrong Movement and Jadonang's Legacy'
RSA 2nd Talk Report : 25 September 2021, Delhi University

Rongmei Scholars’ Association (RSA) *



A BRIEF REPORT OF THE RONGMEI SCHOLARS’ ASSOCIATION (RSA) 2nd TALK
“Reclaiming Zeliangrong Movement and Jadonang’s Legacy: A Reading of Archival Diaries of JC Higgins”
by Dr. Richard Kamei,
Lecturer in Anthropology,
Royal Thimphu College, Bhutan.
Date: 25/09/2021
Time: 6pm to 7:22pm

The Vice President of the Rongmei Scholars’ Association (RSA), Dr. Senganglu Thaimei, Associate Professor of English at Miranda House, Delhi University, welcomed all the participants and gave a short history of the Rongmei Scholars’ Association, what it stands for, its aims and objectives and opened the 2nd talk of the Rongmei Scholars’ Association.

The Chairman of the talk, Dr. Joseph Riamei took over and introduced the topic “Reclaiming Zeliangrong Movement and Jadonang’s Legacy: A Reading of Archival Diaries of JC Higgins” and gave a quick overview of the history of Haipou Jadonang, who led the Zeliangrong Movement which is seen as a point of reference in the struggle against foreign invaders by the Zeliangrong people. He then welcomed the speaker of the talk, Dr. Richard Kamei, lecturer of Social Sciences in Royal Thimphu College, Bhutan.

Dr. Richard Kamei began by mentioning that the talk would be based on the tour Diaries of JC Higgins, the colonial Political Agent of Manipur. The speaker pointed out that the coming of the colonial rule disrupted the flow of oral knowledge from one generation to another and therefore it has become necessary to rely on archival sources to recover, repair and reclaim our knowledge system.

Having said that, he cautioned that one must keep in mind the nature of the archival records as it was written from the colonial perspective. He also stated that though archives preserved knowledge from the past that might not be available to the common people, it tells a particular event unlike conventional historical narratives. Here, it is important to bear in mind that event(s) never happen in isolation as they often interact with each other.

He then delved into the topic and gave and insightful presentation on the Zeliangrong Movement and the legacy left behind by Haipou Jadonang. He stated that Jadonang started the Zeliangrong Movement and proclaimed “Makaam Guangdi” which may be loosely translated as “Zeliangrong Kingdom” and collected tribute in the form of Mithun from the Zeliangrong inhabited villages and even from the Naga Hills.

This was seen as a threat to the British rulers of Manipur who were not in a position to risk another rebellion like that of the Anti-Labour Kuki Rebellion of 1917-1919. As the movement gained momentum, four Meiteis were murdered at Kambiron and the British found a perfect excuse to frame him as the murderer. It was such that when the British began their search for Jadonang, the Kukis also feared the Zeliangrong Movement because they had beheaded many Zeliangrong people during the Anti-Labour Kuki Rebellion of 1917-1919 become informants for the British.

Higgins and Duncan toured the Zeliangrong villages and enquired about Jadonang’s whereabouts. They collected a two mithuns from Khoupum and Nangadang as well as Rs. 120, which in today’s money would amount to about Rs. 30,000 for paying tribute to Jadonang from the two villages. However, Kambiron village, the birthplace of Jadonang was made to pay a fine of Rs. 340 (Rs. 10 from each house) and were made to become free labourers for the British for a period of one month.

The search for Jadonang continued and the British were finally successful in arresting him on 19th February, 1931. Haipou Jadonang was eventually hanged on 29th August, 1931 but his movement was carried forward by Rani Gaidinliu even after his death and his legacy still lives even to this day. To the British Empire and to the Zeliangrong people the Zeliangrong Movement under the leadership of Haipou Jadonang was and is the Naga Raj Movement which cannot be deleted from history.

As the talk concluded, the Chairman opened the Question and Answer hour. As many as eight participants raised questions and observations. It may be pointed out that the Question and Answer hour was as enlightening as the talk itself.

The speaker opined that Haipou Jadonang had drawn the political roadmap for the Zeliangrong people and paved the way to carry forward their struggle for freedom from the control of the foreign invaders. He also pointed out that unity among the people is the only way to carry forward the legacy left behind by Haipou Jadonang.

After the Question and Answer hour, the Vice President of the Rongmei Scholars’ Association, Dr. Senganglu Thaimei, led the participants pay respect to Fr. (Dr.) RK Guangdiat Nicholas, a member of Rongmei Scholars’ Association who passed away on the night of 22nd September, 2021 by observing a minute of silence.

She then read out the condolence letter from RSA written to family of the departed soul. This was followed by the vote of thanks from John Gangmei, Assistant Professor of Social Work in Rajiv Gandhi University, Doimukh, who also closed the talk.


* Rongmei Scholars’ Association (RSA) sent this report to e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at rongmeischolars(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on September 27 2021.



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