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E-Pao! Essays - Head Hunting

Head Hunting

By: L. Keivom IFS(Rtd) *



Below is an English translation of extracts of L. Keivom’s article of June 4, 2004 entitled HEADHUNTING in Hmar which appeared in DELHI THURAWN together with a comment of Dr.Lal Dena and mailed to HYG members with their prior permission:

Since we have already devoted a great deal of time on the topic ‘Headhunter’ in our forum Hmar@yahoogroups.com I wonder if it will be wise to close the topic now as I am sure Satan, the owner of the headhunting institution would already be pleased enough with our deliberations.

In one way or the other we mankind are all head hunters. Even at the global level, irrespective of the presence of the UNO and the level of civilization we have claimed to attain, the bigger sharks still go out hunting the weaker ones. ‘Might is Right’ remains the rule of the game. We shoot out civilized words from our lips but we also shoot barbarously from our hips. Like the Texan cowboys did in the western movies when they went out headhunting.

If there are people amongst us who still love to claim the notorious title of a headhunter for a price, what can we do? The only thing we can do is to pray for the headhunters provided we still have believers in God who ought to supplicate on their behalf. When can we learn to read the writings on the wall penned in bold letters and try to reform our lives.

There were indeed primitive tribes who practiced some form of headhunting at certain stages of their march into civilization. If we examine what prompted them to become headhunters, the underlying cause was always religion: to propitiate gods and spirits and to gain respectable position in the next world after death. Anyone who does not subscribe to this assertion may read Sir James George Frazer’s The Golden Bough (12 Volumes) and Weston La Barre’s The Ghost Dance.

The first head hunter we came across in the Bible was Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve. He successfully hunted his brother’s head. Thus we see that head hunting began with the two brothers and the underlying cause was religion: God was pleased with Abel’s sacrifices but not with Cain’s. The relations between ICI and EFCI is no better than that of Cains’ and Abel’s. We headhunt each other with equal intensity of hate in the name of religion. We continue the madness with unabated zeal because it benefits some. We thrive on lies and distortions. We measure success by the number of heads we claim but not souls we destroy because they do not matter. All these in the name of religion.

Mizo tribes were never headhunters, and especially so the Hmars. There were internecine wars and even fratricidal clashes during which they killed each other and claimed heads just as any war in history was fought and won. The Old Testament period is full of such accounts. But that did not make the warring tribes of Israelites headhunters. George Bush will not be pleased if you call him a headhunter for his crusade against the head of Osama bin Laden. If the Hmars were headhunters, every imaginable nation on earth would also be headhunters.

Ironically, if we really wanted to call ourselves headhunters, we can trace our history to the 1968 church split and the Hmar Peoples’ Convention (HPC)’s armed political struggle in 1986. The 1968 church split unleashed an era of religious headhunting till this day. The 1986 political movement initiated the reign of terror when we began to hunt the heads of our own people. How many of our people fell victim to it? Having no enemy at all, we made enemies of ourselves and became headhunters. But religious headhunting claims much more lives though in a different way. Its first victim was our national unity. The hands of Cain has been at work since and the blood of our own has been polluting our churches and homes. Yes, indeed, we are headhunters, vampires of our own creation, feeding on the blood of our own people. And the church is leading the way. Let them who have ears understand the above messages!

Comments by Prof Lal Dena, Dept of history, Manipur University.

It would be a good example to compare the Hmars and the Tiong (Malaysian). I attended International Workshop at Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Malaysia from 30 November to 11 December. 2001. One place we visited looked strange to me; they have a kind of Museum in which they placed many human skulls. This Museum-like marquee is the place where they stored the skulls of those whom they killed they fought against one another which resemble to our Hmar clan’s battle. However, this Tiong (Malaysian) never considered themselves as Head Hunters. Even if they called themselves Head Hunters, we the international historian delegates from different parts of the world would not accept such notion. When we critically examine our Hmar History, it is believed that there were some who with no good reason hunted others’ head. Nevertheless, just for these mere incidents, to call ourselves as Head-Hunters is something that a historian cannot at all subscribe or accept.




Laldena Intoate Hmar send this article written by : L. Keivom IFS(Rtd), who writes regularly to e-pao.net
He can be contacted at laldenas@rediffmail.com
This article was webcasted on Jan 21, 2005

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