TODAY -

Reliable historian is yet to be born for Chin+Kuki+Zo people

Dr Joseph Suantak *

Chin-Kuki-Mizos KUT Festival at Sadar Hills, Senapati
Chin-Kuki-Mizos "KUT" Festival at Sadar Hills, Senapati , 2010



"'Am a Senior Lecturer, Head of Dept., Varsity Prof., Researcher, Scholar in the dept. of History/Pol.Sc./Anthro./Geog./Socio./Linguist; and, 'am a historian!" Then, what remarkable feat have you [we] done [left] for our people?

The answer is very simple - anti-catholic communalism, regionalism, marginalisation, ethno-political chaos, sectarianism/ clannishness, childlike nepotism, destructive egotism, unnecessary conservativeness, confusing and terrible interpretation the Bible and obsolete cultural terms, lingua fanatism, self-relegation, &c.

And what is more, we were cluster of clans from one gene that should have evolved from that gone "tribe life" to a "nation" or "-ans/-ese/-ish"; but now 'hushed up?' to reverse back to a "Scheduled tribal/backward minorities"!

From my own anthro-socio-cultural and historical point of view, such term 'tribe(s)/tribal' is archaic; only suitable for our Palaeolithic/Acheulian ancestors. Yet, I am setting this piece hoping if it could be useful to impregnate us so that a "judicious & matured"-HISTORIAN is born to us too. Of course, I've learnt and find out during my research days that there are already uncountable historical publications, theses, monographs and oral versions of ours, which are altogether at sixes and sevens and still bristled with 'fertile imaginations' and 'romantic informations'.

Phew! Intrinsically from natural, scholastic disciplines, and scientific planes, to me, 'a historian' is yet to be born among our people "ChiKimZo!" [Chin+Kuki+Zo: just in alphabetical order]. Yes, I could see that CKZ history writers and research scholars were, and are still hoodwinked by some of the 'accidental' European Ethnographers, erstwhile White colonial official dubious records, Neo-Colonialists' enigmatic documents [India, Myanmar & Bangladesh], imaginative theories of Anthropologists and Linguists of all time who are many thousand miles away at the other shore of the Ocean.

What are more, the Old Testament world[Israelites?], the Chinese dynastic chronologies, Tibetan & Burmese cultural histories; and one more: the crafty historical literatures of the now dominant valley peoples who came on the dried up -in about ?4,000 BCE?- lake-like lowlands only in about ~2,500-1500 BCE.

Without being too wordy, let me straightaway leap to say that, 'History' or 'Historical records' are mostly all about the glorious days of great empires, kingdoms, princedoms, chiefdoms, warriors, major/stronger clans and peoples, and thus, they were even compelled to invent scripts so as to tell their civilizations to the rest of the world.

Yes, it is always, perhaps, the work of dominant people or states. Therefore, one should equip himself with extra precautionary reasonings when borrowing such data to juxtapose with the CKZ's. Right, all that glitters have been not gold and diamonds.

Actually, I blame none, but the outcomes. For instance, we are already doctrinated to disbelieve the legendary 'Out of Hurpi/Khur/Khol/Khul/Sinlung-Chhinlung' (pit/cave) tradition; even myself [see for details in Joseph Suantak, 2010]. Today, I am a born again, based on my findings [data garnered] and speculations to believe my honest and dignified ancestors. Here, the gist is, if it were to be 'disbelieved' CKZ ancestors might have not keep on passing it down from generations to generations.

May be we have forgotten our ancient bon mot that says: "Meima lo tho'in a bawk ngai puai", in Vaiphei parlance, which mean "No blister, no flies". Therefore, I would like to say, with poise: "Yes, they once lived in a huge cave/pit/grotto/or karst which might have been somewhere, at least, within ?92o to 97o (Longitude) E and ?20o to 27o(Latitude) N, far lesser than Taranatha's "Koki [Kuki] country" and, Willem van Schendel (2002) & James C. Scott(2009)'s "Zomia"; of what we smartly have chosen to call it Global village".

They would have not needed a giant cave like that of "Son Doong", the largest-biggest cave in the world, discovered in 2009 in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam, about 8kms in length to 200-250m high where a skyscraper could fit; the end is out of sight; and, which the exploration team leader [in 2010] Dr Howard Limbert precariously said of it - 'the two forests inside the cave enchanted the veteran explorers but is unsuitable for tourism, because it is too deep and its river flows too fast for the safety of unskilled visitors.'

To accommodate only about a hundred people comprising of infants to the evenings; the proto-ancestors of CKZs must have needed a cave just few metres larger, in diameter, than the Zhoukoudian or Peking man's cave. For sure, the cave-dwellers/pit-dwellers who need no civic amenities, sanitation, electronic home appliances, steel wardrobes, Kurlon/Dunlop mattresses, Bolero/Scorpio, Pulsar, Activa, Mechanised Bricks, etc, the "Khul [-ol/-ur]" or "Chhinlung/Sinlung" must have been mostly occupied only to avoid the affects and effects of inclement weathers, climates, natural catastrophes; and from the attacks of wild beasts and of course, to z-z-z in peace at noon and night times.

In the meantime, may I enquire and respond to myself - do we really need to be "a circumcised & repatriated to Israel"? My answer is, absolutely "NO!". Because, we are not Mannaseh or Manmasi or Manasia but, originally a Sanskrit 'Manusia' = humankind, people, man, &c. And possibly, those ancient Buddhist missionaries like Taranatha, and the Hindu Brahmans who had briefly sojourned and recognised our country as "Koki" (Kuki?) [Taranatha's "History of Buddhism in India", (Translated) 1990:330] had marked us in Sanskrit a 'Mlechchha' [barbarians] which we had twisted to "Miachal", because, during those days of yore we were 'unidentified indigenous people' extremely xenophobic; and, the hills in our country 'Nilachal' [greenly hills/silver hills-mountains] which is also shredded into "Nelachal" and "Nilachal".

And then, the "Sivan" and, "Devan" in "Sivanlal", "Devanngul" and "Devanthang"[L. Hranglien Songate, 1996:8] also seem to have been adopted/derived during the mosey days of Hindu Brahmans and Buddhists monks. One more example of such elements: the works of ThawngKhawHau (1955); VumKhoHau (1963); Capt. Khupzathang (1974); and, Vumson (1986). One could find that they do not know who the Suantak and Zahong were but still roll their yarns and continue to sell it out like hot cakes among gullible ignoramuses.

The result is: Ngengu(Sijang) the child of Suantak from his *second marriage [previously out of wedlock] was put up as the eldest whereas Neilut(Suantak) who, naturally and customarily, remained bearing the name "Suantak" with all of his descendants for being lawfully the eldest issue from Suantak's **first & legal marriage is neglected![* &**

Sorry, that I have been compelled by these four romantic "novelists" to spurt one among the "hidden truths" of Suantak genealogy and past, which have been regarded 'thianglo' (forbidden to disclose/pass on to others) since time beyond memory]. Yet, I think, they deserve appreciation for they are among the pioneering CKZ's history writers. Where have we gone while people traced our past? How long peoples around us and even some of us going to use "migrators" or "nomads"-escapees [see also James C. Scott, 2009:22-24, et al] of the atrocities of the Chinese emperors/dynasties, the warlike Shans from Nanchao, or, Genghis Khan's Invasion.

Let us remind ourselves that not only Prof. Nick Thom[April 2008], even our brethren Marings' tradition had also subscribed to what I have hypothesised in my previous write ups particularly, 'Sons of the soil we are!', 'Hypothesis on the evolution of modern human language [with special reference to Chin+Kuki+Zo tongue]', and in 'Defective Archaeological Excavations!'. What the Maring tradition draws out is this:"Not being satisfied with their[Marings] location in the plain, they migrated in a body to the hills lying close by, where they have since remained; the tradition among them is that the Kubbo [Kabaw valley in present Myanmar] valley was then almost entirely a vast lake"[T.C.Hodson,1989:15]. Now, you may reckon the period when Kabaw valley was submerged and emerged, and also, when we had discovered the hills we occupied to this day. Marings shared, biologically, one thread with the Pawis of Falam town in present Chin State [(L) Col. (MNF), V.Lunghnema, 1993:301].

Even prominent historians of India made it clear of their uncertainty in identifying the earliest settlers in India with these lines: "We cannot know the history of any people who have left no record of their existence. There may have been people or peoples who lived in India in primitive times, but the evidence of whose existence has not yet been discovered. - We shall only deal with those inhabitants of India whose existence is known to us from some records they have left behind" [RC Majumdar, HC Raychaudhuri & Kalikinkar Datta, (n.d?); An advanced history of India, Fourth Edition, Macmillan International College Editions, India, p.9.].

Right, none, except ourselves, recognised that we were already in this part of the Global Village since its hills emerged out of the 'Geological' water or, since more than ~20kya.BP. True, we have not left much remarkable records of out early period except the caves and tools in present Manipur hills; surface finding stone tools in Mizoram; and, Neolithic tools and caves in the States of Kachin, Shan, Mon, Taninthayi, and along the banks of Chindwin and Ayeyarwaddy rivers in present Myanmar.

And Scholars out there, you might have knew well, and earlier than me thatAcheulian tools and fossils are not associated only with Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, but also with us - the western and southern Asia! Thus, I am brightly kindled to expect something more in respect of our past that must have been related to the Acheulian days. Definitely, it was, and, is due to genetic 'mutation' of humans that our lowland neighbours too have the advantage to claim these fossils as theirs!

Our/CKZ language was the "proto-Sino-Tibeto-Burman language" [mother-language] of STBs' languages; neither Semitic nor Chinese etc. in origin. For instances, the Tibetan had stopped stressing the "t" in "giat" or "riat/riet" [eight (8)] and had already slackened and reduced it to "gye". Its origin in CKZ for 9[nine] is "Pakua/Kua/Kuo", but already loosen/slanged in Tibetan as "Gu" and in Burmese simply "Ku" in their abbreviated forms.

These two languages have neglected to stress the "a" sound in 9. In this way, a number of words have been marooned, reduced and slacken or putrid with some Sanskrit and other [lingo] elements. Again, CKZ word "Gūn/Ngūn/Rūn" for large river is mythologized by the Chinese as the name of the "regulator of rivers" or "controller of floods" with the same "Gun". Besides, the Chinese keep on with them the CKZ's "nu" for 'mother' or 'female' and gradually mythologized with an additional term "wa" and formed "Nu Wa" as the creator of the first humans.

Evidently, majority of those languages [STBs] stemming out from CKZ languages have been developed with scripts and more words because of culturally and linguistically intermixing-sharing with other advanced ethnic groups [of later dates] during they mosey into the Southern China and Southeast Asian countries. Unknowingly yet quite in support of my hypotheses, let me flaunt again; Nick Thom had also dated the development of what he classified as "Kuki-Chin" and "Lushei" language(s) in ?12,000-10,000BC, and those of other STBs & TBs in Myanmar, Southern China and Southeast Asia at a later date. As far as speculation is concerned in tracing the prehistoric natives of present India, CKZ (seems to had) preceded even the Dravidians, who are now mostly concentrated in South India since the arrival of the Aryans in ?1500BCE [RC Majumdar & N.Bhattasali, 1930:6, 7].

Now, the logical message in this impolite and topsy-turvy write up is: First and foremost, let us know from now on-writing or narrating 'history' must be 'nitty-gritty', not somewhat like journalism [reporting news & events, or writing articles to their tune] or writing a novel. Strictly, research on 'History' is neither a child's play nor everybody's game because, it could destroy a number of generations of whom else? "YOURS, MINE, & THEIRS".

Two, let us from now refrain from being "Jack of all trade and master of none". You can't be "Rev - Pastor - Social worker - Historian - Contractor Saheb - Mahajonpu - Journalist/Novelist - Politician - Govt.servant - NGO's Sir", all at a time. Once a "History Scholar", be it all your life.

Three, let us re-think, re-examine/re-investigate our history or, at least, let us rewrite it as much accurate as we could. For this task, I would like to implore and exhort our promising and adventurous young research scholars of today who are serving/learning in several varsities and colleges of social sciences & theologies to intensively and extensively scrutinize our past lest we destroy ourselves and then cry over the spilt milk.

I meant, let us not trace our history simply to fill-up the folios of our theses just to grab a Secular or Theological Certificate[s] like which I have labelled down: "Selfish Certificate", "Eco. Survival Certificate", "Rev. Aksa-me Certificate", "Popularity Pass", and "Foreign Fund Slip".

Otherwise, I could feel that even our ethno-geo-political voyage shall surely be sabotaged and hobbled by alienation and marginalise attitudes by none other, but from among ourselves.

And let us know, we still have miles to go before we sleep...and how I wish if an honest and dignify "gifted-eclectic historian" with sufficient knowledge of anthropology, archaeology, biogeography, genome mapping, linguistic, palaeontology, &c; plus, resourcefully expert interpreter of oral traditions be born for us shortly! And,...that's it, what I could share and contribute for us today.


* Dr Joseph Suantak( a resident of Tuibuang Bazar, Churachandpur, Manipur) wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition) .
This article was webcasted on July 10, 2011.



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