(This article was taken form my writings at the Zou Workshop forum dated December 18, 2007 dealing with the Thangkhal accent issue)
Dear Sam Zou & Zou Workshop patrons,
Thanks for bringing up this issue. I have been contemplating on the issue for quite a while – trying to figure out our differences with the Zou dialect speakers of the Thangkhal variation/accent in terms of origin, migration and settlement, socio-political and religious organizations, culture and customs. I found no reason to say that they are different tribe, but we are rather one and the same people. The essential characteristics of the tribal communities are:- Primitive traits, Geographical isolation, Distinct culture, Shy of contact with community at large, Economically backward.
1. We have our nice and very beautiful Zou dialectal variation such as Khuangnung, Guun-gal, Thangkhal and Haidawi. Likewise, we also have combination of bi or multi accents of the Zou dialect. Let me try to put the dialectal variations or accents of our people, according to our settlement, in this way:
Villages along the Khuga/Tuitha river: Khuangnung and Thangkhal accent with mixed accent in town area.
Villages along the Tuivai river: Mostly Haidawi with little Thangkhal and Khuangnung accent.
Villages along the Tuivel river: Haidawi with local accent.
Villages along the Tuila river: Haidawi and Khuangnung with local accent.
Villages along the Imphal river: Mostly Guun-gal with little Thangkhal accent.
Villages in Tuining area: Mostly Thangkhal with little Haidawi accent.
Select Zou settlements in Manipur (2)
I. Urban AreaZomi Colony, Manniang Veng, Zoveng, Hiangzou, New Zoveng, Kamdou veng (Tuibuong), Zoumunnuan, Simveng and Beulahlane within Churachandpur township Zomi Villa, Langgol and Tribal Colony within Imphal district.
II. Semi-Urban AreaSingngat, Sugnu Zoveng and Moreh (These towns are mixed settlements with significant concentration of Zou population)
III. Rural AreaVillages along the Khuga (Tuitha) river:
Tuaitengphai, Muallum, Daizang, Khianglam, T. Khazang, Belpuan, Sumchinvum, Teikot, Suangkuang, Zoukhonuam, Hiangtam (K), Belbing, S. Geltui, S. Munhoi, Panglian, M. Tanglian, Hiangdung, Lummual, Kullian, Phaibem, Zoumun, Khianglam, Bohlui, Tuibul, Benazou, Buangmun, Suangnal, Zahong, Sialnah, and Khuangmun
Villages along the Tuivai river: Behiang, Hiangtam, Tonzang, L. Kanaan, Zangnuam, Lunzang, Suangphu, Sialsi, Bualkot, Likhai, Tangpizawl (Tangko Camp), and Sehngalzang
Villages along the Tuivel river: Mawngken, Maukot, Tuimanzang, and Mualzin
Villages along the Tuila river: Hiangmual, Munpi, Zabellei, Allusingtam, Sabual, T. Hangnuam, and Buhsau Villages along the Imphal river: Khuainuai, Paldai, Sachiktampak, Singtom, Phaisan, Singheu, Telsalzang, M. Khaukual, Khuangkhai, Paldai, Sachih, and Kathuang
Villages in Tuining area: Tuining, Tuinuphai, N.Khovung, Zomi Zion, T.Vazang, Khaimunmuam, Sangaikot, Kuvan, Saiboh, Zobethel, Gangpimual, and Khuangkhai
Most of us will also be aware of the variation in the border areas such as Suangphu, Vanglai, Khuaivum, etc. They speak the Zou dialect with a very beautiful accent. Mualtam shares this accent. Guun-gal accent is mostly derived from the accent of our brothers and sisters in Burma. To me, there is no shame on speaking one or multiple Zou accents, but we should be proud of it.
None of us said and will say any particular accent of these dialects amount to a tribe, but all of us tried to boost our accents as if it is the original Zou dialect. This is right and we ought to patronize it because we all are original Zou/Zomi. (Can I say the original Zoukhankhual!?) There is a virus injected within our community and this brought chaos and confusion amongst us. Nevertheless, extremism is the worse position to unity and fraternity. Those who want to divide us by these accents, shame on them! This is intra-communal chaos and we ought to solve within our community.
As I went through your writings a couple of times, I can sense that you felt uncomfortable to call yourself Zo/Zou or felt shy with your accent among your peers, aren‘t you? But, I felt so comfortable and exceedingly joyful to call you a full-blooded Zo/Zou. Not to hurt you, but to re-assure you, brother. Your statement, “Zou ham kazat jiah a, Zou kahi sih a, Zou kahi jiah a, Zou ham a ham kahibou hi” is commendable and applaudable. As a matter of fact, there are some unspecified clans or groups of people who does not want to belong to any particular tribe and that is fine. They are the OBC groups. To me, Thangkhal is and will never be an OBC group, but they are full-blooded Zo/Zou, with a very little exceptions.
Thanks for taking time to read. God Bless.
Source: Withheld with the reguest of the author as it is yet to be released soon.