Lawq gaw Mangq pov guq

[interview by Manu Luksch, conducted in Chiang Mai Jan. 2000, translated by Aju Jupoh.]





My name is Lawq gaw Mangq pov guq. I was born in Sipsongpanna in China.



We are used to having bad omens. Also we cannot live in Sipsongpanna. That's why we moved to Burma.



I moved to Burma in the year of 1964.



After we moved to Burma we didn't find it easy to live there. The country isn't peaceful. It's a hard life. The government has caused a lot of problems for us. That's why moving for the Akha people is very difficult.



In Burma they have a lot of armed forces. There's a lack of food, clothes and medicine. We have to move from place to place.



We moved further south. After that we moved across to Thailand.  We heard that Thailand is much better than Burma. It's peaceful in Thailand. That's why I've come to Thailand.



I arrived in Thailand in the year of 1985.



When we arrived in Thailand we still didn't have identity cards. But in Thailand the law says that those who want to live in there have to have Thai ID card.



In the beginning we had nowhere to live. That's why we went to stay in the Mea Teang District. And those parts are just near the border of Burma. They also have big fights among minority groups.



But I have 4 children and I have to live. I have to run away with the children during moving. When it's getting dark I have to sleep there. I have a hard time.



After that I have to move again. I move to Sean Jei village. The Akha people call this village Lolo village.



In the beginning, when I moved to this village I didn't have enough rice to feed to my children.   



After that I stay there for a while with our village head, Jaq gavq. He told Paul Lewis that one Akha person can write Akha script in Sean Jai village and then I went to see Paul Lewis and he asked me: Can you read and write Akha skript?



I answered him: Yes I can read and write. And then he showed me his book which he wrote during his time in Burma. I can read all the books he wrote.



I help him writing.  We're writing about the Akha culture, the Akha proverbs and also the Akha songs. I could work with him for a little while and then he went back to his country.



After Paul Lewis had gone back to his country I worked in the Akha Association. Aju Jupoh is the president and director of the Akha Association. He asked me to help him out to read the Akha text. That's why I worked with him for quite long times.



We're taking care of writing down the cultural part and then I work with him together.



I appreciated and was very happy for having worked with him but I have three or four children and I don't have enough money to feed them. I cannot provide them with a good enough education and I don't want them to stop studying them. That's why I went to Taiwan.  I had to earn some money for the kids. I could save money when I went to Taiwan. But they have the rule there of only being able to work for three years maximum. After that I'll come back to Thailand.



Abaw Buseu knows that I can read and write Akha script. Abaw Buseu and Dr Leo came up to me and asked: shall we write Akha text together? And I said yes because I was happy to do this job and now I work in Chiang Mai with Abaw Leo.



The Akha culture cannot survive any longer if we don't write it down. Therefore I'm working on the Pir ma text, archiving the text of the Pir ma. We've been reciting. We have to write things down before they are going to die from our culture.



[...] We have been writing the Akha script but not very many people in Thailand can read and write. The Akha people in Sipsongpanna though can read and are very happy to see our work. There's a difference in writing between China, Burma and Laos and Thailand. Nowadays, if they are writing we cannot communicate in the writing system amongst the Akha who live in Burma or China. We hope that in the future we can discuss and make conclusions or summarize and then we can communicate through writing. This is our hope for the future.