The term Zo has been known, throughout Zo history from their ancestors generation of ages, but the term Chin came to exist among the Zo only after they have contacted with the Burman, in 700 AD.
When we discuss about unity among our people, unless our out look or world view is broad enough to cover the whole Zo, regardless of the division, by the three national boundaries into three major sections of our society, our efforts will remain in vain. If we are really concerned about unity among all Zo people, then we might have to adjust with others in many aspects of our lives in terms of cultures, dialects, political perspectives, infrastructures, communication etc. As the term Zo covers people who live in India, Burma and Bangladesh, we should never limit ourselves, into Chin State, in Burma alone, when we discuss about unity among the Zo. There are also many Zo who live in Sakaing Division of Burma, in the plain area, which is outside Chin State of Burma..
People who already called themselves Zo, and their numbers:
In Mizoram, India, the population of Zo is estimated to be at least 700,000. The common language is called duhlian dialect which was introduced during the time of the Chief Sailo, the descendant of Sizang. In Manipur State of India, there is a district called Lamka or Charachanpur where Zo mainly inhabited the land and their population is estimated to be at least 55000 who called themselves paite or kuki, as they are also sub ethnic group of Zo. They all aware that they are Zomi. When it comes to the Zo inside Bangladesh, though they refer themselves as Bawm, and they called themselves Zo as well. Their population could be about 50000 in numbers. Now, we can see a roug! h figure of the two places in India, and Bangladesh where people have no difficulties to identify themselves as Zo. The estimated total population of Zo in India and Bangladesh could be, about 805000 in number.
Let us visit Chin State of Burma, where there are all together 9 township, among those nine, people in the two townships called Tonzang and Tedim, have no difficulties in accepting Zo and their population will be at least 120,000 in numbers. People in Falam township are originally called Laizo and their population could be at least 50,000 in numbers. In Thantlang Township and in Hakha township there are people who called themselves as Zotung or Zophei, and the Haka themselves are actually Zo. Their population could be 100,000 altogether. These are the population of people who use, our original national name or identity to refer themselves throughout ages. So they will not have any difficulties to be called themselves! as Zo, if they consider about our national heritage, which is rooted from our soils but not from the foreign soils. Now we have covered 5 town ships from northern Chin State, Mizoram of India, Lamka district of Manipur State, India, Bawm Zo People of Bangladesh. The plain Zo people, who live out side Chin State of Burma, mainly in Sakaing Division or other parts of Burma, will not have any difficulties in, selecting their ancestors original name over the Burmans given name. So, literally the numbers of people who already used the name Zo is already the majority, and it is overwhelming.
In southern Chin State, there are 4 townships, where people called themselves as Asho, Cho, Mara etc. and from our history we can see that they also called themselves as Zaw, Yo, Khlang or Chlang which means people. The ancestors of our brother plain Zo were the first to contact with the Burman people, from which the Burman called us Chin, this term derived from Khlang or Chlang. So, the majority of Zo people already called themselves as Zo. But only a very few insisted that they like to be called Chin. The British met the Burman first, before they met us, as the result the name Chin is commonly used in the world. But, unfortunately its a Burman word and it has nothing to do with our original root, or our national heritage but just a mispronunciation of the word Chlang, and you ! can see that, the majority of our people have no difficulties to be called Zo, in mizoram, manipur of India, Bangladesh, Burma.
Why some people like the name Chin:
It is part of Burmanization, and if we consider inside Burma alone Zo population is only about 500.000 in Chin State and the rest is about 48 millions people. So, they like to be contented with, how the majority called us in Burmese or in English. The other reason is that since the term Zo is continued to be the main terminology to refer ourselves, mainly, in Tedim and Tonzang town ship, though laizo , zotung, zophei called themselves too, in Falam, Haka and Thantlang township, it is diminishing in their areas, and the reason was, just because of township politics. Therefore, if they are to adopt the term Zo again, even in other town ship, they think that these two town ship might influence or dominate in terms of the name. So, they rather be remained as the servants and the faithful slaves of the (Kawlte) Burman, and still prefer the name which the Burman give us over the n! ame which is already existed from our own soil.
This is not just a theory, but historical facts on the hostilities between local politics based on to dialectical differences, which is unfortunately a hindrance to all the efforts done in the past for Zo unification. During the 70s in Rgn university, Zo student organised a student body and named Hill Chin Student Organization, where the plain Zo not only hesitated to join, this student body but the name itself became a hindrance. Later on, the name was changed into just Chin Student Organization which include the plain brothers too. But the name Zo include everyone, whether you live in India, Bangladesh, Burma. As long as you are the descendants of Zo race then you belong to Zomi automatically, it is our birth rights to be called ourselves Zo. No one can take away our national birth rights, not even the Burman, though they tried to replace with a phoney name called Chin,! and some of us happened to be very fond of that name, because it was given by, their masters. They didnt want to disappoint their masters by discarding their counterfeit name. Perhaps, the counterfeit name Chin has a sentimental value for them, and the gratitude toward the Burman is even greater to the extent that they are compelled to denounce their own national identity, and adopt a fake identity.
Implication of choosing the name Chin:
By choosing the name Chin we confirm the sovereignty of the Burman. And we totally submit ourselves into the hand of the Burman. While some of us claimed to be deterred by Burmanization, yet still embracing the name Chin, which was given by the Burman. As the matter of fact, it implies that, we are worthless and inferior to the Burman, that the Burman had to give us even our national name. By accepting the name, Chin our inferior complexity is greater than ever. In Zo language we called the Burman Kawl, now do you think, the Burman will prefer the name Kawl over Bama, or the Burman will prefer the name they already have?.
They proudly say, Nga Maha Bama kuah, which means, I am the Great Burman, or Maha Bama, Maha Banduhlah. They will never say that Nga Kawl kuah. Likewise, we should be very proud of the original name, we already have since the time of our ancestors, throughout ages, as our first preferences. By choosing, the name Chin over the name Zo we confirm the supremacy of the Burman, and at the same time, we lower our value, status as people who do not even have, our own national name, while we do already have our national name, that is Zo. There is nothing to be proud of, if we prefer the name given by kawl te, and deny the name which the majority of our people already used.
In search of our root:
There are some scholars who attempted to search our root back to BC 800, BC 700, BC 200 in the Chinese history and made an assumption that we might have our root in China. But this is only an assumption, and there is no substantial evidences to prove that we belong to Chinese race, in stead the structure of our language belongs to Tibeto Burman family, which shows that our root has nothing to do with, Chin Dynasty of China.
Another folk story of Kachin people mentioned that, Chin and Kachin were brothers, and as their numbers increased in China where they lived before, they were emigrated into Burma from the northern side. The elder brother started migration first and to show their path, they cut banana plant where ever they go, so that the younger brother, Kachin, would be able to follow. But when the Kachin and his group saw the banana plant had grown so big and they believed that they will never catch up with the elder brother so they decided to settle in Kachin State. But again, this is just a folk story and there is no written records as the Kachin also did not have their own written language, so its authenticity is again questionable.
Slave hood, and their mentality:
During, the period of the eradication of slavery in North America, it was not only difficult for the masters themselves, but also became a major dilemma for the slaves themselves, for their entire lives, they have been used to dictation, order, and command that they were no longer capable of their rational and independent decision making for their own lives, when they were declared free. Thus, many slaves, went back to their old masters and beg them to retain the old job they had been doing to feed their family. Another reason was, many of them lacked of basic capital such as land, for the slave do not own soil for cultivation, which was the main source of their livelihood, in order to provide their family.
The name Chin was given by the Burman, and if we continue to choose this name over Zo which our ancestors designated themselves throughout their history, it implies that, we are incapable of independent decision making for our own existence as those slaves did. There is no patriotism, heroism, or nationalism involved but only cowardice and inferiority complex in accepting everything you get from a dictator or Kawlte, including the most important name, such as your main national identity or your national name. To choose Chin over Zo implies and confirms that, you are incapable of rational thinking, and still prefer the supremacy of the Burman over the supremacy and existence as Zo as independent Zo national. While you claimed to deter Burmanization, but by preferring the name Chin you support Burmanization, over Zo people. !
Thus, you are nothing but a betrayer, and a coward to your own people. Many Chin politicians kiss the Burmans behind to get promotion, in order to feed their own family, while they do everything the Burman order them to do. If the Burman ask them to change our national name into Dog they will still accept that name, and it is evidence that people who prefer the name Chin over Zo will also readily accept the name Dog for our national name, if the Burman give us that name, for our national identification. To please the Burman is more important to them than to stand up for the Zo, in uplifting the living standard of our society.
The Burman leaders did not like at all, if all Zo were going to unite under the name, Zo and became a very strong Zo national. But the time will surely come one day, that we will have to make a choice between Zo and Chin as our national identity. The choose belongs to us, as the decision is also belongs to us. At present, our society is a disintegrated society, where there is a feeling of no hope and uncertainly, under our leaders who still confused among themselves, like a blind man leading another blind man, not knowing when they may step over a deep dark pit, and it is undoubtedly a very sad fact, which no one can deny about.
Anyone who has a strong feeling against Burmanization should start by not accepting the name Chin as our national identity, it simply, because it is not our national identity. This simplified view will lead us to a very important concept of determination, in retaining our own national identity, which has reached a crucial stage, regardless of the process, and the structure that will be chosen for implementation later, when we get democracy in Burma. But, now is the right time, to make people understand about our national heritage, though the Burman with their craftiness has not only crowded our minds but also taken advantages on our ignorance about the important issue on our national identity, or national name.
Beyond any doubt, the Burman have succeeded in their attempt to assimilate all the different ethnic groups of Burma, by Burmanization in terms of culture, politics, religion, literature, social environment and even economy. Mean while, the Generals will be amused to discover about the so called many Zo political leaders, who still have no ideas about the tactics the Generals used to make us lost our original national identity over a fake identity given by those jackals, and make us involuntary assimilate into Burman way of life. The worst thing, to be a politician in Burma is, none other than, not knowing the motive behind those Burman, in their tactical operation among the ethnic minorities. Many Zo who still embrace the name Chin fall into this category, who do not know the motive behind those generals or those Burman, and that is one of the reasons, we the Zo may not! need, those idiotic politicians, in the future to lead the Zo, because they will spend their life time, only in kissing the Burmans behind, and it will be a total waste for the Zo.
It will take a number of years before efficacy of this important paradigm can be determined, with absolute certainty. If it incorporates into an iterative framework more realistically, which reflects the real world, in which people could clearly see as our national heritage and its political implication then its implementation will not be a dilemma at all.