The last Manau ‘Unity’ Dance held in Myitkyina, 2010. Since the outbreak of fighting in 2011 it has been curtailed by the Burmese national government and made all but impossible.
The Manau dance is an annual Kachin tradition dating back to pre-christian times. Manau is seen as a festival to unite the different Kachin tribes, they come from hundreds of miles around, even crossing national borders of India and China to all dance the same dance. However, since the outbreak of fighting in 2011 it has been curtailed by the Burmese national government and made all but impossible to hold Manau in the National government controlled Kachin capital of Myitkyina. This was the Myitkyina’s last Manau.
Already there was pressure before the festivities in 2011, no information about the event was allowed to be published in the native Jingpaw language, instead all details had to be written in Burmese, which many Kachin’s are illiterate in. Following 2010 the KIO was barred from attending, along with the Singhpaw (Indian Kachins) and great duress was put on those travelling across the KIA – Burmese controlled areas.
Truly 2010 was an important year for Manua, despite the hostilities and tension both the KIA/O and Burmese army units were in attendance, the Burmese northern commander even gave a speech to a sea of Kachins. It lived up to its name as a unifying festival, but has since, like with so many other Kachins had to migrate to safer territory ever since.