- Rev Dr Zaichhawna Hlawndo

Previously, I wrote about the need to wake up to our true national identity. Zofate have been lost for many decades with an unrealised common national identity. Instead of uniting under one common identity which is historically accepted and used in our terminology since time immemorial, division has stirred amongst our people through adoption of various tribal identities as national identities - identities which were given to us by external administration for their political advantage. 

Our common language has also gradually differed throughout the many decades that we have been divided. The division through geographical boundaries has resulted in minor differences in culture - including our traditional attire and manners. The Divide and Rule policy as mentioned in previous articles has resulted in a divided sense of nationality and understanding of our identity as per the different tribal identities given to us by different political administrations. Since we have a lost sense of identity, other nations have given us different labels such as Kuki, Lushai, Chin, Chilai, Khang and Mizo. None of these tribal names have ever been accepted or celebrated as one single national identity.

What is more important than the question ‘Who do others say we are?’ is the question *‘Who have we said we are?’ * That term, or national name that we have used as a people since time immemorial is ‘Zofate’. Why are we Zofate? The most straightforward answer is this: *’Because our forefather is Zo or Zova.’* It is common knowledge that national names are derived from ancestors. All of our renowned historians and writers agree that Zo or Zova is our common ancestor. Our oldest literature and hymns have the term Zofate painted across its pages and hence imprinted in our hearts. I have written this genealogy of Zofate in detail in my book “Tu Dang Kan Nilo Zofate Kan Ni” (We Are None Other Than The Zofate) so I will not go into further specifics in this article.

Although changes occur and can be observed due to separation and boundaries, Zofate(s) over every hill and valley have sung and spoken of this common national identity. Numerous brothers and sisters have toiled to unite our people, to stand together under one common identity and nationality again. One cannot deny the myriads of literature and songs that identify us as Zofate. 

This term is definitely no stranger to our most important organisations including political parties and NGOs. Zo Reunification Organization (ZoRO) have worked tirelessly to unite Zo identities for many years and their written documents are a proof of this statement. Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) have aimed to unite our people by teaching their leaders and associates to only use the term Zofate; it is clear that our unity stands at the heart of their goal for our people. One of Young Mizo Association (YMA)’s main goal is to cause unification amongst the Zofate and preserve our identity. Even the church is standing on its toes to see the awakening of our people Zofate. This is evident in our song that we sing from our Christian Song/Hymn Book 343 over and over again which reads in the fourth stanza “Harh r’u, Zofate harh r’u, Hnehna ropui kan chang thuai ang” (Awake, Awake Zofate, We will achieve great victory).

Nehemiah (the Jewish leader) received a calling to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem which was attacked and burned down by other nations (according to the Biblical account). He challenged his people to work together to rebuild these walls so that they (children of God) would no longer suffer disgrace (Nehemiah 2:17). The people united and said “Let us start rebuilding” and began the good work (verse 18). As the people of God worked together to rebuild every broken wall, we must rise together to rebuild every broken wall of divided identity amongst our people. We must break through every tribe and clan used to divide and rule over us and accept One National Identity. *It is time that we unite and declare that we are ‘No Other Than the Zofate’ and claim our true inheritance as a Great Nation that cannot be shaken.*

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