Who are KCho?
K'Cho or Cho Chins are the people of Southern Chin State who are particularly living in Mindat and Kampetlet townships, Myanmar. They call themselves K'Cho or Cho. K'Cho people speak Kcho dialect. Among Chin Dialects in Myanmar, K'Cho dialect is unique. It stands uniquely and does not mixed with other Chin Languages. Commonly, one type of Chin dialects can be communicate with another type of Chin dialect ( Haka dialect can be understand by Htantlang, Tiddim dialect can be use to communicate with Ton Zang dialect etc...). For some reason Kcho dialect is hard to learn and it is a little bit similar hear and there with all other Chin dialects. K'Cho is their native language and they speak Myanmar as a second language. The people of Mindat and Kampetlet are called K'Cho as well as their language is also called K'Cho. The K'Cho Chin group is composed of smaller linguistically diverse groups of Müün, Dai and M'Kaang. Although the K'Cho Chin group is composed of smaller linguistically diverse groups of Müün, Dai and M'Kaang , K'Cho language is used as a common language in the area of Mindat and Kampetlet.
Even today Chin State is highly inaccessible - in the rainy season the rivers gush down steep valleys and the roads and tracks become nearly impassable. The K'Cho have traditionally lived in scattered villages along the mountain tops in the south of the State. They have practiced swidden field agriculture there, and engaged in trade with surrounding areas.
The K'Cho language, lifestyle and worldview have been tied in closely to the seasons and the land. Even now if you are to make a well-constructed sentence in the language about where you are about to go, you must add to the verb a term which states whether it is upwards, downwards or away from your present location.
The people themselves are reknowned for their sense of family and clan, their hospitality, 'zu' beer drinking, and personal courage. In colonial days, K'Cho men along with other Chin became prized by the British army for their physical consitution, bravery and loyalty.
Other Names for K'Cho
K'cho is the main name used by the speakers of the language to refer to themselves. There are however other names which have been used in referring to them. These are listed up below.
A term used by the K'cho to distinguish themselves from their immediate neighbors. It is pronounced like the word 'mern' would be in English, and is a term of unclear origin.
This is the name of a particular village of K'cho speakers. The term has been used in some linguistic papers on the language but is too limited geographically to refer to the whole tribe.
A term meaning the 'Chin from the Yawdwin River'. Other tribes live in the same vicinity so this is not the most precise of names.
An uncomplimentary term meaning 'black Chin' perhaps denoting the facial tatoos of the women. Some of the tattoo patterns could appear black.
A derogatory term from Burmese meaning 'rotten Chin'. It goes without saying that such terms should be avoided. It is only mentioned here because of its usage in older langauge and tribal surveys of the region.
K'Cho are not Chinbok !
There is no place or people named as Chinbok before or after our grandparents throughout the history.
The Chin people of Burma
The K'Cho are a sub-group of the Chin. There are many tribes and languages of Chin - not only in Burma but also in the surrounding nations of India and Bangladesh. The K'Cho are only one of the many related people groups, and as mentioned they are found in the vicinity of Mindat in Chin State.
Chin is a name with an unclear history. Some have said it comes from the word for 'basket', since the Chin are known for their skills in weaving. Others have said that it originates in the Burmese word for 'friend' and reflects the favorable relations that the two peoples have shared over time. Little more can be said than this now. Conclusive evidence simply has not been found that would prove where the name comes from, and it may well be lost in history.
These days there is a misplaced, but increasingly publicized notion that all Chin refer to themselves as 'Zo', or 'Zomi'. This is not true, and although it is possible that the many terms used by the variousChin tribes to identify themselves may be related historically, i.e. Mizo, Asho, Lai, Hyou, Khumi etc., it is not correct nor helpful to claim one name for all Chin who so clearly have their own ways of referring to themselves.
The K'cho call themselves and all other Chin 'Kcho'. To this they add place names to distinguish tribes from each other when necessary, e.g. Hakha K'cho, Batu K'cho, Yopa K'cho etc.