Literally in English, ‘Kachin Arts’, Wunpawng Shingni is Kachin State’s first independent, secular, multi-ethnic arts organisation. Residing in a two-storey wooden house in Myitkyina’s famed Manau Cultural Park, the whole organisation was formed in May 2013, taking advantage of the liberalising reforms of the Thein Sein administration. Split into several departments, including music, fashion and textile, dance and audio visual they are mostly known for their bi-monthly publication of the same name. The journal features stories, poems, cartoons, as well as serious nonfiction reportage essays and photographs all in the Jinghpaw language. The journal is printed in Yangon, take to Myitkyina by train and distributed across Kachin and Shan State with help from the Kachin Baptist Convention. Unusually for an ethnic language journal they pay for content, 10,000 MMK for two page short story, 5000 MMK for a single page flash fiction or poem. Selling at 500 kyat a copy, the journal is a loss making enterprise, but carries on thanks to the passion and sacrifice of its chief editor, K Bawm Awn and his editorial team who frequently push the boundaries of what is and is not acceptable to the military.
To read more about the Kachin, their censored literature and my travels with them, take a look at my award-shortlisted political travel book, ‘The People Elsewhere: Unbound Journeys with the Storytellers of Myanmar’.