The smallest of the three main ethnic communities from Kayah State on Myanmar’s eastern border with Thailand, the Kayaw’s literature and culture committee is also the oldest. Begun as early as 1968/69, the incessant fighting between the military government and the multiple Karenni armed groups has severely dented the operations and membership of the KLCC. Since the transition, and the easing of restrictions in movement and non-political activities, the current central committee is embarking in a recruitment drive to build up their numbers. The committee have already published songs and children stories in the primary Kayaw script (Romanic with indigenous diacritical points). With 5 subgroups within the Kayaw themselves, most of the committee’s time is spent on unifying their dialects and scripts.
To read more about the Kayaw, 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’.