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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

General Mowu Gwizan from Nagaland

One Sunday during the summertime when Lu Lu and I went to church and Asian man came to church. We knew he was a visitor as we had never seen him before. I told Lu Lu after the church service let's go and find out what country his is from. As we introduced ourselves he told us that he was General Mowu Gwizan from the Nagaland. I asked him what he was doing in Washington. He told me that he was staying in one of the hotels in Washington for two weeks already, and that he was trying to get an appointment at the State Department to present his grievances about his people and the way they were treated by the Indian Government. But so far he wasn't able to contact anybody at the State Department. I said to Lu Lu let's take him home with us as I am sure he is dying for a real home-cooked Oriental dinner. He came to the right place as Lu Lu always had something cooked.

The General was really pleased with Lu Lu's hospitality and told her that her cooking was the same as the Naga people. For four days General Mowu Gwizan visited our home. During his visits we talked about his purpose of visiting the U.S. He told me the history of the Naga people. During the colonial times of India and Burma by the British Empire the Naga people fought the British troops for more than 40 years before they made a peace agreement. After the independence of India (1947) and Burma (1948) one part of Nagaland was annexed to India and a smaller part to Burma. The Naga people had fought the British for many years because they felt that they were a separate country and a separate ethnic group. India and Burma always felt that the Nagaland was Part of them.

After the Independence boundaries were made under English supervision, the Naga people felt very dishonored and many of them fought the Indian and Burmese Government in a guerilla warfare. In the earlier years of the guerilla warfare the Naga people caused heavy losses to the Indian Army, as the Indian Army was not very experienced against the Naga hill people. But over the years the Indian Army learned a lot about the Naga hill people jungle guerilla warfare and has driven most of its pocket resistance groups into the dense, thick mountain jungles. General Mowu Gwizan was telling me how the old people and children suffer from malnutrition in the mountain jungles. The General himself was caught and put in jail four times by the Indian Government and once by the Burmese. He said he almost lost his life during his jail time in India but in the Burmese jail he was treated much better. At any time that he is caught by the Indian Government his life will be in jeopardy. Most of the Naga people, I was told, were Christians and don't like to be under Indian or Burmese Government ruling. What most disturbed me about General Gwizan's story was that the Russian KGB was heavily infiltrating the people in that part of the world. Many young Naga men were sent to Russia for communist training. Here we have a country with a Christian population, divided and governed by two non-Christian countries, against the peoples' will, and heavily infiltrated by the communist world. Here was General Gwizan sent by his people to beg the Western world for help in their struggles for Independence and yet he wasn't able to see anybody at the State Department. I was very taken by this man's story and his fight for so many years to self-rule his country.

I told the General that I would try to help him as I had some friends who had close connections with the State Department. First I called a friend who had close connection with the CIA, but after a long talk it looked like he was not very interested in my story. Then I called the former American Ambassador to Burma, Mr. Henry Byroade. I asked him if he ever visited the Nagaland, and he told me he visited that country twice and loved its people. I told him the story about General Gwizan and if he had any people in the State Department who would talk to the General. he told me that he would try and see what he could do for him. Unfortunately nothing came of our conversation with Mr. Byroade as he was taken ill and had to go to the hospital. Then I called Mrs. Jean Kirk-Patrick, Ambassador of the UN, and asked her if she could help the General. She told me that they had twelve cases a day about ethnic groups of people who wanted their own self-rule, it was just too much for the State Department to get involved. The only countries who could settle this with the Naga people were the Indian and Burmese Government. After almost a months' stay in Washington, General Gwizan was never able to get an appointment to see anybody in the State Department. His finances ran out but he was able to get a loan from a doctor's friend in Pennsylvania. he flew to England where he had to see some old friends, and from there to Denmark. Months later I received a letter and a package from Katmandu, Nepal, telling us that everything was OK with General Gwizan and that he was on his way to Europe for another trip. It was his wife who sent us the letter and package, thanking us for the hospitality. She wrote that her husband had nothing but good words for us. In the package was a hand woven piece of cloth and a bag from the Nagaland.

CONTINUED: Health problems start to slow me down
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index