Akha / Hani People
Akha/Hani religion is a combination of animism and ancestor worship. Their worldview is completely colored by their animistic beliefs, thus even the cultivation of rice is bound up with myths and rituals and must be done in the "Akha/Hani way."
Akha/Hani people also have an understanding of a great world-creating
divinity. All sicknesses are under the control of this spirit; therefore,
sacrifices must be made continually in an attempt to gain its favor. Every
village has two spirit-gates. The gates are situated at the village
entrance and exit to mark the kingdom area of the spirit and its people.
The villagers build new gates every year and dedicate them to the spirits
with many sacrifices. The Akha/Hani people also are heavily involved in
ancestor worship and show a remarkable knowledge of their ancestral past;
most Akha/Hani men are able to recite over 60 names of their male
Veneration of the ancestors is important because it is believed that the ancestors can bestow blessings on those still living. The ancestral altar kept in each home is well maintained. Nine times a year, on special occasions such as New Year and the beginning of the rice harvest, sacrifices are offered to the ancestors and to the demons whose paraphernalia also clutters the ancestor altar.
The Akha/Hani language belongs to the Lolo branch of the Tibeto-Burman family. It has three main tones and two types of short vowels. A Romanized script is used in Thailand, Burma, and Yunnan, although the script used in Yunnan is unusual in that it uses letters for tone marks. The orthography makes the written language appear monosyllabic - each syllable is written separately. However, this spacing is merely to accommodate the placement of tone marks
Akha-culture and Christianity
Akha were ruled by headman and spirit priest in every village. The spirit priest
told his people what they were to do and what they could not do. He had
tremendous power over his people.
The Akha religion
knows no love, no
mercy, no pity. Fear and anxiety is predominant and especially when someone is sick there
is great uncertainty what the cause is. Have the spirits bitten the
person? Have they not sacrificed enough for the ancestors? New offerings have to
be brought, the spirit priest has to try and find out what the spirits are asking for.
is or was a religion of fear, oppression and slavery.
the good news of Jesus Christ was first brought to the Akha, the spirit-priest of
course feared that he would loose his tremendous influence and power. So many
bad rumours were told about the white missionaries and again fear was
Akha needed concrete evidence of the power of Jesus Christ over the spirits. The
first Christian village was such an evidence and visitors came from far and wide
to see how Christians lived, how the Jesus way worked.
later we heard again and again: we have now watched the Christians on the Jesus-
way for a long time and it works. What did they see?
oppression and fear of the spirits was eliminated through faith in the power of
- This meant that they could change their way of life completely: No more
fear of the water spirits meant that they could lead the water right into the
- Hygiene, especially among the children meant that the rate in
child-deaths rapidly diminished. People were much healthier.
- They were open for new things: e.g. better eating habits, new methods in
Twins in the old religion meant
spirits in a human body and they had to be killed immediately. Now twins could
live and were a joy to their parents.
Animal sacrifices were not needed any more. Meat could be prepared when
the people wanted and needed it, especially during festivities.
people were much healthier and happier after they had left the spirit-way, burnt
all the paraphernalia used for sacrificing to the spirits.
were now free for new things like learning to read and write, singing and
learning to know the Word of God. This gave new meaning to their lives and they
did not need to smoke opium to cover up their inner emptiness any more. Parents
wanted education for their children and began to look for possibilities to let
their children study, something they had never known. Hostels were built so that
the children could stay there during the week while going to school.
course there are other influences to-day that have an impact on the people. Not
all of these influences are good:
|Children are playing with computergames. Both pictures show children playing a war-game, shooting people.|
TV watching with its aggressive advertising, individual-tourism, the arrival of wholesalers, they all create desires and often the money is lacking to fulfil all these dreams.
Christians in Thailand
history of the Akha christians is fascinating. l954 the first missionaries began
to work among the Akha tribe. Peter and Jean Nightingale from Australia worked
for many years without any sign of fruit. Yaju, an Akha-Evangelist from Burma
came to help the couple in their effort to reach this tribe. l962 the first two
couples decided to go the Jesus way as they had heard from Yaju. So far animism
and spirit worship had been their religion. The three couples were driven out of
the village community and had to start their own christian village on a nearby
hillside. During the next 30 years many families followed their example and now
there are thousands of christians among the Akha. The first two pioneer
missionaries Peter Nightingale and Peter Wyss did not see all the fruit of their
faithful labor as one died from cancer and the other one was killed in the
the Akha church association was formed by the first seven christian villages. It
was called ACT (Akha churches in Thailand). The original group has now expanded
to include fifty-eight Christian villages in Thailand. Chiangrai province is
home to the oldest and most established group of Akha christians.
group leads an Akha worship service every Sunday and oversees the center for the
production of Akha literature. Bibles, hymnbooks, tapes and the Jesus Film in
the Akha language are all available at the Akha Centre.
ACT there are now other Organisation working among the Akha.
Thailand there are only a few villages left where there is no christian
testimony. Many of the Akha Evangelists would like to bring their “brothers
and sisters” in the adjoining countries the good news of Jesus Christ.
read the moving story of the history of Akha Christians in Thailand under
Where are they?
/Hani people are found in 5 countries: Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, North Vietnam
and South-China. The largest number of Akha/Hani are found in South China
- Southern China
- Northern Vietnam
- Northern Laos
- Northern Thailand
Population of Akha-People
Of these 1.8 Million Akha/Hani
only a small percentage are christian. The rest still are in bondage of spirit
oppression and need to hear the Good News of Jesus who can make them free.