Health, Society

‘Stay strong, Wuhan’: Song for coronavirus-hit China from Nagas in Manipur

Participants at Manipur’s Lui Ngai Ni music festival sang expressing their solidarity for the Chinese citizens affected in Wuhan, China by CoVID - 19.Participants at Manipur’s Lui Ngai Ni music festival sang expressing their solidarity for the Chinese citizens affected in Wuhan, China by CoVID – 19. 

The song was performed on Saturday at the annual Lui Ngai Ni festival expresses solidarity with coronavirus affected China.

Songs and dances are an integral part of the annual Lui Ngai Ni festival celebrations in Manipur. But this year along with the usual festivities, something very topical and relevant took centre stage.

On Saturday, Manipur’s popular musician Guru Rewben Mashangva took to the stage and performed a song on coronavirus and urged the people of China and Wuhan city, from where the outbreak spread, to stay strong.

The song written two days earlier by lyricist Ngachonmi Chamroy was hurriedly composed by Mashangva and performed in front of an audience of around 3000 at Ukhrul, the venue of the two-day seed-sowing festival celebrated by the Naga tribes of Manipur.

“A friend of mine, Seth Shatsang, called me up on February 13 and suggested we should use the platform of the festival to convey our concern for the suffering neighbours in China. I wrote the song in just 30 minutes,” said Chamroy.

At least 1662 people have now died from the coronavirus outbreak that first emerged in Hubei’s capital, Wuhan, in December and spiralled into a nationwide epidemic. More than 68,000 people have now been infected, with most deaths occurring in Hubei.

More than 580 cases have been confirmed outside mainland China and four deaths, one each in the Philippines, Hong Kong, France and Japan.

The song ‘China, be strong. Be strong Wuhan’, which mentions fear and despair on the empty streets of Wuhan also has lines in Chinese, Tangkhul and Nagamese languages.

“Video of the song has gone viral through social media and we are getting calls from the US, even China and Tangkhul friends from all over. Some are saying that the festival has been overshadowed by the song,” said Chamroy.

Shatsang, who gave the idea for the song, was also crucial in getting permission from United Naga Council (UNC), the organisers of the festival, to include it as a last-minute entry in the programme list.

“Idea about the song came from the heart. The disease has separated families in Wuhan and people are going through difficult times. As human beings, it is the right time to show our solidarity as it can happen anywhere,” said Shatsang, a former president of All Naga Students Association, Manipur (ANSAM).

While the song was written in a jiffy, Guru Rewben Mashangva also had to hurry with composing the music as there was not much time available to prepare ahead of Saturday’s event.

“I got the lyrics on the morning of February 13. I composed the music the next day and since I had no knowledge of the Chinese words, I took help from my children who used their phones to get the right pronunciation. The music was arranged on the night of February 14,” said Mashangva.

While Mashangva was performing the song, several of those present held placards saying ‘Stay strong Wuhan, we are with you’.

“The response from the audience to the song was very good. Later this month, the Tangkhul Music Association has decided to organise a show particularly highlighting coronavirus at Ukhrul,” said Milan Shimray, general secretary, UNC.

Mashangva and Chamroy are planning to do a proper recording of the song along with a video in the next few days and release it to a wider audience so that the message of solidarity can spread further.

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