Maipak Namrijinang Inka: The First Inpui (Kabui) Christian Convert

MAIPAK Namrijinang Inka, also known as Bangeinangba Inka, holds a significant place in the history of the Inpui (Kabui) tribe, recognized as one of the oldest indigenous communities in Manipur. Inpui (Kabui) people have been an integral part of Manipur since ancient times, their presence in the region dating back to the very inception of Manipur itself. References to the tribe are documented in the Royal Chronicles of Manipur and in records maintained by British administrators and anthropologists. When Christianity found its way into the region, a few members of both tribal and Meitei communities embraced this religion despite facing resistance and ostracization from within their own communities for diverging from tradition.

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Image 1: Deserted Bakuwa (Khokiu) Village Settlement (Source: Bakuwa Village/INBCA)

Image 2: Deserted Bakuwa (Khokiu) Village Settlement (Source: Bakuwa Village/INBCA)

Image 3: Stones indicating the residence at deserted Bakuwa (Khokiu) Village (Source: Bakuwa Village/INBCA)

Image 4: ELBAM Commemoration Monument, see the red circle

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Maipak Namrijinang Inka, a dedicated Inpui (Kabui) individual who served the Maharaja of Manipur as a cobbler and carpenter, emerged as one of the pioneers of Christianity in the region. The Manipur Baptist Convention (MBC) also acknowledges and records his role in the history of Christian evangelization in Manipur.

Maipak Namrijinang Inka was born in Bakuwa (Khokiu), a now-deserted village in the Haochong Sub-Division, Noney District (earlier under Tamenglong District), Manipur. The village, which was earlier deserted, was re-established at a different location within the jurisdiction of the former Bakuwa village on March 8, 1994, with the inauguration conducted by Abuiba, Vice President of Zeliangrong Union.

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In recognition of Maipak Namrijinang Inka as the first Christian convert amongst the Inpui in 1914 and his efforts in spreading Christianity, the Inpui (Kabui) tribe celebrated the Christian Centenary Celebration on December 6–8, 2014, at Bakuwa village. During the event, Maipak Namrijinang’s grandson, Panti Inka (also known as Panti Kamei), ceremoniously lit the centenary flame, symbolizing the commencement of the celebration. The ceremonial flame was sourced from Phungyo Baptist Church, recognized as the first church in Manipur, located in Ukhrul District and subsequently transported to Bakuwa Baptist Church.

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Maipak Namrijinang Inka holds a unique position as a Christian pioneer among the Inpui and Zeliangrong tribes. While the Inpui tribe has no objection to the Zeliangrong kindred tribes in Manipur considering his conversion as the birth of Christianity in their community, it is, however, crucial to emphasize that Maipak Namrijinang Inka is unequivocally an Inpui (Kabui) tribesman. In this regard, we strongly oppose the manipulation of historical facts for self-serving purposes, evident in the way the Rongmei Naga Baptist Association (RNBA) celebrated its centenary of Christianity in 2014 by claiming Maipak as Rongmei. This concern is further underscored by the current intention of the Eastern Liangmei Baptist Association, Manipur (ELBAM) to mark its 109 Years of Liangmei Christianity Celebration on December 6, 2023, while asserting that the respected pioneer Maipak Namrijinang Inka belongs to the Liangmei community.

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This distortion of history is unwarranted, and leaders of the Eastern Liangmei Baptist Association, Manipur (ELBAM) and the Organizing Committee for the 109 Years of Liangmei Christianity Celebration are requested to reflect and address this issue prudently. In this regard, the inscriptions on the Commemoration Monument, which currently designate Maipak Namrijinang Inka as Liangmei, need rectification. Furthermore, it is essential to ensure that the four kindred tribes are acknowledged and presented with equal importance and recognition in all historical writings and documentation. This clarification is necessitated to dispel any confusion and ensure that there is no subsequent misrepresentation or historical appropriation in the future.

(By Inpui Naga Baptist Churches Association. Published date November 14, 2023)

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