Sao Noan Oo or Nel Adams, born 1931 - the life story of a Shan princess - episode 1

Sao Noan Oo was born in 1931 in Shan State as a princess, being the daughter of the Sawbwa or Sao Hpa of Lawksawk, a state in the Federated Shan States or Mong Tai ; an area of approximately 62,000 square miles occupying a quarter of Burma, Before the military coup in 1962, the Shan State was divided into thirty-three and each area (also called a state or mong), had a number of towns and villages; the main town in each state carrying the same name. The Sawbwas were hereditary princes, one of whom ruled each of the thirty-three states. The Burmans, and later the British used this title which was a corrupt pronunciation of the Shan title, 'Sao Hpa', meaning ' Lord of the Sky'. When the British had advanced into Burma in 1886, the Sawbwas, not only willingly accepted the British administration, but some of them, like her grand-father who was then heir to the sawbwaship, joined the British army to overthrow the last of the Burmese Kings. Once in complete control, the British Government applied direct rule over Central Burma, where the majority of the population were Burmans. The Shan State and the other 'Hill States' Kachin, Chin and Karenni were allowed to remain autonomous. Thus, although geographically in Burma, the Shan State was politically independent of Burma until 1948.   The situation for the Shan changed dramatically after the coup by General Ne Win in 1962 and many Shan princes and leaders were killed, jailed or fled abroad.Sao Noan Oo was studying in England at the time of the 1962 coup and her scholarship was cancelled.   Given what happened to her family and other Shan families she has never returned to Myanmar but has tirelessly fought for the rights of the Shan people.  She married an Englishman and is known by most people these days as Nel Adams.Nel has written her life story entitled "My Vanished World".  The book is currently out of print but some second hand copies can be found in ebook sites like Amazon - has also written a history of the Tai (or Shan) people which is available at Amazon - the episodes covering her life, various sections of My Vanished World will be read.  In this first episode I will read the first chapter explaining the history and social customs of the Shan and I hope in subsequent episodes Nel and others will read key parts of her book.Please feel free to contact me with suggested interviewees at [email protected] you for listening .Peter Church

Om Podcasten

Oral histories of Myanmar - life stories; some starting as far back as the late 1920’s.From my years of involvement in Myanmar I have become aware of the increasing scarcity of the generation of Myanma citizens who were born during the colonial period and have lived through the tumultuous years since that time. For me, these men and women are "national treasures" whose experience, perseverance and wisdom gained during their long lives will be lost unless we capture their stories in some way. To this end I have decided to interview a number of these elderly citizens. My hope is that these interviews will be of interest to historians, sociologists and other researchers in the future as well as for the family and friends of those interviewed.