Thursday, November 17, 2011

Win Ko Khaing: Arakanese patriot and singer

Chiang Mai – Mizzima correspondent Phanida interviews Arakanese singer Win Ko Khaing, 42, a singer and composer of Arakanese nationalistic songs.


Singer Win Ko Khaing
Singer Win Ko Khaing.
Question: Your stage name is Win Ko Khaing? What is your real name?

Answer: I don’t have any other name. My real name is also Win Ko Khaing. Win Ko Khaing (Aryan). Aryan refers to Aryan People. I usually sing Arakanese songs. I also compose songs. And I write poems. They are ordinary poems, not political poems. The songs are love songs and Arakanese nationalistic songs.

Question: You wrote songs for the late Burmese singer Htoo Ein Thin.

Answer: In 1994, I composed some songs. My friends sold the songs to his friends. The song, “The [North] Pole Fire,” is mine. It was released in 1994.

Question: What is your native town? Please tell us about your childhood.

Answer: My native town is Khayai village, Taunggok Township in Arakan State. Until the grade seven, I attended schools in Kamhtawkyun village, on the opposite bank of the Khayai village. It was the village’s custom to play Burmese drums, the flute and the mandolin.

In grade 8, I attended school in Taunggok. I played guitar in Taunggok. In 1983, I did some “stereo songs.” At that time, I sung Twante Thein Tan’s Burmese country songs such as “Musical Sound” and “A small sun-glass.”

In Burma’s “stereo song era” in 1983, in Taunggok, I used to play guitar and sing the songs of Khine Htoo, Sai Htee Sai and Hlwan Moe. I passed my matriculation exam in 1985 at Taunggok High School. I attended Sittwe College in 1986-1987. My major was Burmese language.

There was the public uprising in 1988. At that time, we performed stage shows. I talked about music with my friends from Sittwe. At that time, they were modern, so I learned many things about music from them. But, I was not an Arakanese singer at that time. Burmese songs were popular then. The Arakanese musical community was not developed at that time. After the uprising, I lived in Thantwe in 1989. My friends and I formed the United Star music band. I played lead guitars in the band in Thantwe from 1989 until 1991. In Thantwe, we performed government shows and we entertained disabled soldiers who were in rehabilitation centers in Thantwe.

I worked for three years in the rehabilitation center for the soldiers. When UN diplomats visited there, we entertained them on Ngapali beach.

Question: How did you become a singer?

Answer: In 1994, Arakanese students from Rangoon University held a respect ceremony for Arakanese professors. The secretary of the organizing committee was my friend. My friends urged me to compose an Arakanese song to sing and sing at the ceremony. I had not written any Arakanese song. I composed only Burmese songs and sold them. So, I wrote an Arakanese song, “Return home with Presents.” I sang the song at the ceremony. An Arakanese man named Hla Myint who is a publisher of Arakanese literature watched the show. He liked that song. So, he offered to release a music album. He produced my debut music album “Solo Star,” and I entered into the Arakanese music community.  

Question: How many music albums have you released?

Answer: “Return home with presents,” “Longing for home and my sea.” Mostly, I sang on group music albums. I released six or seven solo albums. I think a total of 20 albums have been released.

Question: Which album is your favorite?

Answer: I like all of them. But the album I like the most is “Arakkha Land.” That is a Pali word. In the Burmese language, it means “Rakhine (Arakanese) Land.” Arakkha means “looking after.” The album was released in 2010. Audiences like the album very much. The producer said 8,000 copies had been sold. In late 2010, we, Arakanese singers, released a group album, “The Sounds of Horses Hooves (1).” This year, part two was released. It was released just three weeks ago. The producer said about 10,000 copies had been sold.

Question: When did you move to Rangoon?

Answer: I moved to Rangoon in 1991 to attend an honours class (Burmese Language). Now I live in Tammway Township. My father and mother also live in Tammway. Than Shwe and Thaung Khin. They are Arakanese.

Question: What are the themes of you Arakanese songs?

Answer: Now, I seldom write love songs. I mostly compose and sing nationalistic songs. “Arrakkha Land,” “Mahanwe” and “Sound of Horses Hooves (1)” are nationalistic songs. The songs urge people to preserve our race and to preserve our religion. Those are the main themes. Arakanese people like those songs very much. They are different than people of other races. The difference is that they are more interested about their race. They prefer those songs. And I put wisdom in the songs. I’m trying to instill pride in own race.

Question: Before you became a singer, what was your ambition?

Answer: I wanted to be a saint because I don’t like suffering. I like purity. I want to be perfect. I want to be a peaceful person. I want to have wisdom. I don’t want to be rich.

Question: What is your opinion about Burma’s political and social affairs, especially the conditions in Arakan State?

Answer: Arakan State hasn’t changed. It’s the same as before. The conditions have not changed. I think they are trying to change.

Question: Did you take part in politics?

Answer: No, I didn’t take part. The only thing I want to do is sing. There is nothing in my life that I like as much as composing songs and singing.

Question: What is your ambition regarding music?

Answer: I would like to nurture some people to instill great music composing qualities and singing qualities. That is my ambition.

Question: Presently, what are you working on?

Answer: I have stopped stage shows in Arakan State for a while. I plan to go to Malaysia within a month. And I have stopped stage shows in Rangoon for a while too. I just release music albums. I’ve stopped stage shows for a short time because I have to work on the albums.
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