Introduction / History Approximately 5,000 Nutchi Akha live in Phongsali Province of northern Laos. They live at the juncture of three districts: Samphan, Boun-Tai and Boun-Nua. The Nutchi Akha are also found in neighboring Yunnan Province in China, and possibly also in Myanmar.
Courting and marriage customs vary slightly among the different Akha groups, but most Akha villages have a 'village courting ground' (deh k'ah). Girls sing and dance around a fire while the boys look on. If any of the girls takes the fancy of a boy, they may slip into the forest where they spend the night together. Parents approach each other if two Akha youth signal their intentions to marry. If the two fathers come to an agreement, they seal the marriage by drinking liquor together. Paul and Elaine Lewis explain, "Each of them puts up an agreed amount of money, preferably in silver rupees, which is held by a neutral party to ensure that each side will honor the agreement. If one side backs out, that father loses his bond. If the young people marry as arranged, or if both parties agree to cancel the engagement, each side takes back its money."
When the wedding day finally comes, the girl is "taken to the groom's house by one of his older male relatives.... Before entering the house, the bride changes into a white skirt which she wears throughout the ceremony. Her headdress is removed and handed, together with her black skirt, to a younger girl who serves as her helper.... The wedding feast, an integral part of the ceremony, lasts for two days, for which at least one pig is butchered.... During the feast young people take soot from the bottom of the cooking pots and wipe it on the faces of the bride, the groom, and some of the guests. This is thought to bring 'good luck' to those receiving it."
In recent years one Christian ministry has produced picture books for the Akha, with pictures of Bible stories. The book is accompanied by an audio cassette in the Akha language, explaining the Gospel. This has caused great excitement among the Akha, who are nearly all illiterate.
Some Akha have listened to the tapes numerous times, and in one location they sought out Christians to come and explain the meaning to them.
Prayer Points * Pray for a spiritual breakthrough among the Nutchi Akha.
* Pray many would soon understand the Gospel.
* Ask God to reflect His glory and purity among redeemed Nutchi Akha.
* Pray that thousands of the 'wordless books' would bear much fruit among the Akha of Laos.