Introduction / History
Approximately 1,500 members of the Kantu ethnic group live in an extremely remote part of Laos. The Kantu inhabit a number of villages in the Samouay District of Saravan Province, among mountains that form the Laos-Vietnam border. The majority of Kantu live in Vietnam, where they are part of the official Ta Oi ethnic minority.
The Kantu are not the same as the Katu, who live to the southeast of the Kantu. People from the two groups cannot understand each other, although the languages are related. The Kantu in Laos are also distinct from the Kanay (also known as Kado) who live in the same area. The Kanay language is part of the Bru branch of Mon-Khmer.
The Kantu have a reputation as one of the most isolated and inward-looking groups in Laos. They rarely have contact with outsiders, preferring to be left alone in their own communities. They are one of the few tribes in southern Laos adept at the art of weaving.
After a long day in the field, the Kantu love to come together and relax with singing and dancing. Traditional songs, called oat, express the joys and sorrows of the Kantu. They sing of the struggles their forefathers endured and the oppression and hostility they have faced from other ethnic groups who desired to take them as slaves.
When a young man desires to be married, a go-between is arranged to approach the family of the young woman who has caught his attention. Kantu society is strongly matriarchal. Women rule the community and no decision is made without their consideration.
Animism reigns among the Kantu. They are deeply bound by fear to the spirit world. Sprit-houses are constructed on the outskirts of every village. The Kantu pray to numerous gods, ghosts and deities for the protection and blessing of their communities, harvests and animals. Many ceremonies are held where animals are sacrificed. It is reported the Kantu were still involved in human sacrifices until recently.
The Kantu are shut off from the Gospel. The few efforts that have been made to reach them in either Vietnam or Laos (mostly by Bru Christians) have invariably met with violent opposition.
* Ask God to break down the Kantu's wall of resistance against the Gospel.
* Pray that many Kantu would come out of darkness and into Christ's wonderful light.
|Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway Copyrighted © Used with permission|