Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway
The Kucong are also known as the Yellow Lahu, or Lahu Shi and have been officially included as part of the Lahu in China since 1987. Before that time they were included in a list of Undetermined Minorities. The Kucong have lived in dire poverty for generations. "Their lives were primitive, like wild animals, until they were discovered in the virgin jungles by their civilized compatriots about twenty years ago, when they were on the verge of extinction."
Between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries the Lahu had strong leadership in their wars of resistance against their Han and Tai rulers. Not until an irretrievable defeat in 1799 did they begin to collapse. This defeat caused the Lahu to flee into the mountains; from that point on they fragmented as a people. The Black Lahu claim to be pure Lahu and express contempt for the Kucong for having surrendered to the Qing army in the combat of the last century. Since that time the Kucong have been hated and oppressed by all other Lahu. "Many of the Kucong died, not just from starvation, but attacked also by wild animals and disease. Between 1947 and 1949 alone, a third of the village population succumbed."
The autumn harvest provides Kucong families with a small amount of grain for the year. Their meals are supplemented by wild berries and herbs and with any birds or animals that can be caught. All Kucong women have their heads shaven. "When they go into town they wear hats, embarrassed the people of other minorities will mock them for their baldness."
The Kucong are primarily Theravada Buddhists, in comparison to the majority of Lahu who are either animists or Christians. In the past, Christianity was not able to spread from the Lahu to the Kucong because of the many prejudices between the two groups.
Although there are fewer believers among the Kucong than among the Lahu, H. A. Baker - the great Pentecostal missionary - left a spiritual legacy at a Kucong village called Stony Stockade in an untraversed mountain ridge in Mojiang County. "The whole village of 29 households were converted after hearing Baker's fiery preaching, and they have earnestly adhered to the faith until this day. Right up to the present, the old inhabitants still enjoy very much recounting to visitors, vividly and nostalgically, anecdotes of 'Ben Mooshi' (Pastor Baker)."