on the banks of Syntu Ksiar, alongside the river Myntdu, there is a vast
field known as "Madiah Kmai Blai". At the centre of this field
stands the elegant Kiang Nangbah Monument, a hollow tower-like structure
of typical Jaintia design, erected by the Jaintia people in honour of U
Kiang Nangbah, the Jaintia patriot who died a martyr to the cause of
Jaintia freedom, at the hands of the British rulers.
The field known as Madiah Kmai Blai is itself of historical importance, as it was on this field that a meeting of Jaintia leaders took place during 1861. At the meeting U Kiang Nangbah took oath to lead his people, come what may, in their fight to drive the British out of their land. He was, however, asked whether he could do something to show that they had correctly chosen him as their leader. Kiang Nangbah, looked around, said not a word, but plunged suddenly on that cold wintry night into the depths of Syntu ksiar and emerged moments later with an uprooted little plant from the stem of which three branches spread out.
The Oracles agreed that it was a sign signifying the justice of their cause and the correctness of their choice of U Kiang Nangbah as leader. The meeting gave U Kiang Nangbah mandate to wage war against the British who had, by then, attempted to strangulate the local economy and interfere with the religious and cultural life of the Jaintias. Under his leadership, the Jaintias fought a bitter war of attrition for almost two years against the much superior British military might. Ultimately the British managed to seize Kiang Nangbah by deceit, on 27th December 1862. After a summary trial, they publicly hanged him at Iawmusiang, Jowai on the 30th December 1862. From the scaffold he spoke to his countrymen, loud and clear-
" If my face turns eastwards when I die on the rope,
We shall be free again within a hundred years.
If it turns westwards, we shall be enslaved forever."
The last words of U Kiang Nangbah, the immortal Jaintia Myrtyr proved prophetic. Indeed the dying patriot's face turned eastwards and India became free within hundred years.
The monument at Madiah Kmai Blai is a grateful people's tribute to their immortal martyr.