The Burmese girl band with a mission
The Me N Ma
Girls come from all parts of the country
and are hitting it big in Burma.
By Citra Dyah Prastuti, Rangoon,
After decades of military dictatorship, Burmese girl band Me N Ma Girls is
taking full advantage of saying – and singing – what they think. The five
young and talented women have hit the international musical scene not just
singing and dancing, but pushing social and political boundaries too.
Me N Ma says it wants to break new ground in Burma’s music scene.
“Before our country’s President changed, we could only write love songs and
sad songs,” explains band member Hitke Hitke.
“Now the laws have changed and we can write songs about politics. The mind
and the eyes are open. We can write and we say everything we like. We have
freedom of speech,” she says.
The band came together in 2010, when Australian dancer Nikki May decided to
help form a Burmese version of the British pop group Spice Girls, and
organised auditions. At the time they were known as “The Tiger Girls” and
only performed cover songs.
Wanting to do produce their own material, they split with their produce last
year and started up Me N Ma Girls with Nikki May as their manager. The
group’s name is a play on words – in English meaning ‘me and my girls’,
which also sounds like the other name for Burma, Myanmar.
Last December they realeased their first album titled “Minga Lar Par” or
“Welcome” in Burmese. The band has captured international media attention
with their performances, but popularity at home is still in its early
“Our skin color is dark. In our country, people like white skin color and
people like beautiful girls. And we’re not beautiful enough!” says Hitke
laughing. “But we can sing beautifully!”
There’s obvioulsy more to these girls than singing and dancing. Hitke Hitke
studied computer science while Cha Cha holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology.
Ah Moon studied Russian, Wai Hnin Khaing is a chemistry graduate and Kimmy
moved from Burma’s poorest Chin state to Rangoon to study mathematics. All
five band members are from different parts of the country and follow
different religions. Ah Moon comes from Kachin state, but she says she wants
to appeal to a broad audience.
“When I write, I feel like all the other girls in the world. When I write a
political song, I feel like the rest of people in Myanmar, not like a Kachin
girl,” she says.
Their new song is called ‘Come Back Home’ – it’s a call to millions of
Burmese who fled to escape military repression and poverty. Ah Moon co-wrote
“Right now there’s freedom of speech and we dared to write about this
freely... We’re just saying that people from abroad should come back home,
where their relatives are, and where the places are needing them,” she says.
Ah Moon already has another song ready for their next album. Called ‘War’,
it criticizes the civil conflict still going on in her home state Kachin.
At the forefront of controversial political issues, it hasn’t been easy for
the band members, all in their early twenties, to convince their families
they can survive just by performing music. But Cha Cha says she decided to
follow what she loved doing.
“At first my parents did not allow me to have this artist life. My father
wants me to become a business woman, but I’m not interested. I love singing
and dancing, so that’s why I choose my way. My dream comes true.. nearly.
Now I want to go to Hollywood with this girlband.”
And it might no longer just a dream. The band has been offered the chance to
record its next album in Los Angeles.
“The international media are focusing on us,” confirms Ah Moon. “As Nikki
our manager says, ‘they believe in you and you have to try hard. If you’re
not successful, what else? The worst thing that could happen is that we go
America to record and come back. You will not lose anything.’”
Me N Ma might be making it big, but off stage they’re just the girls next
door. Cha Cha still has a curfew from her parents to be home before 7 p.m at
night, while Ah Moon’s father is a Christian priest and her mother, Lu Nan,
“There are people who don’t approve of my daughter being a performer, like
some of the people from the church, but my husband, as a reverend, doesn’t
feel the same way,” says Lu Nan.
“We understand Ah Moon’s passion to dance and sing. We don’t want to be
narrow in our attitudes, we want to support her.”
This article was first broadcast on Asia Calling, a regional current affairs
radio program produced by Indonesia’s independent radio news agency KBR68H
and broadcast in local languages in 10 countries across Asia. It is
published in conjunction with the Faculty of Mass Communications, Chiang Mai
University. You can find more stories from Asia Calling at