Tue, 03/28/2017 - 09:38 - 23 Views

March 3, 2017, the occasion of the annual memorial-day celebration - on February 6, 2017 by the Lunar calendar - commemorated the two Trung Sisters. The Gender and Society Research Center (GAS) at Hoa Sen University thereby organized a seminar with the theme: “The Trung Sisters’ Resistance and its Inspiration for Future Generations” which was presented by guest-speaker and Historian Tran Viet Ngac.

The Trung Sisters’ Resistance brought independence to Viet Nam after more than 200 years of the Northern Empire of China’s dominion which had begun in the year 40 A.D. After the Chinese had gone, Ms. Trung Trac, the eldest sister, was proclaimed as the Queen and lovingly renamed by the people as “Trung Vuong”. The Trung Sisters established their royal court in Me Linh, an ancient political center in the “song Hong” (Red River) plain. Although the period of independence was short and lasted for only three years; their victory, however, provided belief and encouragement over the following generations with: Ly Nam De and Ngo Quyen so that they were able to fight for Viet Nam’s independence. The resistance by the Trung Sisters’ was also strong evidence for Vietnamese women’s bravery in the first national resistance against foreign aggression. Therefore, the question, should we take February the Sixth of the Lunar calendar as Viet Nam’s Independence Day?

Historian Tran Viet Ngac

The Trung Sisters’ Resistance had also shed light on three writings of future generations, for instance: Huynh Thuc Khang wrote the drama “Trung Nu Vuong binh ngu lanh”, in which Phan Boi Chau played the role of Thi Sach, Ms. Trung Trac’s husband (Thi in actuality) to entertain the prisoners in the Con Dao prison camp on New Year’s Day; Phan Boi Chau wrote the drama “Trung Nu Vuong” in the Ban Tham Village of Thailand (1911) in order to nurture the spirit of Vietnamese youth; and Nguyen An Ninh wrote the drama “Hai Ba Trung” (1928).

Unlike the first two dramas “Trung Nu Vuong binh ngu lanh” and “Trung Nu Vuong”, the drama “Hai Ba Trung” appeared with “Classical Drama” noted on its cover page; however, it was actually training material internally distributed to the “Thanh nien Cao vong”/ High Aspiration Youth Group to avoid being accused of planning a political revolution. It was observed that it would have been impossible to play this drama due to the length of its conversation. Inside the front cover was written: “First printing: 4,000 copies, numbered 1 to 4,000” with the writer’s signature. However, today only one copy of this drama is available at a French museum and it does not bear Nguyen An Ninh’s signature which proves that the French colonialists may not have seized any original copies from the Thanh nien Cao vong group and in fact they could only have taken a copy from the printing company. The Thanh nien Cao vong group was established at a talk by Nguyen An Ninh with Vietnamese youth about the ideas of building their country following the example of the French revolution, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”. However, Nguyen An Ninh advocated “justice” instead of equality/ égalité and “mutuality” instead of fraternity/ fraternité. The Thanh nien Cao vong group was in operation during the period 1923 – 1929 in Southern Viet Nam.

In his “Hai Ba Trung” drama, Nguyen An Ninh created a fictional character named Ly Dinh, a marshal and Ms. Trung Nhi’s lover. Unfortunately, both of them were killed in the battle with Ma Vien (Ma Yuan), a Chinese general of the Eastern Han dynasty, so that they consequently were not married. Following this event, the character named Trung Trac faded away because she was too depressed due to her husband Thi’s death, while Trung Nhi before her death had always attempted to fight against the invaders and restore the country. It can easily be seen that Nguyen An Ninh conveyed the national spirit to a female character.

As he started to write this fiction, Nguyen An Ninh wondered how to describe the ancient people so he asked a boy with a buffalo herd at the countryside, “Boy, tell me what your great-grandfather looked like?” Then the boy answered that he didn’t even know his grandfather, so how could he then have known his great- grandfather! Therefore, Nguyen An Ninh felt more confident and bold to begin writing his drama. With a soft spoken voice, Trung Nhi assisted Trung Trac, her sorrowful sister who was mourning the loss of her faithful life companion, “When China’s officials killed Thi Sach without the people’s objection; it meant that they killed the Vietnamese people’s spirit as well. That was worth for us to worry about.” Trung Nhi was also clever when she had discussed with her lover, Ly Dinh that “The Chinese were driven out of Viet Nam not because the Vietnamese treasured their freedom but more because the people were very much abused by the Chinese. In case where the people were still able to breath, they surely would not fight.” Then Trung Nhi worried about the period after independence because if the country leaders did not know how to take care of their people, then the good luck period of victory would soon become a bad luck period”.

In general, the “Hai Ba Trung” drama showed Nguyen An Ninh’s progressive thoughts at such an early time of 1928, almost 100 years away from our present era, and when he was only a 28 year-old man. In addition to the presentation of the “Hai Ba Trung” drama - the first two Vietnamese who fought against the Chinese invaders who lived and fought in the 1st century, the seminar was also an occasion to have an-in depth understanding of the Trung Sisters’ Resistance that had nurtured the people’s patriotic and indomitable spirit against the French colonials later on with the works of Huynh Thuc Khang, Phan Chau Trinh, Phan Boi Chau, and especially Nguyen An Ninh.

Brief biography of the guest speaker

Tran Viet Ngac is an Historian working at the Research Department of Hoa Sen University. He was a lecturer and researcher of Modern Viet Nam History at the Hue University of Pedagogy (1967-1982), the Ho Chi Minh City University of Pedagogy (1982 -2008) and visiting lecturer at the Viet Nam Culture Faculty at Hung Vuong University and Lac Hong University. He also had completed an in-depth study on the Can Vuong movement, the Duy Tan/ Modernization movement and revolutionaries in the early 20th century: Phan Boi Chau, Phan Chau Trinh, Huynh Thuc Khang, Tran Quy Cap.

 

 

Translated into English by GAS