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About Kadayan ... part 5

Written By kadayan chronicles on Wednesday, 8 February 2006 | 10:57

Written by Amde sidik

Kadayan’s closest neighbour

(Read Amde's biography HERE)

Brunei1 is Kadayan’s closest neighbour, not just physically. They shared many cultural and ritual aspects. But it is religion that brought them to closer still. Both of them practice Islam for centuries no one can really tell precisely when and how it all started.

However, Islam was only recorded officially in Brunei history beginning with the reign of Alak Batatar who converted to Muslim 1363 and inaugurated as the first Sultan named Sultan Muhammad until 1402. If the author2 is right then, the other indigenous are no less in status by origin.

See here Kadayan ladies pounching padi-ngamping.
One of Kadayan’s rituals normally held after harvesting padi

People in Sabah and Sarawak called people from Brunei simply the Brunei by their country’s name but only if they are of Brunei Malay. It does not apply for other ethnics like Dusun, Bisaya or Kadayan alike. A friend of mine from Brunei recently was surprised to know how they are called from outside their country.

In other words, other local Muslims aren’t entitled to become Malay, for example, the Kadayan, Tutung and Belait. They were instead called by their ethnics.

Why am I saying this?

Nothing sinister and nothing envious either, it is just something crop up in my studies over the years, which I hope to finding the answer. I wouldn’t even like to guess what’s behind it. Because in Sabah as far as we know, any ethnic that practices Islamic religion would likely to be called Malay. However, most still prefer to be identified by their own ethnics for example Bajau, Tidung, Kadayan, Bisaya or even Brunei. In order words, being Malay is not a big deal.

Come back to the topic, the different between Kadayan and Brunei. In fact, there is very little physical appearance to differentiate the two. Many years ago what I could recall is, some Bruneis looked darker, this was because they were fishermen and the Kadayan looked pale white, because they were rubber tapers, while the brownish ones must be padi planters.

Today none of this complexion has any bearing to their ethnic’s origin. No one is more fisherman or more rubber tapers by the colour of his or her skin.

This is how the ethnics are identified in Brunei:

“This estimate includes all people residing in Brunei Darussalam. Malay, which also included Brunei Indigenous communities of Malay, Kedayan, Tutong, Belait,

Bisaya, Dusun and Murut…”
“Malay, Kedayan, Tutong, Belait, Bisaya, Dusun, Murut 66.3%”.

Below are examples of the most common statement about Kadayan by earlier Brunei’s writers.

“They were originated from Java. They came to Brunei during the reign of Sultan Bolkiah”* “Very little has been written about the Kedayan in any language, always called Kedayan…Muslim people who do not share the same descent and ancestry as the Brunei”
PM Sharifuddin, Brunei Museum Journal, 1969 volume 1, no 1

*Sultan Bolkiah reign was between 1485-1524. If Kadayan’s existent began at this time, it wouldn’t be that difficult to see traces of Javaneseness in Kadayan today-Amde

My view is, those differences were past, irrelevant for real life of today. It isn’t just in this region, it’s a global phenomena.

However, culture is my keen topic, which is slowly but surely slapping away. Wonder how and what would our next generation look like without culture of their own one day.


1People from Brunei if they are Brunei Malay is always identified as Brunei/s. it means the people

2Tarsilah Brunei, Mohd Jamil Al Sufri,1991

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