It had always been a distinction between the Kadayan and Brunai1 in the olden days. The most obvious, Kadayan was called as orang darat or orang bukit –people on land or people who live on the hills.
Kadayan built their houses on land, when I say on land, it means on the main land likewise, other ethnics like the Murut, Kalabit and Kenyah alike, preferred to go further, or deep in the interior or on the foot of mountains. They too called orang darat.
Kadayan were in a way very conscious about their connection with town people. Towns were the main source of inspiration not only for economic development but also a source of mental progress, since progressed people usually lived in town, for example, the district administrators and government officials.
Many years ago very few Kadayan had opportunity to work in government offices not even a pion –office boy.
One single most important infrastructure for Kadayan community was rivers. They were the main transporting system to enable them moving about.
Kadayan used their gubang –boat built from one piece of dug out timber log. This is quite different from Brunai’perahu-boat, which was built by joined planks.
Kadayan used gubang to transport their produce to down town. Most of the towns were situated along the rivers, river ports or coastal areas.
Kadayan were known for their industrious in agriculture- planting padi, fruits trees and rubber. Before currency was introduced most transactions were in the form of barter trading. For example, rice, vegetable, fruits and spices were traded in exchanged for utensils, carpentry tools, and domestic appliances.
The Brunei’s built their houses at the very edge of the sea or at the river mouth and on water as in the picture above, unlike Kadayan their main livelihood were fishing. However, I have not read much written materials on this subject but in my mind, I am quite sure that I am correct in saying, because many of my Brunai relatives were fishermen that I knew of.
Below is a statement by a western lady writer:
"The Kadayan are found on the shores of Brunei Bay, in Btirish North Borneo. These are small tribe, and are of Brunei origin. Next to Dusuns, they are the most industrious natives in Borneo..."
Elizabeth Mershon, With the wild men of Borneo,1999
I am taken a back by the above statement, looking at Kadayan today, if it were true, Kadayan needs only little teaching, in particular in utilising their land. I am not sure if its also meant Kadayan were richer than Brunai.If its true, it could probably because Kadayan had more land than Brunai. This is only logical because Kadayan lived on land whilst Brunai lived on water. One can also say Brunai had more water than Kadayan
Until today one can still see that Brunai live in water village.
When I was a kid visiting my aunties-my mother’s sisters, staying overnight in their house was really an amusement to me especially, during high tight and hearing the sound of waves was something akin to the sound of cars on the mainland today.
(Read Amde's biography HERE)
1The people of Brunei by origin- the race