The Kadazan Search for Identity

The Kadazan search for identity is still very much an on-going event. KadazanHomeland hopes to contribute in bringing about awareness of the importance of preserving your and your family's identity as being that of a Kadazan.

What is Identity?
Before explaining further the search for identity by the Kadazan people, it is good to have some understanding of what constitute identity.

Identity shows that a particular group of people belongs to a certain ethnic or racial group. It must indicate absolute sameness. If not, you are not sure whether that person belongs to a distinct race or not.

The online Free Dictionary defines identity as "The set of behavioral or personal characteristics by which an individual is recognizable as a member of a group."

According to Horowitz (1985), ethnic groups are "differentiated by color, language, and religion..."

In the case of a Kadazan, you may look for certain characteristics that can clearly show that a certain person is or is not a Kadazan. The identity is the result of thousand of years of Kadazan history.

Being Proud of Being a Kadazan is not Being Racist
There is nothing wrong in feeling proud of being a member of the Kadazan race. It is not wrong for a Kadazan to have strong feelings and belief in the importance of belonging to the Kadazan ethnic group.

Many other races in the world aspire for recognition as a distinct group of people. They, too, are searching for identity. Many more racial groups are still searching for their very own identity.

The Kadazan search for identity means that they are being true to their heritage as a distinct people. Kadazans are not being racists as long as they do not feel superior to other people and or discriminate against them.

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Importance of keeping Alive the Kadazan Search for Identity

The majority of Kadazans believe and feel strongly that preserving their identity is of paramount importance. Only by discovering their true identity can make them feel comfortable and at ease when contributing to the progress of society in general, and to nation building.

Some positive effects of racial identity include positive self-esteem, self-respect, confidence, sense of worth, entitlement and goals.

There is this survey released on November 19, 2004, introduced as,

    "Race and racial identity can help build healthy and just communities, according to an MIT report released today.

According to a recent study (2011) led by Michigan State University's psychology researchers, it was found that:

    African American people who identify more strongly with their racial identity are generally happier."

Role of Future Generations of Kadazans in Preserving Identity
Language is the strongest indicator of a person's racial identity. It is not just one of the indicators of identity. It is the foremost indicator.

In the past some Kadazan leaders encouraged parents to communicate with their children in the Kadazan language. They remind Kadazans from time to time that they need to speak in Kadazan. This is the most effective way of preserving the language. And thus preservation of identity. Today, there are very few leaders who promote the usage of the language at home.

The Kadazan search for identity is in vain if the young fail to appreciate their uniqueness as Kadazans. There are many adult Kadazans who keep encouraging Kadazan youth and children to learn the language. They are concerned that the lack of interest among young Kadazans in the Kadazan language spells disaster for the race.

Whether you realise it or not, the preservation of Kadazan identity rests on the shoulders of both present and future generations of Kadazans. The blame game needs to stop now. Every Kadazan needs act now.

If the Kadazan lose their identity, there is nothing to fight for in the future. They would simply cease to exist as a distinct race.

Some Indicators of Kadazan Identity
You may agree or not agree that the following identify a certain person as being a Kadazan.

  1. Ability to speak and understand the Kadazan Language
  2. Physical features and characteristics
  3. Tradition, for example, the giving of "sogit" as peace offering
  4. Food such as 'pinaasakan' (boiled fish), 'hinava' (raw fish mixed with lime, ginger, etc) and 'nonsom' (pickled fish, meat or vegetables) and drinks including alcoholic drinks such as "lihing" (hiing, rice wine), "kinomol" (rice wine) and "talak" (alcohol distilled from 'kinomol/nasih')
  5. Traditional music such as that made by "sompoton", songs such as "humius" and dance such as "sumazau"
  6. Place of residence, that is, certain specific areas in Sabah
  7. Method of planting, harvesting and threshing rice (especially in the old days)
  8. Spirit of "mitabang" or teamwork
  9. Reverence for Mount Kinabalu (Nuluhon Nabalu)
  10. (Possibly) a member of KDCA
  11. (Most probably) a Christian or an animist

Criteria Number 1 is of prime importance. Thus, the requirement for every Kadazan, young, old and children to speak and understand the Kadazan Language.

The realization that the Kadazan search for identity is important is a step in the right direction. May every Kadazan come aboard to make this effort a success.

Calling Every Kadazan to Come Home
Whoever you are, whatever your station in life, whatever you age or gender, wherever you stay, come home to your own people.

Come back. Contribute to the Kadazan search for identity and its preservation by proudly speaking in your own mother tongue. If you are not so good in pronunciation, that is, "nabati" or cannot utter even one word in Kadazan, you can learn it. No one can, and no one must not, belittle your efforts in becoming more "Kadazan" than before.

Come back. Come home.

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