Kadazan: Centuries Old Name




'Siung' or hat made from bamboo called 'poing'

Who are the Kadazan people?

There is evidence that show that groups from among these native people had used THIS NAME centuries ago.

Owen Rutter, in his book "The Pagan Tribes of North Borneo", published in 1929, wrote:

    "“The Dusun usually describes himself generically as a tulun tindal (landsman) or, on the West Coast, particularly at Papar, as a Kadazan.” (page 31)"

However, most of the white people, particulary the British, took the easy way out by using the name "Dusun" that was used by the Bruneis to call the natives. The colonial officials did not find it convenient in verifying the actual name these people used to call themselves.

Elements that deny that Kadazan(dusuns) were the First Nation

There are now elements that try to deny that some other race lived in this place before the Kadazan(dusuns). What objectives these people have only time will reveal. It suffices at the moment that honest people know that Kadazan(dusuns) had always been here.

The Natives of Penampang
It has been restated that the non-Muslim natives of Papar had always called themselves by this name and that the Penampang natives actually belong to the "Tangaa" tribe.

As far back as the 1890s, some Europeans Christian missionaries who came to Borneo had noted that the natives of Putatan spoke a language that they referred to as "the Putatan language." Surely, they were referring to the language spoken by the Tangaa tribe. There is no other explanation since it was clear they were not referring to the Bajau people.

There are references indicating that on the west coast of North Borneo, in an area stretching from Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu) to Papar, there were two tribes, the first being Kadazan and the second, Tangaa. Some knowledgeable elders talk about two different ritual incantations chanted by priests and priestesses of the former animistic religion. It is said that the incantations or "Inait" of the former were more powerful.

Whatever happened through hundreds of years, the Papar language and the Putatan "Tangaa" language merged and became one.

The Penampang natives adopted the name used by their brothers and sisters from Papar. After all, both tribes are descended from Tomui the youngest son of Aki Maragang. The native people of Penampang registered themselves and their children with the Registrar of births and deaths as "Kadazans." (It is noted that many natives from Tambunan also did this.)

Differences Between the Two Versions of the Language
There are different words between the the Papar language and the (Putatan) "Tangaa" Language. For example, Penampang call banana "punti" while in Papar, banana is called "dudunguh". "Tingau" which means cat in the Tangaa language is "Izing" to the Paparians.

The Papar language was also influenced by other languages such as English. Papar still use the English words "kettle" and "basin", for example. This was due to the influence of Australian soldiers who put up camp at Papar when they arrived during the liberation of Borneo from the Japanese.

In the meantime, the other descendants of Aki Maragang who continued to use the name "Dusun" spoke a language now referred to as the "Bundu-Liwan" language.

(Some have put forward the argument that "Dusun" is not the name of a people but the name of the place where these people live, namely, agricultural lands which they planted with rice, topioca, sweet potatoes, sago, yams, and so on. It was the place where they foraged for a living.)

(If you ask some elderly Bajaus from Putatan, they may tell you that their people used to call the so-called Dusuns "Idaan." So, it was not "Dusun."The people who owned the Gumantung caves at Lahad Datu call themselves "Idahan" and classify themselves as belonging to this group of people.)

Rise of Nationlistic Ideals
The rise of nationalism in the 1950s spurred the use of the name. This was the name used when naming organizations, associations, and groups, both formal and informal.

You may have heard of or read about UNKO, UPKO, KCA, KKKS, KDCA, and KLF. Only KDCA bears a reference to "Dusun" indicated by the alphabet "D".

As the result of the British proposal to forge closer relations between the four Bornean regions of Kalimantan, Sarawak, North Borneo and Brunei sometime in the 1950s or very early 1960s, the feeling of nationalism among these people began to move them to find common understanding and to unite. Now, some leaders and inhabitants of Borneo look forward to cooperation between the different regions in the near future.


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Unity Initiatives
Since the time of UNKO and Pasok Momogun, then as the merged UPKO, this group of native people never ceased to find ways in becoming one united people. Their leaders knew right from the start that their strength can only come from unity in mind and heart and a common purpose.

When Tun Fuad Stephens, then Donald Stephens, became the first Chief Minister of Sabah, and the first "Huguan Siou", the various native groups were motivated to unite. The talented Peter Joinod Mojuntin, his protege, was tireless in helping to bring about a more united people with a sense of pride in their very own identity.

With the dissolution of UPKO in the early days of Sabah independence, these native people were left adrift. In 1976, Berjaya under the leadership of Tun Fuad Stephens won the Sabah election and formed the Sabah government. Their spirits and hope soared once again. However, on June 6, 1976, prominent leaders perished in the Triple Six plan crash. This was the darkest hour in the history of their people.

The three prominent leaders who lost their lives during that fateful day were Tun Fuad Stephens, Datuk Peter Mojuntin and Datuk Darius Binion. Their people were left in limbo for ten years.

The position of these people again started to improve when PBS (Parti Bersatu Sabah or Sabah United Party, led by Joseph Pairin Kitingan, won the election and formed the Sabah government in 1986. With Pairin Kitingan as the Chief Minister, these people looked forward to a brighter and more hopeful future. Pairin was later installed as the second Huguan Siou, strengthening his position as their paramount leader.

However, this unity was shattered when certain events led to the splintering of PBS. Two of the three groups led respectively by Bernard Dompok from Penampang and Joseph Kurup from Keningau broke away from PBS.

Even with these sad and undesirable developments, the leaders never ceased to work hard to unite their people.

Unfortunately, some among these people, including professionals, do not believe or are not convinced that unity is of paramount importance.

You are Wanted! Every Kadazan Man and Woman! And Children, too.

YOU - every man and woman, every youth and child - are needed to contribute in bringing about a better understanding between members of your people wherever you are with the great hope that some day soon your people will again unite for the good of all. Unity among people including the Kadazans is good for Sabah and the country.

Your people need you. Sabah needs you. Your country needs you.

Appreciate and make good use of your God-given talents.

Click HERE for information on "Who is a native?"

Pobpiumanan ko (You are being expected)





UNKO: United National Kadazan Organisation
UPKO: United Pasok-Momogun-Kadazan Organisation
KCA: Kadazan Cultural Association
KKKS: Koisaan Koubasanan Kadazan Sabah
KDCA: Kadazan-Dusun Cultural Association
KLF: Kadazan_(Dusun) Language foundation
KKS: Koisaan Kadazan Sabah


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