I mentioned a while back that I’ve noticed a sort of cultural Renaissance within the Borneo identity and culture in the recent decade. People are taking an interest in culture and history (that’s probably why you’re reading this blog), wearing their cultural pride on their sleeves (and on their cars). Which is great. Every culture is beautiful. Our indigenous culture is exquisite.
How many of you can actually speak your indigenous tongue?
I’m asking this because I believe that oral communication is an intrinsic human behavior. By speaking a language, we thus learn about that culture’s worldview. How ironic is it to spout about upholding your culture’s pride, when you can barely speak it?
Too many of us millennials are proud of the superficial aspect of culture. The costume, the sape’, the dance, the drinking, Gawai. Yet the most basic part of it, many don’t, cannot or can’t be bothered to master. The power of language opens up so many doors to the world around us. It’s like how the Inuit and Yupik have 50 words for snow. The Bidayuh differentiates baru’ (uncooked rice grains) and sungkoi (cooked rice). By gaining fluency in a language, you begin understanding ritualistic terms, geographical locations, cultural identifiers, etymologies, evolution of identity. You even begin to learn how much of your culture and language has become subsumed by a another. So, so much.
I applaud those of you who make an effort to learn. The pursuit of knowledge is an admirable thing.
But to those who say “I’M A PROUD BORNEAN (insert ethnicity)” yet speaks none of her local tongues, well, shame on you.
That’s what I call, penunggang budaya.