I'm a third generation Dusun...sort of?

Recently, i had to come up with writing a non-fiction script for my TV writing class assignment. The topic we were given was to write up an interesting story of someone over 60 years old from my family or someone of that generation. So i decided to write up a story on my family specifically my mom's side as i realised now how unique her culture is.

As much as i dreaded this TV writing assignment, during the process of doing this i got my sister back home to dig up old family pictures of both my mom and my dad and upon looking at the picture of my mom's family, it hit a soft spot inside of me seeing how she looked like when she was younger. The part that i love the most about my mom's family portrait was my grandparents. Within a glance of the picture itself, one can easily sense that there is a strong cultural history behind this image.

My late grandparents with my mom and her siblings. 

If you didn't know, my grandmother from my mom's side is a Dusun. Dusun is one of the ethnic / indigenous group that is mainly found on Borneo Island. They're one of the four tribes in Brunei that are  like the Maoris of New Zealand or the Aborigines in Australia. I knew for a fact that since i was younger that i've got some Dusun blood in me but i never really grew up living the way my mom used to live so i never really cared much about that fact. I just know that anything that has to do with my grandmother is really kampung-ish (village-ish). Sometime last year, i was required to do a compulsory "Intercultural Communication" paper as part of my Communication Studies course that teaches pretty much everything you need to know about cultural differences. It is only after that paper, i managed to grasp how rich and important a culture can be and what it can mean to someone. Of course since i'm in New Zealand, we had mostly discussions about the Maoris and Aborigines but in the back of my mind, i thought to myself if this was discussions about Brunei, we'd definitely be discussing about the Dusun, Iban, Bisaya or Kedayan people. That was when i realised how big of a deal culture is and how many of these rich historical cultures are dying.

Now normally, after completing an assignment i would always get a feeling of accomplishment but for my TV writing assignment, i didn't get that usual feeling. I was feeling more relieved upon completion (i had to tweak a few of my facts my storyline) but the other part of me felt more...proud. Not proud of the fact that i finished my assignment but proud to be reminded of the fact that my grandmother was a 'rakyat jati' back home in Brunei. That's as Brunei as it can get. My grandfather on the other hand was from China (i'm pretty sure even Stevie Wonder can tell from that) but seeing my grandmother dressed up in her traditional sarong, with my mom, aunts and uncles barefooted and all just put a smile on my face. I'm just glad that my sister manage to find this picture of my mom's family because if it wasn't for this simple family portrait, i wouldn't be this grateful for my own culture. Sure, people can always argue that i'm not really a pure Dusun but that's not what i'm trying to claim here. I admit i know very little about my grandmother's history and the language itself other than a few words which i used to learn from both my mom and my grandmother when i was a kid like manju (shower), manuk (chicken), ani monchoi (not good), gayuh (big) and tali (penis) but i'm just really proud of the fact that my grandmother was a true traditional indigenous Bruneian.

I still do have relatives back home that could possibly be the very last generation of the Dusun tribe while majority of us here are pretty much westernized. If it's the one thing i regret, i wished my mom would've taught us more of the language so at least i can converse fluently in it. Some of my cousins still can which i'm envy of. Until today, I still get very fascinated hearing my mom conversing with her relatives in her native Dusun language.

Today, i had an interesting dinner session with my friends and we were just sharing a bit on our culture. I ended up showing this picture to them and felt really proud for once that part of me has a strong connection to the history of my country. One of my friend looked at it and few minutes after adoring the rich cultural history there is to this picture, he pointed out another cool 'potential fact' he saw in the background.

I could possibly be a stoner by blood. Hahaha!


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