Dusuns will never accept being called Kadazan: Sundang
Published on: Saturday, November 20, 2021
By: British North Borneo Herald
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Scenes from the past: Riding a buffalo as means of transportation in 1910. - pic for illustration only.
KENINGAU. Fri. The term Dusun is not derogatory as some quarters claim, but instead it is something to be proud of as it signifies hardwork and productivity. 

It is however considered an insult when used intentionally to degrade a particular race. 

Datuk G.S. Sundang (or Samson Sundang Gunsanad, his actual name) a former Deputy Chief Minister, said this when commenting on recent remarks that “Dusun” was a derogatory term created by the British colonial masters for the natives of Sabah. 

He pointed out that the term Dusun had been in existence since the 15th century when Sabah was part of the vast Brunei empire, long before the British came. 

“At that time, the Malays used to trade with us by exchanging goods with our farm and agriculture products,” he said. 

Datuk Sundang said the Malays used to call the natives orang dusun (farmers having lands and fruit trees) whom they had established a close relationship. “Dusun” is the Malay word for “orchard”. 

Frequent usage of orang dusun by the Malays had inevitably led to the term “Dusun” for farmers in general those days, he said. 

According to Datuk Sundang, the natives 500 years ago originally called themselves Monindol (land owners) and spoke Lewan, a language still widely used by about 80 per cent of the Dusunic family. 

“Kadazan” he said was relatively new with a touch of an urban outlook.

“Kadazan originated in the Penampang area which at that time was nearest to civilisation or the town area while the rest of the state was just a vast jungle where the people worked on farms and orchards,” Datuk Sundang said, adding there were no towns in the rural areas. 

According to him, the term Kadazan originated from the word Kedaian. During the early colonial days, the Dusuns in Penampang were living in a town area (kedai) and hence were frequently called orang kedai (people of the town), later to be changed to “kedaian” before arriving at Kadazan. 

With the adulteration of the names, Kadazan has been termed as urban folk while Dusun the rural population. 

“With our origins dating as far back as 500 years, we are not prepared to discard our racial term as compared to Kadazan which was mooted soon after Malaysia was formed,” Datuk Sundang said. 

Another objection was that while the Penampang natives had no other racial term besides Kadazan, the other ethnic groups, in particular the Dusuns, had felt that to adopt the term Kadazan would mean not only loss of the Dusunic identity but to he dominated by Penampang “as the great masters,” he added. 

Datuk Sundang pointed out that a great number of the Penampang Kadazans born before Malaysia had Dusun as their race in their birth certificates, and asked why the rush for the change. 

He stressed that it was only the Penampang Dusuns who had initially wanted the term Kadazan as their racial identity while a majority of the other ethnic groups still preferred to retain “Dusun”. 

Datuk Sundang felt that the term Dusun was more of a unifying factor after having been existence for more than 500 years rather than having an “alien” name like Kadazan which has been receiving opposition from all over Sabah. 

“However, whatever the term Dusun is, the fact remains we are proud to be the descendants of the pioneers of this State,” he said.

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