Bicara @ Muzium, Melayu Merentasi Samudera: Capetown

cape malay muzium

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Thank you Jabatan Muzium Negara especially Muzium Etnologi Dunia Melayu for inviting me to this talk, it was a pleasure to be able to share my research on the Cultural Heritage of the Cape Malays in Capetown. Who would have known that from that one decision to visit Capetown lead to this, also thanks to The Vocket for publishing my articles on my visit to Capetown (x) , South Africa.

Also to some of the media for covering the event , namely:

UTUSAN (x)

and later KOSMO some time next week.

For those who would like to read my paper, you can download it via this link (x)

After the the talk, I met a Cape Malay whose family migrated to Malaysia in 1960. At the time Tunku Abdul Rahman, then the Prime Minister of Malaysia invited the Cape Malays to move to Malaysia to build up the nation (prior to Malaysia’s 1957 Independence) She now speaks fluent Malay but still retains her Capetonian English accent with her. She said there was already Cape Malays from Capetown who migrated earlier than their family, one of them married to a Perak Royalty.

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‘Change’

 

 

My grandmother is a loyal supporter of umno. She’s in her late 70s by now maybe 80 plus I lost count how old is she. Her only source of news was the mainstream media (then), she doesn’t go on social media, her time is only for praying, Quran, Surau and TV, if not watching her garden everyday.

Her memories of umno was when people fight for independence, when leaders step up to lead because someone had to. When people actually do their job and not fight for money etc. A true blue BN-Umno.

Even when Reformasi happened, she strongly have faith in the ruling party then. Even some of her children did not, and endlessly insist we should oppose too. We stood by her, even if we were the only one still supporting the ruling party then.

One day, my grandmother asked me, is it true what people say about Tun M ? Is he getting senile? Is he crazy to want to change the government?

I knew then that those are the words only a mainstream media would plant in the viewers mind, she could not have picked up anywhere else because she’s mostly at home.

I gave a sigh, and answer, I don’t know Tok, I don’t know. In her eyes, I saw tears and worries, I don’t know Tok, I really don’t know – back then.

Even when the election day came, I worry more for her because she is very old and may not be able to handle the harsh truth. When I called after the sworn in, I try to keep our conversation light, until she herself answers

“Maktok tidur awal, takut darah naik”

(I slept early, worried if my blood pressure rise)

Im sorry Mak Tok, you live to see this, I just hope you are as healthy as our Prime Minister.
And that Malaysia is in good hands even if its painful for you to accept the changes (truth).

As time changes, so did we. Only after Tun M steps up and walked out of the party as the ruling party then, refuse to change. I start to read more of the other side of the story, think through and made my decision.

I never felt the need to vote until now, as much as I wish there would be changes from within. I wasn’t even sure if I made the right decision but I have faith that, if God wills it, nothing that people do can stop the changes from happening. And so kun fa ya kun, it happens.

With or without my vote, change will happen because the majority of voters that came out were more than what expected. And change must happen not just the government but among ourselves, instead of relying on the government – yet again to change.

We grew up with umno and also… today’s government, but all of us remain one – Malaysian.

Whoever we support, let this not stop us from being good towards one another. And, please stop bickering about the things people do in the past. Just because that person is powerless, doesn’t mean we should freely harass and throw mean words at them and anyone related to them.

We are all flawed in so many ways, lets just move on and try to get along with each other. We are after all, a very small country, and if we are going to stay long, we must learn to get along. At the end of the day, we are all coming back to the same home, Malaysia.

 

 

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Merdeka 2.0!

If you asked me years ago,  I would not have voted or aware how important it was to vote.  But for the first time,  I felt the need to vote for my country and be part of the change we want to see.

Some of my friends in Indonesia and other Malaysian friends  living abroad was following the news closely.  Keeping in touch to make sure we are safe , instead I reassure them that with such a strong led coalition like Harapan,  there is still hope that a peaceful change can be made.

For some reason,  some of the news I was following online was not able to connect online , the mainstream media was delaying so much with commentaries and my concern friends from neighboring country was helpful enough to update me with the current SPR result.

Even voting itself feels like going to an examination and waiting for the results on the same day felt like the longest night.

Finally when the once Prime Minister of Malaysia appeared in his black songkok and baju melayu,  with sampin being sworned in,  everyone felt relief.

15 years later,  I get to watch this historic event and be part of it.  It does feels a bit like Merdeka eh?

For friends outside Malaysia who is still absorbing the news,  we also didn’t know we could do this and how everyone could come together for one common thing, our love towards our country,  Malaysia

All I can say,  we voted for a better Malaysia regardless our differences, we have each other to make the changes.

Meanwhile,  this means, you are never too old to dream a new dream, even becoming PM again. Lol!

Its definitely the, M factor… M…for Malaysia. Thank you Malaysian for making your choice, whoever you voted for,  I hope we choose the best among our leaders in restoring the country to a better state than it was.

To those who lost their vote,  I hope that you will still do good for the community around us… With or without power,  we all have the power to choose to do what is good for the benefit of the people we live with and not just ourselves. A true leader is, when they are not in power,  they can still lead people to goodness and bring benefit to others with whatever they are able to contribute. May this does not stop us from being a better person and continue to grow in the future.

May God protect our country and bless us with better leaders and unite us against all odds.   🇲🇾 ♥

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Bukit TI

Since quitting my job, I have been spending most of my time at Bukit TI , a small hill infront of School of Industrial Technology in University Sains Malaysia. What started as volunteer basis, turn out to be a pretty cool job to work with.

Initially, the works there started of as my dad’s research project on composting and expanded to Vermicomposting. Then, they run out of space to use their compost and look for space to grow their plants – so his Graduate Intern’s then Hamzah and Syahidah found an empty space just above their school rooftop. So after getting the permission from the Dean, the Rooftop Wild Garden was born.

Since 2014, the rooftop grew into a space full of over 100 herbs and plants , some aquaphonic system and vertical farming using recycleable items. Somehow they cross path with Dr Zulkifli Mustafa , who was doing research on the Stingless Beee @ Kelulut by rearing the Kelulut bees. He trains farmers and the public to rear using sustainable bee farming via his Mustafa Hive design. That pretty much match what we are doing right now, which is making compost to grow plants that can build an ecosystem for the Kelulut Bees to make their hive. So the Kelulut hive was installed and encourage the pollination of the plants on our Rooftop Wild Garden as they get enough food source from the plants we grow.

At the same time, we also experimented on rearing Black Soldier Fly Larva and Dubia for animal feed. Other than that, we also grow Azolla – an aquatic water plants that can be grown easily and use as animal feed that is rich with protein and healthier options as it is a plant based.

So again, bigger space needed and so ECOPRO@USM team as the research group is known as proposed for the small hill in front of School of Industrial Technology to grow a Green technology Garden where it can be turn into a Community Garden for the campus community and public to come and learn about all the things we learnt and applied since we started the research project.

Later on, we started to introduce the project for the students about what we do at Bukit TI and some students started messaging on how they can be part of the community garden we are working on. After all, we are not just growing plans but applying an Ecosystem Design Restoration via Permaculture method we learnt in a Permaculture Design Course earlier. So we decided to open it for Volunteers to help us at Bukit TI and trained them every week on how they can grow the plants and restore the ecosystem at Bukit TI.

I was really surprised and amazed by their passion in volunteering and learning from us, though only a small bunch of students who came but they were very excited to spend their time despite their busy schedule at Bukit TI. Some even helped out when we were away for research visit and look after the garden.

What started as just a research project, turns out to become a community project that became an important step for the environment. We don’t talk about climate change now, we became the change we want to see in this world.

So if any of you wants to know more about what we do, visit our FB page and we will share with you   :

K2K: Kompos To Kelulut

 

 

Living with your parents

A conversation with an old friend who quit their job & came back from abroad to be with their children. unfortunately, my friend couldn’t get a job as the gov is freezing jobs in the field of her expertise.
Now my friend lives with her parents (And thats okay) while her husband go to work
A few other siblings also move back in, some was retrenched & move back to Malaysia (though manage to get a job while the other stays at home to look after their children & online business)
Some quit their job and looking for other job that fits his soul more. He can design an oil rig & develop an app where you can buy & locate the nearest shop locally & internationally on the item you are looking for which was shortlisted in a competition but only manage to get to the finals..also moves back with their parents
although my friend is stay at home mom right now, she’s happy to be able to take care of her children because back when she worked abroad and her husband in Malaysia, her children don’t recognize her as they don’t get to meet often during her early years of growing up. (and i think its the right choice to be with her family though it means she have to sacrifice her job for her family)
she says, only now..money is tight. but that’s okay. she says, a lot of her friends she know is also living with their parents and seeing the trend, her parents predicts that more children will move back in or stay with their parents.
I can’t write too detail but the point of the conversation was that
1) even if you have a great degree it doesn’t promise you to get a job – or stay in one – you might get retrenched, you might have to quit your job. getting a degree doesn’t mean we will be getting a job, or we will be stuck as ‘job seeker’ mindset than ‘job creator’ . its what you do with the knowledge & experience that counts. the job market is changing as the economy goes down. our resilience as my mom said, and ability to create our own job will help us get through the hard times.
2) its okay to live with your parents, as long as you help to contribute in the family. even if you are married with kids, there’s nothing to be ashamed of as people in the days used to live with their parents or close to one another. its also how a community built upon because when you are in the same house, you will look after one another and take care of each other. aging parents especially need more attention so grandchildren also helps to bring families closer as they bring the laughter and joy in the house.
although development is good for the economy, its also bad for family as children who is now adult, move out from the house with no one to look after their kids. strangers taking care of their kids – with this whole child abuse in nursery- and other social problems.
so when the economic bubble starts to burst and economy collapsing, so will families if they do not get support from their own family. hence why, we see some children moving back with their parents – which in a way is good for the community to be rebuilt again.
people will either be forced to or voluntarily look after one another and work out their differences.
this reminds me of a conversation i had when i was in capetown last year,
“when we leave our heritage & culture, things becomes expensive. but when we continue our heritage & relive the culture, it becomes less”
meaning that, if we continue to leave our heritage & culture – we lead an individualistic life – – you have to rely on your own to feed your own mouth. – you need to hire a babysitter to look after your kids – and soon enough you have to work 2-3 jobs to feed your family but don’t have time for your own family.
but if we bring back the culture of taking care of one another – and think of how we can help one another and feed our family & community around us. our culture taught us about taking care of one another, within our own community. When we have to go somewhere far, we ask our relatives to look after our kids – even if we are at home & your kids loitering around somewhere they shouldn’t – they will alert you and look out for your kids. When we have more – we give to our neighbors (which used to be our relatives as well), when we need certain plants, we ask our neighbors if we could have some of theirs & in return we give them some of the food we cook that day to thank them. Or when the car breaks down, or the toilet pump broke – we call our friends who knows how to fix it rather than the shop.
maybe, just maybe our burden becomes less – with shared resources – a helping hand & eventually become a better person towards our family, friends and the community we live in. the most expensive currency nowadays is not money – but built on trust . and this cannot be done without having faith & believing in one another. it takes it takes a good heart & sincere intention of those who believes the same thing – making the world a better place to live in as a family.
because at the end of the day, we are all living on the same earth…
(…..and Mars will takes years or never – before we can still be alive to move there)
*so look around and see who else we can help, stop looking only ourselves rather look for those around us who might need our help but too shy to ask for one.

Happiness 

When a friend once asked me why i look extraordinary happy since the last time, she met me (yes, i too once hit rock bottom). By then ive already graduated, but i did not have a job yet. I was also anxious about a lot of things, but mainly because of not having a job. 
And then i did get a job, but i still did not feel happy. Then, I quit and felt happier because I don’t have to keep on a brave face, fake smile, doing something that no longer makes me happy.
Then i went through some internal journey, trying new things, giving myself a break, spending some time with nature though I don’t like to spend too long in it without human communication (I’m an ambivert) 
And then slowly, find myself involved with small projects here and there, that lead me to one thing to another, sometimes from helping my parents, sometimes from co author writing research papers, sometimes from creating workshops – sometimes out of request – sometimes initiated – but always have something to do no matter how small it seems.
My first answer that came into my mind was, first, I am debt free. Alhamdulillah. Ptptn wise, I have returned what i owed so that other people can benefit from it.  
Secondly , i have made peace with whatever that was bothering me, my past, my regrets, and all the things i hoped for but did not happen..was better than what i hoped for. That my delay was His blessings in showing me other path opened up for me
Thirdly, because i realized that you can create your own job, when you start to believe in yourself, and self motivate yourself. That rizq is not from a person, an employer or worst, settling yourself to a job that is not worth your time, peace of mind and importantly your own happiness because . 
Instead, by the people who support you and you supporting them back. Not in a scheming way of asking for favors, etc. but through real life social networking that i never realize i was fortunate enough to have – family who support you – understands your circumstances- friends who accepts you – believes in you – keeps in touch wih you – there for you though mostly you have to turn to different friends for moral support if one is not available. Who doesn’t ask for anything in return except you continue to be a friend. 
They come sometimes from people you never expect, who believed in your ability when you couldn’t see that from your own point if view until somebody point it out to you. 
Certainly it wasn’t an easy journey to let go of your own expectations, and self doubt, even until today, you still struggle to find the meaning of life and making sense to every changes in your life. But it feels a lost better to not carry this heavy imaginary burden that haven’t happened yet (I go by if it hadn’t happen yet, don’t waste time worrying about it & focus on the present kind of life goals) 
Somehow that gave me peace, and calm because as cliche this may sound, its true, when you stop putting your happiness to please people ortrying to meet certain expectations – even your own, you learn to breathe a little better. 
Also it made me notice things more , the simple life pleasure, like taking a walk, making your own food fixed, eating obviously, and everything around you, you see it differently. 
Like a wise men once said, don’t put dunya (the world) in your heart but instead in your hand, and you will conquer the world. Not in a do inating kind of way, but being aware that life is too short to let other people dictate your happiness or let them effect you negatively and simply let go – for the ake of your own peace of mind. 
Alhamdulillah m life has been kind, and I would like to teturn this kindness to those who might be struggling like me , by sharing this post.  
Take a break, and try again tomorrow. Repeat. Until you no longer have to find happiness but see it in yourself that it was there all along.

Happiness is a choice, sometimes given, sometimes taken, but always returns in a different form – better than you wish it to be.  So, go in, make someone happy, and see how it returns to you by the mere smile  of the person you made their life slightly happier, sorrow less heavier, and just being there , even if the only thing you could offer is our presence. 

Hugs

My niece way of expressing her love, is through hugs & kisses – lots of it sometimes I run away from it. Touch, hugs, and kisses – we don’t grow up with that. Maybe briefly when we were a kid, but I don’t remember it.

Call it tough love, it doesn’t mean that we did not receive love at all. Love was expressed differently, through kind , loving , encouraging words. Through cooking , treating us to nice dinner or going on holiday, or simply spending time with each other.

Thats the kind of love i knew and raised with, values and all. 

Perhaps one significant memory that I remember was when i was hospitalized for an operation and somehow in vulnerable state where i wanted to hug every member of my family who visited me at the hospital. I was 14 years old and it was my first major operation as a teenager , so I was really afraid of being left alone at the hospital as everyone leaves me alone. Though my mom, sometimes my sister takes turn to accompany you, but there’s this time when you have to be alone.

So, Abi pulls me asideand said that i must not get used to touch, hugs and all, because he worries that i might not be able to let go, when the time comes. Eventually, i stopped. 

Anyway, growing up, I never feel the need to express or show love through hugs or any form of touch. Instead i used to run away from being hugged or kissed by anyone , even if they are just a hello kind of hug which last like 3 seconds. 

When i met a few friends who is such a hugger and all, i get anxious, and wanted to run away from being hugged.   Slowly some of them manage to hug me and makes me feel comfor  enough to receive hugs though not too often. 

In a way, hugs is like a form of trust and expression of someones love or care about you. Though for people like me, its hard to receive one, when you are not the one who gives hug. Also, it helps if people would tell someone , like a heads up, that they be giving out hug as it will help you be more mentally prepared to receive one. 

Still, it does makes me slightly sad and surprised when my niece asked me,  why i dont like her, this is probably because  every time she tries to hug or kiss me, i try to avoid it. Only because i am not comfortable of receiving too much of it. So, i  explained to her that its not that I don’t like her so that she doesn’t feel like bad about herself. Then, later try to play and spend some time with her. 

I hope one day she will understand that just because you don’t give out hugs and kisses doesn’t make someone cold, some people express their love differently. Still, i super admire people who can easily hug it out and express their love through touch.  I don’t know about my future children, you probably will be getting tough love from me lol! Im a work in progress, so please don’t expect me to change overnight. 

There is this thing called , ‘haphephobia’ okay!