KENINGAU: Indigenous people from around Malaysia gathered on the streets here for a walk to mark International Day for the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
Almost all of Malaysia’s indigenous ethnic groups were represented among the 350-strong crowd, who chanted slogans and sang anthems as they marched.
The procession started from the Oath Stone at the Keningau District Office and ended at the Keningau Diocese about 3km away.
The Oath Stone is a monument built to commemorate the terms under which Sabah, together with Sarawak, joined Malaya to form Malaysia.
“We decided to march as a symbolic show of our community’s struggle,” said Beverly Joeman, secretariat director of Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), the organisers of the event.
“And to start the march from the Oath Stone makes it all the more meaningful.”
One of the terms inscribed on the Oath Stone guarantees that the traditional customs of Sabahans will be protected and respected. And, in turn, Sabahans will pledge their loyalty to the Government.
There was a festive mood throughout the march as police and Rela members helped direct traffic.
At the end of the march, a celebration was held at Keningau Diocese’s Solidarity Hall.
It featured cultural performances, traditional sports, traditional food, as well as the unveiling of three traditional knowledge-keepers representing the three regions of Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.
The knowledge-keepers are elders in their own villages and will now be tasked with preserving the customs and traditional knowledge of their respective regions.
The focus of this year’s celebration is the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a landmark document acknowledging the unique challenges indigenous peoples face while outlining how governments should treat indigenous communities.
International Day for the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on Aug 9 every year.
The Star’s R.AGE team was there to document the celebration in collaboration with the young members of the JOAS media team.
It will be releasing short videos on the R.AGE Facebook page (fb.com/thestarRAGE) over the coming weeks.
Source: The Star