Only virtual Kaamatan as Sabah abides by CMCO SOPs

TAMBUNAN: This year’s Kaamatan festival, including at the district level, will be held fully online as Sabah has changed to Conditional Movement Control Order starting April 29.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said:” We will continue to do live streaming and online broadcasting, but we will do so in accordance with the SOP set by the Health Ministry.

“The Sabah government has also decided that except for the launching of the of the Kaamatan month this Saturday which will also be done symbolically at Hongkod Koisaan (KDCA), there will be no Kaamatan festival to be celebrated at district level.

“Programmes such as the Unduk Ngadau contest, Sugandoi and other competitions at the district level will continue, but other programmes such as the officiating ceremony will be omitted,” he said in a statement.

Jeffrey, who is also the chairman of this year’s Kaamatan Main Organising Committee, said the decision is made to ensure there will be no new Covid-19 clusters, thus putting to waste all efforts to combat the Covid-19 virus.

KDM Cultural practice of “Pibabasan” held in Kiulu prior to CMCO

. Villagers capturing a buffalo for slaughter in conjunction with the state-level Kaamatan Festival as a symbol of 'pibabasan' (peace) at Kampung Libodon in Kiulu, on Tuesday
Villagers capturing a buffalo for slaughter in conjunction with the state-level Kaamatan Festival as a symbol of ‘pibabasan’ (peace) at Kampung Libodon in Kiulu, on Tuesday- Sabah Tourism Board.

Meanwhile, in Kiulu on April 27, a small group of Kiulu folks gathered under the scorching sun to witness the slaughtering of a buffalo near the river at Kampung Libodon, about two hours’ drive from Kota Kinabalu.

The slaughtering of buffalo was a representation of peace and reconciliation among the community held in conjunction with the state-level Kaamatan Festival.

Legend has it that the Libodon River, located in the interior of Kiulu, used to be a war ground among the many Kadazandusun clans.

Known for headhunting culture in the past, the Kadazandusuns were said to have fought with each other to obtain enemy skulls as trophies as a symbol of strength of their respective clan.

Witnessed by state Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister cum Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, the event was held on a small scale where the animal’s blood was also poured into the Libodon river that flows into larger Tuaran River.

The event was also filmed by local production company.

Bangkuai said seven locations, including Kiulu, were selected as a venue for the traditional buffalo slaughtering ceremony as a symbolic of ‘pibabasan’ (peace) this year.

Witnessing the event held on a small scale, Bangkuai said such Kadazandusun custom practices were interesting to observe and present a valuable knowledge in order to understand one’s culture, especially on cultural unity.

“The clash of (Kadazandusun) clans is akin to political infighting. Culture and unity can be a bridge to reconcile political conflicts in a peaceful manner based on common respect.

“Traditional practice that focuses on peace and reconciliation is important for cultural unity, especially when we are living in a multi-racial and multi-religion country. This is a cultural heritage that is rich in value and should be preserved.

“Knowledge on traditional belief and custom practices needs to be passed down and not forgotten. It is what makes us, our cultural background,” he said.


Custom practices should be documented and promoted

Bangkuai then pointed out the need to document custom practices as a way to preserve the understanding of a culture, and a reminder of what grounds and connects the people to build a better community.

He stressed his Ministry and STB were always encouraging individuals, including local film or documentary producers, to work together in documenting the many cultural practices in the state as a way to promote Sabah as heritage destination.

In the event, villagers collectively cut, cooked, and shared the buffalo meat among each other.

Also present were Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) social culture and heritage director Dr Benedict Topin; Kiulu assistant district officer Justin Gindok; Tamparuli assistant district officer Herman Tunggiging; native chiefs; and village chiefs.

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