بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
وَأَلۡقَىٰ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ رَوَٲسِىَ أَن تَمِيدَ بِڪُمۡ وَأَنۡہَـٰرً۬ا وَسُبُلاً۬ لَّعَلَّڪُمۡ تَہۡتَدُونَ
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Firman Allah SWT di dalam Surah An-Nahl Ayat 15 yang bermaksud,
Dan Dia mengadakan gunung-gunung di bumi supaya bumi itu tidak goncang bersama kamu, (dan Dia menciptakan) sungai-sungai dan jalan-jalan agar kamu mendapat petunjuk – Surah An-Nahl Ayat 15
(And He has set up on the earth, mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you; and rivers and roads; that ye may guide yourselves – Surah An-Nahl Ayat 15)
The Kadayan people in our village seldom called Lakutan River by its name; they simply called the river as “Sungai Basaa” literally translated as “Big River”. If my memory served me right there were a few well known “limbauh” along the river (mostly upstream) such as Limbauh Chandung, Buka, Paha, Kibit and Bangkala and many more.
Lakutan River or Sungai Basaa is synonym to the Kadayan people of Mesapol. The river “belongs” to the Kadayan people and no other ethnic group could claim that the river “belongs” to them. Its existence was meant for the Kadayan people, providing them with abundant food supply; it is their life line and I for one am greatly indebted to the river and proud to be associated with the river.
Quarry activities in action
A couple of years ago, my childhood friend told me that Sungai Basaa now has been badly polluted by the logging and quarry activities upstream, I was so annoyed by the disturbing news only to direct my anger to the people who are motivated by greed with absolute neglect of the environment and the “living” Lakutan River which has been so generous to the Kadayan people for generations. If the logging and quarry activities are not stopped immediately, I am afraid the Lakutan River and its famous limbauh Chandung, Buka, Paha, Kibit and Bangkala and many others would be history and only to be remembered by a few elderly village folks like me. This is the very reason why I am creating this blog, to create awareness and documenting memoirs of my childhood days for the new Kadayan generation to read, appreciate and understand the importance of paying respect for the environment and keeping records of our historical pasts.
Serene, Tranquil and Peaceful
The used to be serene, tranquil and peaceful Lakutan River populated by its natural habitat of variety of fishes, crustacean, reptiles and mammals is now doomed to oblivion. The serenity of Lakutan River was best described by its crystal clear water cascading through natural river rocks and pebbles (batu kaangan) and I can still remember very well that as the morning sun ray penetrated the heavy foliage covering some parts of the river, I could see the so natural water evaporation process by its misty appearance above the water surface. It was an awesome sight! Just amazing!
As I stepped into the water, the tiny prawns would congregate around my feet and tickled them with their minute claws as if they were telling me not to disturb their beautiful home. Even the tiny fry like “bantang” would come all around me biting softly almost every parts of my skinny body as if they were giving the same message as the tiny prawns just did. For those who understand, the message is clear. I am not an environmentalist BUT I value nature, its beauty, serenity, tranquillity and peacefulness that God has created for mankind. The Lakutan River and all rivers for that matter deserved to be treated with great care and respect.
The Lakutan River was once upon a time a home of Kadayan “legendary snakes” called “TAMBUAKAA” in Kadayan dialect. “Tambuakaa” is not a myth or a legend, it was REAL. I have seen it with my very own eyes sometime in 1960 or 1961. The reason I called it as “legendary snakes” is simply because the description of “tambuakaa” as told by our elders were over emphasised having fiery eyes, the scales are as big as a “cuik” (saucer) and its length and size is about the length and size of a coconut tree.
Ninik Nasir (pronounced as Nasee in Kadayan dialect) who was our immediate neighbour caught the “tambuakaa” single-handed from one of the “limbauh” in Sungai Lakutan which I am unable to recall the “limbauh” name. It was about 15 feet Long, dark brown in colour with grey spots all over its body (from head to tail). Ninik Nasee was one of the few remaining Kadayan elders of our village who was spiritually competent at the time. Not a single living soul in our village ever caught a “tambukaa” and when Ninik Nasee caught one, it was indeed a big surprise to everyone. All the village folks congregated to our neighbourhood to have a glimpse of the “tambuakaa” caught by Ninik Nasee. Beside my late father, I was one of the first few to have a glimpse of the legendary “beast”.
Kali Sungku (Mastacembelus Circumcinctus)
At first glance, I thought it was a python which is commonly found in our neighbourhood, but looking at the head and the tail and the dorsal fin, definitely it was not a python. Having a closed look at the animal, Ninik Nasee, my late father and a couple of village folks collectively agreed that the “tambuakaa” caught was actually an OVER-GROWN / OVER-SIZED KALI SUNGKU. Kali sungku is a common eel like fish with elongated / protruding mouth, thorny dorsal fin and a tail just like a cat fish tail. The standard size of a kali sungku (picture), scientifically known as mastacembelus circumcinctus is about one to one and a half foot in length.
According to Ninik Nasee, who was hardly 5 foot tall, it took him about four hours to land and over power the 15-foot legendary “beast”. Firstly, catching a 15-foot “tambuakaa” was indeed not an ordinary catch and the person who fished it out was indeed not an ordinary catcher. Secondly, the distance Ninik Nasee had to endure carrying / pulling the “animal” from the river to his house was definitely more than 2 miles. Where did that great energy come from! Just incredible!
It was just a pity that an imaging technology known as photography was not available to the Kadayan community at the time. Should a camera was available then; such an image would be priceless! Nevertheless, I am lucky to be still alive to tell the tale of the Kadayan’s legendary snake called “TAMBUAKAA”.
The legendary “tambuakaa” was not consumed but was buried respectfully by the village folks. That was the first and the last Kadayan’s legendary “tambuakaa” ever caught in the history of Mesapol’s Kadayan and with the river’s current dilapidated state, I doubt the “tambuakaa” ever survive again and I can safely declare that the species is forever extinct.
The continuous blatant disregard of the environment particularly by the logging and quarry activities had caused ecological imbalance, thus nature would take its cause to correct the imbalance by destructing the serenity, tranquillity and peacefulness of the environment. Greedy people could not care less about the environment because their object is to make as much money as possible at the expense of every thing including the most precious gift of all given by God to mankind i.e. the environment we live in.
Observing the slow and agonising death of the most resourceful river of the Kadayan people is indeed a gruesome, intimidating, shameful and ugly episode in Kadayan history. The logging and quarry companies are controlled only at the most by five Board of Directors respectively, against army of people from the law enforcement agencies, Kadayan community leaders, the whole Kadayan population within the vicinity and two prominent Kadayan leaders, the ADUN and MP respectively yet we succumb ourselves at the mercy of a few people by only helplessly watching the Lakutan River to suffer the slow and agonising death.
With the general election just around the corner, I just hope the new democratically elected representatives of the rakyat both at the State and Federal level to spend a few minutes of their “precious” time to care for the environment particularly the logging and quarry activities that had caused unimaginable suffering to our most resourceful river i.e. the Lakutan River.