Shame On You Rungus!!!

I found this article today, it was published in March 2003, but I think this article is still very relevant to us the Rungus people. I wrote about this subject (Rungus Language) previously. If this guy a European can speak Rungus language fluently why can't us, the Rungus people.

Our Rungus language is a very beautiful language. The only people who failed to realized about it is the Rungus people itself. I was thinking about organizing a forum or at least a dialogue to discuss about Rungus language but I really do not have the confident if anyone will be interested about it.

Title: Ever met a European who speaks Rungus?
Published on: Daily Express
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Former missionary to Kudat, Karl Wilhelm Rennstich, projects an admirable enthusiasm for the language, which he claims to be difficult to learn but wonderful to speak.

It (Rungus) is more precise than European languages because it has a phrase for anything.

Each letter means a precise thing, he said to reporters some five days before the Pioneers Memorial Lectures for the 90th Anniversary of Hakka settlers in Inanam-Menggatal-Telipok.

He described the Rungus and Dusun people there as not technologically advanced then but being in possession of a philosophical culture that enabled them to communicate deeply.

They use stem words that if added with other sounds can be used to define a precise object or time, he said.

Karl learnt conversational Rungus within about six months while stationed in Tinangol and Sikuati during mid 1960s as a Protestant preacher and missionary.

Now, as a lecturer of Religious Science at the Basel University in Switzerland, he became very familiar with the settlement history of the early Hakka Chinese in the northern parts of Borneo.

He immersed himself in research while in Stuttgart, Germany and Singapore on the beginnings of the Chinese and Rungus churches in Northwest Sabah.

Together with Chong Tet Loi, writer of Hakkas in Sabah and Prof. Danny Wong from UM, Karl will be giving his viewpoint on the beginnings of Inanam, Telipok and Menggatal towns during the Pioneers Lectures near the State capital on March 14.

He remembers early on, prior to his transfer to Sabah as a missionary, that he wanted to learn more about the cultures and peoples of South East Asia.

I had some friends studying at Basel University from Indonesia.

So I was very much interested in going away from Germany for some time and learn other cultures because my Indonesian friends impressed me very much.

He remembers one day when the Protestants of Sabah wrote a letter asking for young theologians because there were no qualified pastors to help out there.

So I decided, ok, if not Indonesia, then Borneo is like Indonesia. So I came to Sabah, he said.

The years (1965-1972) that Karl was in Kudat, he said, taught him more than all his years at university.

All my teachers there couldn't read and write who were mostly old ladies, priestesses of the shamanism, their old religion. So I learnt from them.

He told of how when his eldest son died while he was there, the priestesses comforted him and helped him deal with that painful episode of his life.

It was then also that the cultural gap between him and the Rungus closed.

I can say I got much more development for my own person than I could give.

Karl said he wouldn’t have been so close to the Rungus, if he had not stayed and ate with them in the same wooden homes to earn their confidence

When I came they called me tuan. Thats how they call the white man. After some time, they no longer called me tuan, they started to call me amai, meaning new or adopted father, he said, thus removing his foreigner status.

I always say humbleness is the first daughter of wisdom, he said, revealing his attitude while living with the people then.

I was eager to learn from them and come to the same level as they are, he said.

Karl and his family became so familiar with the life there that even when they moved back to Germany, his children held on to the lifestyles there.

After his children requested rice for dinner every single day, he recalled and laughed at how his mother exploded and said how can anyone eat rice everyday?

He pointed out that one of the most important values that one can learn from the Rungus is their ability to listen.

I'll never forget that I learnt to listen while staying with the Rungus.

In order to be an elder among the Rungus, you have to know three things, three qualifications.

First, you must learn to listen very carefully.

Second, you must learn to hear very carefully and third, you must learn to speak when you are asked to speak, not before, not after. When you need to, he said.

To hear is not just about sounds. People usually have a different way of speaking so it is important to hear even the smallest sounds, he said.

He said, to listen was the most important thing because normally people do not say what they think.

So listen to see. I think one of the most difficult things in our lives is to be set back by show-offs in their speaking, he said.

Titles or pangkat, he said, impress people. But it should be the personality and behaviour of the person that shines through.
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