| Hakim Hayat & James Kon |
THE first of its kind since 2012, hundreds of Dusun descendants from one lineage converged at the Serambangun Hall in Tutong to celebrate the legacy of Uking bin Samad in the spirit of this year’s National Family Day that carries the theme, ‘My Family, My Hope’ recently.
Set against the chatter of catchups and introductions in a variety of languages from the family’s mother tongue Dusun to the more modern English and Malay, as well as Chinese, the five-generation gathering spans a melting pot of religions, and culture with many who have chosen to follow the teachings of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and those who maintain Dusun beliefs that continue to be passed down from generation to generation.
The reunion was led by the family’s patriarch, father figure and former Legislative Council (LegCo) member Orang Kaya Maha Bijaya Awang Haji Othman bin Uking, fifth youngest from 13 siblings. It was aimed at bringing together family members from across the country ranging from senior in their 80s to toddlers as young as one.
Orang Kaya Maha Bijaya Haji Othman emphasised the importance of resilience and the significance of family especially in modern day living, reminding those present to remember their roots.
Uking bin Saman born in 1868 was a prominent figure in rural Tutong during his time.
He lived to be approximately 117 years od and passed just a year after Brunei Darussalam gained independence in 1985.
As he lived through the 1883 Krakatoa eruption in Indonesia at the age of 15, he told tales of witnessing plumes of volcanic smoke and ash as part of the volcano’s global aftermath that affected countries as far away as Australia and the United States (US) and inspired artwork throughout the world.
Apart from the grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, and great-great-great grandchildren, he was survived by seven remaining children the eldest now 89 and the youngest 73 who, in their youth, either maintained the farming way of life or joined Brunei’s development as government officers and teachers.
Meanwhile, 2019 also brought significant milestones to the family tree with the rediscovery of a lineage that grew expansively in neighbouring Miri and Kuching.
After over 30 years of unknown relations, a family member by chance had stumbled upon an extended family in Miri that can be traced in the Uking family book but did not establish contact until this year.
This family is identified through Tuanku Sharif Taibu Al-Sagaf who, according to records, was married to Uking Saman’s paternal great grandma. This discovery was thanks in part to social media and curious investigating by an Uking descendant who was informed by a friend that this family, who at the time owned a café in Lutong, had Dusun relatives in Brunei.
After turning to Facebook and starting communications with Sharif Taibu’s great-great grandson, some 70 family members from Uking’s generation visited these long-lost relatives over an emotionally charged reunion and plans are currently being made for a follow-up visit sometime this year.