KIULU: 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.
Yesterday, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday, the slaughtering of buffalo was documented by local film crew that was also doing a shooting focusing on Kiulu as rural-tourism 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.