I may not be called a real Iban in the sense that I do not believe the preservation of what so called "THE TRADITION OF DAYAK" or Iban in particular. It has been in our culture that whatever traditional value and culture we have shall be passed from older generation to younger generation – just like from father to son kind of arrangement. Therefore, it is the responsibility or rather an obligation of parents to disseminate or teach their children of how to make a living at the same time to maintain our rich cultures.
The point that I would like to share with you is that we emphasize so much on this Gawai Antu and therefore, we tend to deviate from its original destinations or values.
If we hear that people is going to organize GAWAI ANTU, it comes across our mind that these people will be spending a lot of money on the preparation and allocation of food and drink. What makes it even worst is that people spend a whole sum of saved money on hard liquor or best to be called ALCOHOL. Alcohol, socially and economically deprives us from progress. This statement may be too general and may be too exaggerated but this is the fact which Iban in particular cannot deny.
I have one genuine case and it happened to be my own uncle's worker, named Mr. Anding. Mr Anding and his wife were painters in November 1997. They made $30 and $25 per day respectively. One day, he asked for early pay so that he could go back and celebrate the GAWAI ANTU, somewhere in SARATOK division. OK!. One week later, he and wife turned up for work at site. With little surprised, My Uncle asked them why they came back so fast. He told my uncle that he had spend all his money and now he totally broke. He added that he and wife spend about $12,000.00 and the saddest thing is that they had saved that money for the last 5 years. Out of $12,000.00 they spend about $5,000.00 for ALCOHOL only. (Beer, Samsu, expensive and branded liquors). Ba iya wai, nitih ke orang bukai, deka enda nunda, malu ke temuai datai. What a saddest thing to say!!!!.
Summarily, $12,000.00 saved in 5 years and spend 2 or 3 nights????? You may ask yourself, is it wise to celebrate this kind of occasion at the first place??. Competitiveness in term of showing to people that you are so rich and yet your are a kuli in the real sense. Why not being a competitive to, perhaps, sending their children to University or College or perhaps business. They could spend the money on sending their children to private colleges or technical schools!!!!. Why do our people work so hard for "cap apek" than to send their children to go for tertiary education?. Perhaps, you know the answer better.
I apologize for literally not knowing what is the real purpose of Gawai Antu, and my views may insult some of you people to some extend. But, I cannot help in asking myself over and over, that Dayak or Iban in particular are so rich and yet so poor.
In some longhouses, people who have member of family died, have to spend some money to buy "cap apek" just to attract people to attend the funeral and stay until morning. The idea is to get people awake all night and stay at ruai instead of sleeping in bilik . It is a good idea, if the "cap apek" is consumed moderately, however, people tend to forget what is the purpose of them being there. As "cap apek" being more and more apek, the crowd suddenly turn into a party. There will be soon a loud noise and dancing and laughing and pulling and fighting and drunking and and and !!!!, instead of a silent moment of mourning and sorrow. To me, it is disrespect of the family members who are not dead and it defeats the purpose of attending and showing your moral support to the affected family.
What kind of a culture is this?. Are we heading for a change or do we want to pass this kind of value to our next generation????. Is this sort of the progress in nature that we have talked about or do we want to show other society that we are so rich in cultures????.
May be I am too emotional or too conservative about this social ill. Why am I so bother, after all it is not my money and I don’t feed the society, I never give them anything so far. Why do I care so much????.
Nya aja , mupok aku
Can We Change it??? Just thinking back....