Thursday, August 24, 2006

Munshi Abdullah

Think about might not be who you think you really are. You might be indian but later find out that you are by decent Jewish. So does that make you Jewish now? or are u still an Indian? I was doing a research on Munshi Abdullah. The company was tryin to Indianise him as he was already absorbed into the Malay society. His mother was South Indian (Tamil) his fater was an Arab. He was born in Melacca and was brought up reading, writing and speaking Tamil, Malay, Arab and Hindi. From Melacca he moved to Penang and then he came to Singapore with Raffles. During this period of time he also went to India, but no one knows when he went, where he went and for how long (if anyone knows pls tell me). When he came to Singapore, he was a translator for the Brits. He translated Malay to the Brits and English to the bumiputras. Malay was his working language. He wrote books in Arab, he translated Indian epics to Malay and he is known as the Father of Malay Literature in Singapore. Yes! He was. It was through him that Malay Literature in Singapore is what it is today. But.....he was not Malay. But im not saying he was Indian either or Arab. He was what we call a multi-culturalised man. He had different linage, so the Indian community can claim him, the Arab community can also claim him, the Malay community can also claim him. Well if you look like that Singapore has the strongest claim of him. Because he wrote down the adnimistrative details, the way of life back then. He recorded Singapore's early history. His contributions to Singapore was great and inumerable. So to ask what he did for the Malay society or what he did for Indian society is secondary. The whole notion of idnetity at that period of time was very pourous. As long as you were part Indian, you were accepted into the Indian community. So to ask right now was he or was he not Indian is not right as the idea of identity then did not have a definitve line.

My mom said, its easy just call him Singaporean. But you can't. This was way before Singapore was formed. This was in the 1800's when the British first found this fishing village. So none of the pioneers of Singapore can be known as Singaporean but as people who came to Singapore to make a living and then contributed to this country. The same can be said of Munshi Abdullah. He was Indian and Arab but he became known as the Father of Malay Literature in Singapore. Does that make him less of an Indian or an Arab or does that make him more of a Malay? You tell me!


At 9:45 PM, Blogger noelbynature said...

hi there, you've made some interesting points. can i link your post to

At 7:51 AM, Blogger ponga said...

Sure no long as i don get into trouble!


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