Old names of places

Recently my 73-year old dad-in-law lamented to me that the old names of places in Penampang are fast being lost. True, and it is like that in many places in Sabah too. Areas sorrounding towns that were once rural villages are fast succumbing to urban sprawl with the ever-expanding construction of housing estates, commerical buildings and municipal infrastucture. The rustic characteristics of once quaint villages in many parts of Sabah are lost forever. One of these, as my dad alluded to, is the loss of original names of places. Names that, if we do retain, in my opinion, are so much more interesting and reflect our proud heritage.

My kampong, which is relatively still unaffected by urbanisation, is a typical old-style village in this sense: we have places in the kampong that we still call lubah, lumou, kawatangan, kagal, po’ong, tapou-apou, kuminongkod, wasai, and many more with dusun names. Some of these places are actually only a few hundred meters in separation but still warrant their own names. Villagers do these in the old days because people were not so far-ranging and mobile then, and were closely-knitted. Consider this conversation:

Villager1: “Nokoidu moti karabau nu! Mintangkus poh lod parai! (Your buffalo escaped! It is running around among the paddy!)”

Villager2″ “Odoi! Id nongo nodi? (Odoi! Where is it now?)”

Villager1 “Ilo monti di id Togoip eh, mongotop tomod di parai di Kundahal (It is at Togoip, grazing hard on Kundahal’s padi).”

Villager2 will know within a few meters where his buffalo is.

Now Penampang has names like Lorong Gunung Perlis, Taman Fraser, Taman Everclicked, Lorong Zirafah (Giraffe in Sabah?!), Taman Land Breeze, Beverly Hills, etc. I suspect there is a Hollywood somewhere too. Who the heck thought of these names?

According to my dad-in-law, Donggongon was not the original name of the town. In fact the place was named “Tundo’ngon”, which means a place to rest. In the old days, people from the further reaches of Penampang stopped by this place to rest on the way to Dapi-api (Jesselton, and now grand City of Kota Kinabalu), and also on the way back.


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