Cape Malays…

and their Heritage

Who are the Malays?

Posted by tahirfarrath on August 24, 2009

Now, the Malay archipelago is a very large area. Would this mean that I will never really get to know my place of origin?
So, Who is Malay?
“Melayu ethnicity was never predetermined but was contested on both sides of the Straits of Melaka.”
Extract: The search for the origins of ‘Melayu’, by Leonard Y Andaya, published by the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, October 2001.
The early migration
The first groups of humans, some of whom eventually became Malays, began migrating out of Taiwan in 4000 – 3000 BCE. Others have suggested eastern China as the springboard.
They first went over to Luzon and other Philippine islands and then by about 2000 BCE, reached northern Borneo. Other groups drifted southwards to Mindanao, Sulawesi, the Malukus, and eventually eastern and central Java.
The beginning of Malay culture
Language is one thing, genetic ethnicity is another, but culture is a separate thing again. There is a general consensus that Malay culture began with the Sri Vijaya kingdom, the first significant polity to use Malay. This kingdom was situated in southeast Sumatra.
Other historians add that Jambi was equally a centre of Malay civilisation in those early days. At times, Jambi might have been a part of Sri Vijaya, at other times independent. Interestingly, a Chola-Tanjore inscription of 1030 CE clearly distinguishes between ‘Sri Vijaya’ and a land called ‘Malaiyur’, which is believed to be Jambi. It is also believed that they planted settlements on the Malayan side of the Straits, e.g. in Kedah, and in other parts of the Indonesian archipelago, to collect valuable local produce that could be traded with China, India and the Angkor empire.
In the late 14th century, with the collapse of Sri Vijaya, a prince from Palembang, probably under pressure from the more powerful Javanese, fled across to the Malayan peninsula, and established a new base at Malacca. From this point on, the political construction of ‘Malay’ began. Malacca had a brief flowering of about 100 years before the Portuguese came and conquered it.
However, to this day, the Malaysian national story uses the Malacca state as the launching pad of Malay and Malaysian identity. The fact that the peninsula was perhaps more Mon-Khmer than Malay prior to the 14th century has largely been erased.
Language
In Malaysia, the national language is Malay; in Indonesia, it is Indonesian. The Malaysians tend to assert that Malay and Indonesian are merely different varieties of the same language, while the Indonesians tend to treat them as separate, albeit related, languages.
Does speaking Indonesian make Indonesians Malay?
The Malaysians do recognise finer distinctions between Malay and other indigenous peoples, such as the Kadazan, the Penan and the Murut of Sarawak and Sabah (the Borneo part of Malaysia). But one detects a tendency to treat the notion of ‘Malay’ as both the core and reference group, as well as a general term encompassing all the indigenous people stretching from Southern Thailand to the Malukus.
The Indonesians are quite comfortable being Indonesian at one level, and Javanese, Dayak, Balinese, Acehnese, etc, at another level. In fact, the underlying political agenda is the need to keep the concept of Indonesia inclusive of a multitude of ethnic and linguistic communities spread across 17,000 islands. To overemphasise Malayness would be alienating and divisive, just as to overemphasise Javanese identity and culture.
Note: Singapore is neither Malaysia nor Indonesia.
At some stage the Malay archipelago was called the Indian archipelago (www.wku.edu/~smithch/wallace/S078.htm), which also accounts for the introduction of Hinduism.
Apart from the Japanese occupation that we know about, there were many other struggles. For example,
In Malaysia:
[Early kingdoms]
Gangga Negara (2nd–11th)
Langkasuka (2nd–14th)
Pan Pan (3rd–5th)
Srivijaya (7th–13th)
Kedah Kingdom (630-1136)
[The rise of Muslim states]
Kedah Sultanate (1136–present)
Malacca Sultanate (1402–1511)
Sulu Sultanate (1450–1899)
Johor Sultanate (1528–present)
European colonialism
Portuguese Malacca (1511-1641)
Dutch Malacca (1641-1824)
Straits Settlements (1826–1946)
British Malaya (1874–1946)
Federated Malay States (1895–1946)
Unfederated Malay States (1909–1946)
Kingdom of Sarawak (1841–1946)
North Borneo (1882–1963)
In Indonesia:
Srivijaya (3rd century–14th century)
Sailendra (8th Century – 832)
Kingdom of Mataram (752–1045)
Kediri (1045–1221)
The spread of Islam (1200-1600)
Singhasari (1222–1292)
Majapahit Empire (1293–1500)
Malacca Sultanate (1400–1511)
Aceh Sultanate
Sultanate of Demak (1475–1518)
Mataram Sultanate (1500s to 1700s)
Dutch East Indies (1602–1945)
Anglo-Dutch Java War (1810–1811)
Padri War (1821–1837)
Java War (1825–1830)
Aceh War (1873–1904)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Indonesia Now, the Malay archipelago is a very large area. Would this mean that I will never really get to know my place of origin?
So, Who is Malay?
“Melayu ethnicity was never predetermined but was contested on both sides of the Straits of Melaka.”
Extract: The search for the origins of ‘Melayu’, by Leonard Y Andaya, published by the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, October 2001.
The early migration
The first groups of humans, some of whom eventually became Malays, began migrating out of Taiwan in 4000 – 3000 BCE. Others have suggested eastern China as the springboard.
They first went over to Luzon and other Philippine islands and then by about 2000 BCE, reached northern Borneo. Other groups drifted southwards to Mindanao, Sulawesi, the Malukus, and eventually eastern and central Java.
The beginning of Malay culture
Language is one thing, genetic ethnicity is another, but culture is a separate thing again. There is a general consensus that Malay culture began with the Sri Vijaya kingdom, the first significant polity to use Malay. This kingdom was situated in southeast Sumatra.
Other historians add that Jambi was equally a centre of Malay civilisation in those early days. At times, Jambi might have been a part of Sri Vijaya, at other times independent. Interestingly, a Chola-Tanjore inscription of 1030 CE clearly distinguishes between ‘Sri Vijaya’ and a land called ‘Malaiyur’, which is believed to be Jambi. It is also believed that they planted settlements on the Malayan side of the Straits, e.g. in Kedah, and in other parts of the Indonesian archipelago, to collect valuable local produce that could be traded with China, India and the Angkor empire.
In the late 14th century, with the collapse of Sri Vijaya, a prince from Palembang, probably under pressure from the more powerful Javanese, fled across to the Malayan peninsula, and established a new base at Malacca. From this point on, the political construction of ‘Malay’ began. Malacca had a brief flowering of about 100 years before the Portuguese came and conquered it.
However, to this day, the Malaysian national story uses the Malacca state as the launching pad of Malay and Malaysian identity. The fact that the peninsula was perhaps more Mon-Khmer than Malay prior to the 14th century has largely been erased.
Language
In Malaysia, the national language is Malay; in Indonesia, it is Indonesian. The Malaysians tend to assert that Malay and Indonesian are merely different varieties of the same language, while the Indonesians tend to treat them as separate, albeit related, languages.
Does speaking Indonesian make Indonesians Malay?
The Malaysians do recognise finer distinctions between Malay and other indigenous peoples, such as the Kadazan, the Penan and the Murut of Sarawak and Sabah (the Borneo part of Malaysia). But one detects a tendency to treat the notion of ‘Malay’ as both the core and reference group, as well as a general term encompassing all the indigenous people stretching from Southern Thailand to the Malukus.
The Indonesians are quite comfortable being Indonesian at one level, and Javanese, Dayak, Balinese, Acehnese, etc, at another level. In fact, the underlying political agenda is the need to keep the concept of Indonesia inclusive of a multitude of ethnic and linguistic communities spread across 17,000 islands. To overemphasise Malayness would be alienating and divisive, just as to overemphasise Javanese identity and culture.
Note: Singapore is neither Malaysia nor Indonesia.
At some stage the Malay archipelago was called the Indian archipelago (www.wku.edu/~smithch/wallace/S078.htm), which also accounts for the introduction of Hinduism.
Apart from the Japanese occupation that we know about, there were many other struggles. For example,
In Malaysia:
[Early kingdoms]
Gangga Negara (2nd–11th)
Langkasuka (2nd–14th)
Pan Pan (3rd–5th)
Srivijaya (7th–13th)
Kedah Kingdom (630-1136)
[The rise of Muslim states]
Kedah Sultanate (1136–present)
Malacca Sultanate (1402–1511)
Sulu Sultanate (1450–1899)
Johor Sultanate (1528–present)
European colonialism
Portuguese Malacca (1511-1641)
Dutch Malacca (1641-1824)
Straits Settlements (1826–1946)
British Malaya (1874–1946)
Federated Malay States (1895–1946)
Unfederated Malay States (1909–1946)
Kingdom of Sarawak (1841–1946)
North Borneo (1882–1963)
In Indonesia:
Srivijaya (3rd century–14th century)
Sailendra (8th Century – 832)
Kingdom of Mataram (752–1045)
Kediri (1045–1221)
The spread of Islam (1200-1600)
Singhasari (1222–1292)
Majapahit Empire (1293–1500)
Malacca Sultanate (1400–1511)
Aceh Sultanate
Sultanate of Demak (1475–1518)
Mataram Sultanate (1500s to 1700s)
Dutch East Indies (1602–1945)
Anglo-Dutch Java War (1810–1811)
Padri War (1821–1837)
Java War (1825–1830)
Aceh War (1873–1904)

Now, the Malay Archipelago is a very large area. Would this mean that I will never really get to know my ancestral links?

So, who is Malay?

“Melayu ethnicity was never predetermined but was contested on both sides of the Straits of Melaka.”

Extract: The search for the origins of ‘Melayu’, by Leonard Y Andaya, published by the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, October 2001.

The early migration

The first groups of humans, some of whom eventually became Malays, began migrating out of Taiwan in 4000 – 3000 BCE. Others have suggested eastern China as the springboard.

They first went over to Luzon and other Philippine islands and then by about 2000 BCE, reached northern Borneo. Other groups drifted southwards to Mindanao, Sulawesi, the Malukus, and eventually eastern and central Java.

The beginning of Malay culture

Language is one thing, genetic ethnicity is another, but culture is a separate thing again. There is a general consensus that Malay culture began with the Sri Vijaya kingdom, the first significant polity to use Malay. This kingdom was situated in southeast Sumatra.

Other historians add that Jambi was equally a centre of Malay civilisation in those early days. At times, Jambi might have been a part of Sri Vijaya, at other times independent. Interestingly, a Chola-Tanjore inscription of 1030 CE clearly distinguishes between ‘Sri Vijaya’ and a land called ‘Malaiyur’, which is believed to be Jambi. It is also believed that they planted settlements on the Malayan side of the Straits, e.g. in Kedah, and in other parts of the Indonesian archipelago, to collect valuable local produce that could be traded with China, India and the Angkor empire.

In the late 14th century, with the collapse of Sri Vijaya, a prince from Palembang, probably under pressure from the more powerful Javanese, fled across to the Malayan peninsula, and established a new base at Malacca. From this point on, the political construction of ‘Malay’ began. Malacca had a brief flowering of about 100 years before the Portuguese came and conquered it.

However, to this day, the Malaysian national story uses the Malacca state as the launching pad of Malay and Malaysian identity. The fact that the peninsula was perhaps more Mon-Khmer than Malay prior to the 14th century has largely been erased.

Language

In Malaysia, the national language is Malay; in Indonesia, it is Indonesian. The Malaysians tend to assert that Malay and Indonesian are merely different varieties of the same language, while the Indonesians tend to treat them as separate, albeit related, languages.

Does speaking Indonesian make Indonesians Malay?

The Malaysians seem to recognise finer distinctions between Malay and other indigenous peoples, such as the Kadazan, the Penan and the Murut of Sarawak and Sabah (the Borneo part of Malaysia). But one detects a tendency to treat the notion of ‘Malay’ as both the core and reference group, as well as a general term encompassing all the indigenous people stretching from Southern Thailand to the Malukus.

The Indonesians are quite comfortable being Indonesian at one level, and Javanese, Dayak, Balinese, Acehnese, etc, at another level. In fact, the underlying political agenda is the need to keep the concept of Indonesia inclusive of a multitude of ethnic and linguistic communities spread across 17,000 islands. To overemphasise Malayness would be alienating and divisive, just as to overemphasise Javanese identity and culture.

Note: Singapore is neither Malaysia nor Indonesia.

At some stage the Malay archipelago was called the Indian archipelago (www.wku.edu/~smithch/wallace/S078.htm), which also accounts for the introduction of Hinduism.

Apart from the Japanese occupation that we know about, there were many other struggles. For example,

(In Malaysia:)

Early kingdoms

Gangga Negara (2nd–11th)

Langkasuka (2nd–14th)

Pan Pan (3rd–5th)

Srivijaya (7th–13th)

Kedah Kingdom (630-1136)

The rise of Muslim states

Kedah Sultanate (1136–present)

Malacca Sultanate (1402–1511)

Sulu Sultanate (1450–1899)

Johor Sultanate (1528–present)

European colonialism

Portuguese Malacca (1511-1641)

Dutch Malacca (1641-1824)

Straits Settlements (1826–1946)

British Malaya (1874–1946)

Federated Malay States (1895–1946)

Unfederated Malay States (1909–1946)

Kingdom of Sarawak (1841–1946)

North Borneo (1882–1963)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Malaysia


(In Indonesia:)

Early kingdoms

Tarumanagara (358-723)

Srivijaya (7th to 13th centuries)

Sailendra (8th to 9th centuries)

Kingdom of Sunda (669-1579)

Kingdom of Mataram (752–1045)

Kediri (1045–1221)

Singhasari (1222–1292)

Majapahit (1293–1500)

The rise of Muslim states

The spread of Islam (1200–1600)

Malacca Sultanate (1400–1511)

Sultanate of Demak (1475–1518)

Aceh Sultanate (1496–1903)

Sultanate of Banten (1526–1813)

Mataram Sultanate (1500s to 1700s)

European colonialism

The Portuguese (1512–1850)

Dutch East India Co. (1602–1800)

Dutch East Indies (1800–1942)

Anglo-Dutch Java War (1810–1811)

Padri War (1821–1837)

Java War (1825–1830)

Aceh War (1873–1904)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Indonesia

It seems that it’s going to be far easier to just call myself a South African Cape Malay, but how does all this fit into a South African context?

Perhaps I should categorise it into traditional, alienation, assimilation and reclamation.

I reckon that once you begin to rediscover yourself, you start to leave a mark (plant the seed) from where things develop and grow amidst the globalisation and increasing pluralism.


One Response to “Who are the Malays?”

  1. Toyer said

    Click on the following links:

    Cape Malays re-invent identity in post-apartheid era,

    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=16713

    Conflict of Identities: The Case of South Africa’s Cape Malays – An Imagined Community in South Africa,

    http://phuakl.tripod.com/eTHOUGHT/capemalays2.htm

    Rather than carrying “The Burden of Race”, what is the emerging story here – “Racialism vs Cultural Diversity”, “Multiculturism vs Cultural Relativism” or “Muslim Cultures vs The Islamic Culture”?

    If muslim cultures can sit alongside cultural relativism, would an Islamic culture be considered as cultural relativism?

    http://toyer-farrath.blogspot.com/2008/12/islamic-culture-is-not-cultural.html

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