Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Earthquake in Borneo


In this down-to-earth world in which we live, the supernatural seems a long way away.

But there are times in Jerusalem when you feel that all is not logical, and strange things do happen.

Maybe that’s why my attention has raced away to the top of a mountain in Borneo which has just been struck by a major earthquake.

Some 16 people have died at latest count on Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia at some 4,100 meters and a mountain of magnificent appearance.

It stands in stately fashion, dominating the skyline of the Malaysian state of Sabah.

It was in the British colony of North Borneo when I climbed it more than 50 years ago.

In those days one could not imagine a team of westerners climbing that mountain, stripping naked and taking photos of themselves as they stood on the gray stone cap of the mountain.

But that’s what happened a few days before the earthquake.

So what shall we say – that the mountain was angry? Or rather, the spirits that live there according to local belief?

Anyway, the Malaysians are furious at what they see as an insult to their land.

It was more circumspect 50 years ago when a friend and I decided to make the climb.

We negotiated in a village at the foot of the mountain.

These were the Dusun people, the largest indigenous group in North Borneo, a sparsely inhabited piece of South East Asian jungle in which there were many different peoples.

The British had asked us to make arrangements with the Dusun because they believed that the souls of their dead went up to the top of Kinabula for their afterlife, and the Brits thought we should be careful not to offend anyone’s feelings.

The village people were well prepared to negotiate and when we set off we found ourselves with three porters to carry our scant luggage, and two religious men whose job was to appease the spirits.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Earthquake in Borneo
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