The world population is now approaching 7.1 billion, out of which two thirds are Asians, one quarter Chinese and about 300 million Malays (Dr. Gimfil James, 1997). It is estimated that there are still 15,000 indigenous cultures of about 370 million indigenous peoples left in the world today, but these indigenous cultures are currently fading away faster than realized. This apparent cultural fadeout can be partially gauged by the dying languages of the world. Mother tongues are ethnic cultural souls so the Malay proverb says: Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa. Approximately 6,000 languages (indigenous cultural souls) are still being spoken today, but fifty percent of these world’s languages are no longer propagated to the next generation and within these lot, our Kadazandusun culture and language are among those that are rapidly being eroded by modern-mixed dominant cultures and languages.
Malaysia’s population is currently approaching 28 million. Sabah has an unofficial population of approximately 3.2 million of which only 31 percent (about 1 milion) are Kadazandusuns, a unique existence among numerous other world’s indigenous peoples.
Mostly rural, the Kadazandusuns have always tended to live a rather complacent traditional lifestyle as compared to the new immigrants who vigorously hunt for and grab all available opportunities of life as means of survival at first and later as a habit to succeed and progress.
As a result of rapid social change and modernization, the Kadazandusuns do feel and experience the marginalization effects upon their cultural existence in all aspects. They do realize that their indigenous knowledge, language, oral history and tradition are fading out and unless definitive appropriate actions are taken to reverse the situation their cultural heritage will soon fade out, as more dominant modern cultures set in to replace the old. KDCA is thus strongly regarded by the Kadazandusuns as their cultural home of harmonious unity, through which they can pool and channel their individual and collective efforts and resources to preserve, develop and promote their cultural heritage.
At a time when indigenous peoples of the world are becoming more and more involved in shaping a borderless cyber world, the Kadazandusuns must strive to ensure their existential relevance and play effectively their role as co-partners in local, national and global development at all levels and in all fields now and ever onwards.