We Yearn for the Sounds of the Forest


"We yearn for the sounds of the forest. We have always heard these sounds. In the time of our grandparents long ago we heard these sounds. That is why we still yearn to hear them. In those times long ago, our lives were satisfying, our lives were fulfilled. And now it is harder for us, because we hear the sound of bulldozers. And that is what we always talk about, we women, when we get together. How will we live, how will we thrive, now that we have all these new problems. To us the sound of bulldozers is the sound of death. We feel sorrowful, we weep, when we see the forest that has been destroyed, when we see the red land. Tusa na'an' tana' bala, kebit kebit urip jin sahau, b'é pun tana' bala, b'é pun tusa. It is hard for us to look at the red land."

Lejeng Kusin, Ubong River, May 1993

A larger picture of the young women at the bathing stream. (63K, JPEG)

"...They have entered our area, they have invaded our rivers, they have made them dirty and muddy, they have trespassed on our forest paths. And up until this very moment we remain weighed down with hardship and poverty. And as I am speaking these words, our life is not good. Surely we live here peacefully, and they have no cause for destroying our forest, they have no cause for destroying our land. They have no cause for making our rivers muddy. They never told us, 'Now we are going to demolish your sago, now we are going to destroy your rivers, your hills, your land, your home. Now we are going to obliterate your rattan, and all the other things you get from the forest. All the fruit trees. The place where you Penan live.' They never spoke to us thus. Instead, they acted without warning, straightway they destroyed everything."

Wé Salau, the old headman, Baa' Bila, April 1993 <

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