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November 1, 2017

Fantasy and Reality Clash

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I have had to accept two worlds. The seen and the unseen. The seen world is one that everybody in this area knows about: blue skies, muddy rivers, green trees and thunderstorms. People and children laughing and playing and going to work or school.


This is the world I have always lived in and, as a biologist, have been trained to observe.


Now we get to the unseen world. This world is occupied by ghosts, magical cures and amulets. It is a world that I have been familiar with but totally reject. I find it all a bit amusing and frustrating.


The Bidayuh are a good example. They are a tribe of incredibly beautiful people. All of them. The women are a cure for impotence. They have sun tanned skin, black hair and facial features that would make the most outstanding Miss America blush with shame. They were also head hunters, but that was about World War II time.


I have been tracking these people for a history I have been researching. The first stopping point is Christianity. Recent converts, in the last 200 years or so, some just 25 five years, they don't believe there was anything before then. Christianity is the starting point of their lives. Nothing happened before then. All the old stories were erased from their memory.


The next stopping point to the Bidayu comes from the village elders, who would talk with me about the origins. They believe they came from central Borneo, from a place where a couple came down out of the sky and hid in a cave. They then reproduced. Others believe flying saucers dropped them off.


Another researcher, in the early 2000's recorded some early tales which included the name Santubong. The tales were of the most unbelievable sort, but the name Santubong was there and I could only conclude that they must have been there or else why would a farfetched story say they were?


Now we get to DNA science. The results of their tests was that the Bidayuh came here 30,000 to 10,000 BC from mainland Southeast Asia. So far, so good. But now, they insist they were a mixture of African blood. This makes absolutely no sense to me as I have seem hundreds of Bidayuh and not one had any African characteristics. Malays yes. Bidayuh's no.


So, I am a bit confused with the DNA perspectives. He only did 17 Bidayuhs and perchance a Malay snuck in there. Something like "Hi, can I get a blood sample? I will pay you.


Can I claim one part of the DNA study that they came from here 30,000-10,000 BC and not the other, which says their mixed with the Africans? I don't know. I have tried to track down the guy who did the study and he is in Japan and won't answer my e-mails. Just recently (2017) he published a chapter in a book saying the same thing.


Obviously many more DNA studies need to be undertaken among the Bidayuh to tell where they come from. I don't have the money or the collecting expertise to begin such a project. Any ideas?


Oh, by the way, I am a member of the ACLU and NAACP so don't get these organizations in your head.


...Life is good. . . . .


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