Kampung Hakka Mantin-A disappearing heritage

 

Preserving the history and rich heritage of the century-old Kampung Hakka in Mantin near Seremban.

 

“The demolition of old and historical settlements in the country in the name of development is a wake-up call to all of us”. It is important that we preserve them because future generations need to know that this country was built by all races.

 

Kampung Hakka was a settlement of working class migrants from China who traced their roots to Huizhou in Guangdong.

About 300 families once occupied the village which is considered to be among the older Hakka settlements in the country.

Today, only 32 families still live there as the village has been partly developed after it was sold. Many make a living by selling fruits, vegetables and herbs from their tiny gardens or rear birds to be sold at pet shops in the city. Some even sell bundles of old newspapers to nearby orchards to wrap and protect fruits still hanging on the trees.

While most of them just want to be allowed to spend their remaining years in the only homes they know, there are some who do not want to see their personal history wiped out.

 

I truly had an out of this world experience! I had the opportunity to ride a bicycle (last rode a bicycle when I was 16 years old) a little ‘shaky shaky’ but thanked my lucky stars, I managed to get a grip of myself! It was a fun day, hubby and I arrived at Kampung Hakka at 4pm and was warmly welcomed with arms wide open by Madam Seong Foong Chan, a Rakan Mantin member, to the Village’s Interpretative Centre. Rakan Mantin was put together by Victor, with the collaboration of Chan Seong Foon, in September 2012. They wanted to support the residents’ rights to continue living in their village by raising awareness of the history of the Kg Hakka within their own community as well as to outsiders (Community arts, 2014).

The Interpretative Centre is the home of Chong Tze Yaw and has belonged to his family for six generations. The old house has been renovated and is used as a small exhibition hall, where old pictures and documentation of residents’ stories are on display.

 

The agenda for the day included a Bicycle tour through the village and we were pleased to meet more villagers who shared with us their life stories, including the delightful Grandmas Kok and Lee who run Mah-jong game tables in their homes. A grocery store, an impressive Church under the name of St Aloysius built in 1900 as well as a Chinese temple also over 100 years old were included in our tour, kindly guided by Eddy.  She gave us a brief tour, with so much information for me to digest and dozens and dozens of amazing photographs, explaining the history and details of Kampung Hakka. Minutes later, we went for a journey back into time…….

 

At the end of the tour and in conjunction of Chap Goh Mei, they hosted dinner with a few performances, Lion dance performance and also fireworks!  we enjoyed the scrumptious feast prepared by the Kg Hakka ladies.

 

The Kg Hakka villagers, with the support of Victor Chin, Seong Foong Chan and the other members of Rakan Mantin, welcome visitors and encourage them to participate in social events organized in the village. The goal is to exchange the villagers’ stories with the visitors, emphasizing a two-way experience, much like visiting a new friend´s home and avoiding turning it into a showcase.

 

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