When you visit wonderful Sabah, you will be struck at the rich diversity of the people of Sabah. There are over 32 groups of Sabah people who make up this multicultural State. The Sabah people consist of the Kadazandusun, Murut, Bajau, Rungus, Suluk, Kadayan and many more. The 32 group listing of Sabah people are just simply too numerous to mention by name! The rich cultural heritage of the people of Sabah is sure to dazzle and amaze you as you visit the land below the wind.
Let us start with the largest group of Sabah native. The Kadazandusun, being the largest of the Sabah people group, makes up 30 percent of Sabah population. The Kadazandusun traditionally work as paddy and vegetable planters. The Kadazandusun ancestral heartland lies in the hill and upland valley. One notable feature of the Kadazundusun culture is the unique Harvest Festival where these Sabah native would give thanks to the Rice Spirit for a bountiful harvest. The Harvest Festival, or Kaamatan in the Kadazandusun Sabah native tongue, is a public holiday in Sabah.
The second largest group of Sabah people is the Bajau people who are well-known as Sabah’s own cowboy horsemen. Traditionally this people of Sabah are originally seafaring nomads. This unique Sabah native people mainly live in the coastal area around Kota Kinabalu, Kota Belud and Semporna area. The Bajau expertise in horse riding is legendary throughout Sabah. One interesting feature about the Bajau people is that their horses even have their own costumes and are even better dressed than the riders. These native of Sabah are also famous for their beautifully woven needle works and handicrafts. If you are around the areas where these unique Sabah native people live do take the opportunity to appreciate their rich and varied culture.
If you happen to be in the interior division of Sabah, you will encounter the delightful Murut people, the third largest group of Sabah people in this multi-ethnic state. The name Murut means hill people. It is believed that the Murut are the oldest tribe that ever lived in Sabah. A large number of these Sabah native live in the towns of Sook, Keningau, Tenom and Nabawan. This diverse Sabah tribe speaks over 15 languages with 21 varieties of dialect. Like the Dayak of Sarawak, the Murut people were feared in the past as skilled headhunters and they also dwelt in longhouses. One interesting cultural feature of this Sabah tribe you should not miss watching in the traditional Murut bamboo dance. You will assuredly be captivated by the performances.
Apart from these three largest Sabah tribe, you’d also have the indigenous Bugis, Kedayan, Bisaya, Lundayeh, Suluk, Rungus and many more Sabah native people living along them. It would undoubtedly take you a long time to discover these entire friendly Sabah native who lives in peace with one another.
Regardless of which Sabah tribe you spend your time with, you will find that all of them are very warm and welcoming towards visitors. Why don’t you experience the magical cultural pot-pourri of multi-ethnic Sabah now and be forever captivated by its rich and unique diversity!