Malaysia Southeast Asia Travel

Teratak Za’ba, Negeri Sembilan – In Memory Of A National Scholar

We learn of him in history books, but ask many young Malaysians and they probably can’t tell you who Za’ba was. Which is a shame, because the contributions he made to the country and the Malay language are phenomenal.

Born Zainal Abidin Ahmad in 1895, young Za’ba displayed an affinity for languages and knowledge from a tender age. He became the first Malay to pass the Senior Cambridge test in 1915, when Malaya was still under British colonial rule. Through the years, he played the role of scholar and educator, teaching at various schools whilst writing essays. He wrote the Pelita Bahasa – a series of monographs which became the basis of the modern Malay language that we use today – and his social commentaries in newspapers and magazines contributed to the rise of nationalism, subtly influencing the way to independence. The pen is mightier than the sword, indeed.

20181017_112929

Za’ba was born in Batu Kikir in Negeri Sembilan. Teratak Za’ba – a museum and monument to his legacy – was opened here in 2001, to honour his memory and contributions. The museum is done to resemble a traditional Negeri Sembilan Malay house, the likes of which are difficult to find today, and is well worth a visit if you’re in the area – if not for the history then the architecture.

20181017_113016

The slightly curving roof hearkens to the state’s Minangkabau roots. The building sits on stilts and is made of chengal, a type of hardwood tree that is resistant to rot and weather.

20181017_113334

20181017_113731

Entering the house, it feels cool, even with the scorching heat outside. Our guide explains that the first section of the home – a spacious corridor – was basically the men’s quarters, where they would eat, sleep and convene. The inner quarters were for the women, and men were not allowed in.

20181017_113740

Photos of Za’ba through the years – family portraits, at work, snapshots of a life well lived.

20181017_113837

The museum is home to some of his personal possessions, such as his trademark round glasses, watches and clocks.

20181017_113803

Old typewriters, phones and a dressing table complete with mirror. What has it seen?

20181017_113909

I will not sully these beautiful words with translation.

20181017_113926

Books written by Za’ba.

Although small, Teratak Za’ba is worth a visit for those who like history. It also offers a glimpse into the life of a great scholar and writer, whose writing paved the way for a better future, for the nation and its people.

TERATAK ZA’BA 

Kampong Bukit Kerdas, 72100 Batu Kikir, Negeri Sembilan

Opening hours: 9AM – 6PM

Admission is free.

Advertisements

0 comments on “Teratak Za’ba, Negeri Sembilan – In Memory Of A National Scholar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: