Day 3 – Nationalism in Ex-Colony Countries

Something I wrote in a quick email to folks in London (I went to type “home” but thought, “Hm, is it?”) earlier today:

So there’s this typhoon somewhere in the region bringing unprecedented rains to where I am. Global warming is real, folks. Severe weather warnings for the next 48 hours but this being Malaysia the deaths of illegal migrants and undocumented folk on building sites due to landslides caused by freakish weather are not being reported etc. GARGH.

Today it didn’t rain so I got to eat some tastier food. I also went to a super interesting book event/launch which documents Malaysia’s pre-independence culture and history through songs and music. I was surprised at how emotional I felt. I didn’t know that I knew these songs (there was a band) until I heard them, and then I realised how much my taste in music and in singing was shaped by this musical history. There were a lot of songs with nationalistic sounding lyrics but they didn’t feel bad or negative to me. They made me feel sad for the turmoil the country is going through now, and for the forgotten efforts of the founding fathers of Malaysia – we heard a bit about how Radio Malaya was set up and how musicians got taught how to read music, how we have fusion sounds like keranchut slow trot, how swing was big. There was so much happiness and dancing and jazz and Latin music! And there was an archive made of buffalo, indigenous people’s sounds, etc but the government servants have been selling off these original records to collectors make a quick buck. SO SAD.


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