Sabahan invited to witness anniversary of Hungarian Uprising


KOTA KINABALU: The Hungarian Government has invited a Sabahan folk singer for 12 lines of a poem he penned in 1966, in Kadazan (urban Dusun), in memory of the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 against communist rule.

Justin Stimol, and his wife, will be guests of the Hungarian Government for the poem, Kahagaasan (Freedom), which was published on page 294 in a red book, “Gloria Victis 1956”.

They will be at a ceremony on October 23 at Kossuth Square, Budapest, to commemorate the Revolution and Freedom Flight 1956, according to a report in the Daily Express.

The letter from the Hungarian Government, signed by Prof Maria Schmidt, said the ceremony on October 23 will honour the international guests who supported the emigrants of 1956. The emigrants refer to the 200,000 people who fled Hungary in 1956, in the wake of an uprising, to escape communist rule.

Delving into the background of the poem he penned, Justin recalled that it was done at the request of Fred Sinidol, his boss at Radio Sabah. Sinidol wanted a poem in Kadazan, with a translation in English.

Sinidol apparently made the request at the suggestion of another government officer, Simon Sipaun – later Sabah Secretary – who had a Hungarian friend working at the Queen Elizabeth II General Hospital in Kota Kinabalu. The Hungarian was just known as “Tutor Martin”.

“I can’t recall Martin’s first name,” said Sipaun. “It was in 1966 that I got married and also the year I met Martin.”

“He was a tutor at the hospital, most probably in nursing.”

Sipaun remembers being invited by Martin for dinner at his government quarters. “He had a cat which he called Simon,” said Sipaun. “It was probably at this dinner that Martin requested for a poem in the local language.”

“The only ‘poet’ I knew at that time was Justin.”

Justin, who said that he was no poet, explained that Kahagaasan was based on the beauty of nature as he saw it in Penampang, a rural Dusun cul de sac in the outskirts of greater Kota Kinabalu.

He added that line seven and eight, roughly translates as “The threats from the most vicious eagle, to the small creatures, have gone.”