Land Below The Wind – Agnes Keith


This is a well known expression here in Sabah, Borneo and a often mentioned.
Where does the expression com from? How come its so famous and Who made it a such a well known expression?

Malaysia has many treasures and one of them we found is Agnes Keith. She was an american author and journalist who lived in Sabah, Borneo from the end of 1934 to the beginning of 1952.

Agnes Keith
Agnes Keith

We got curious and wanted to know more about this exciting woman who lived under a longer period in Borneo and made such an impact on people that she still is famous today.
How did she end up in Borneo?

Agnes Keith was born in Illinois, USA in july 1901. After meeting Henry Keith an englishman (later known as Harry) and marrying him she followed him back to Borneo in 1934. Harry was Conservator of Forests and Director of Agriculture for the government of British North Borneo (nowdays known as Sabah) under the Chartered Company and was also Honorary Curator of the State Museum.

Their home in Sabah was Sandakan on the east coast of Sabah. While Harry was away on his many trips and adventures all over Sabah Agnes chosed to write about her new land. She always kept a diary and could easily collect her notes. The title of Agnes’ first book about the North Borneo (now known as Sabah), LAND BELOW THE WIND (1939), has become the unofficial motto of Sabah. The phrase was used by sailors to describe all the lands south of the typhoon belt, but Agnes Keith popularized the special connection of the phrase with Sabah, by applying it exclusively to North Borneo in her book.

She makes a vivid picture of the land she came to love. People, culture, adventures and her daily life gives us a picture of how life was here in Sabah back then. It was followed by THREE CAME HOME (1947), which focused on hardships suffered in the Second World War, and was subsequently made into a Hollywood movie, and the third book was WHITE MAN RETURNS (1951), which tells of her life in Sandakan after the war.

All throughout her books Agnes Keith used her own drawings to make a more vivid picture of her adventures. Here is some of them:

View from Hilltop – Sandakan
Hilltop - Sandakan

Native boats

Native Boats

Agnes Keith house was destroyed by Japanese (during 2nd world war). It was rebuilt 1946/47. The Department of Sabah Museum under the supervision of MS Stella Moo-Tan taking care of it now.

Agnes Keith house as it looks today
Agnes Keith house

You must admire this woman – at least we do. She came from convenience to a small tropical place on the other side of the earth. No aircondition – or the facilities we’re so used to today. Many times she suffered from Malaria and other tropical diseases. One thing is for sure – Her coming to Borneo was not as convienant as our trip was. In her time you traveled by boat for weeks!

Still her love for this country and the people really shine through when she writes. She came to love Sabah and Borneo just as we have too!
In 1952 Agnes Keith left Borneo – she died at age 80 in British Columbia, Canada

This is written by my wife Catarina Berg. She is a Marketer & co owner of Together with her husband Stefan Berg. She inspire, educate and help people to progress in their Online Business. Since early spring she lives in exotic Borneo, Malaysia.

Another project of hers is Borneobloggen where she share what happens on Borneo. Adventures around the Island and daily life in Kota Kinabalu – capital of Sabah, Borneo.
See how it is possible to be Living in Malaysia and travel in this wonderful country

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Who Is Lat? – Living in Malaysia

Do you know who Mohammad Nor Khalid or Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid?

We didn´t when we moved here to Malaysia from Sweden almost a year ago.
If you are born in Southeast Asia you probably do. Known as Lat, he is one of the most famous cartoon artists here in Asia. Even Air Asia, the big low cost airline use his pictures on the planes!

Mohammad Nor Khalid – also known as Lat

He was born in Kota Baru, Perak, Malaysia in 1951 and grew up in a Kampung – small village. In early age he started drawing and got attention for his humorous pictures that spot on showed life and culture of Malaysia.

He moved to Kuala Lumpur in 1970. Lat was offered a position to join the New Straits Times as a crime reporter, but later on he became a cartoonist.
Since then he been published many comic books and he is highly appreciated by many million people throughout Southeast Asia.

His first book Kampung Boy, an autobiography of his life was published in 1979.

              Kampung Boy

What is a Kampung?

The term kampung (sometimes spelling kampong) in the English language has been defined specifically as “a Malay hamlet or village in a Malay-speaking country”.

In other words, a kampung is defined today as a village in Brunei, Indonesia or Malaysia. In Malaysia, a kampung is determined as a locality with 10,000 or fewer people. Since historical times, every Malay village came under the leadership of a penghulu (village chief), who has the power to hear civil matters in his village.

A Malay village typically contains a “masjid” (mosque) or “surau” (Muslim chapel), paddy fields and Malay houses on stilts. Malay and Indonesian villagers practice the culture of helping one another as a community, which is better known as “joint bearing of burdens” (gotong royong), as well as being family-oriented. Especially the concept of respecting one’s family, particularly the parents and elders.

It’s a privilegie to live in multi-racial Malaysia and we learn new things everyday . We appreciate and recognize the culture more and more. Reading Lat is an easy way of widen and integrate into our new land. Thats why we also want to share this with you.

Lat peers into a multiracial society with Malay, Chinese and Indian Culture mixed together. 20% of Malaysias people are chinese 10 % are Indians. Here in Borneo there is also 10 % Natives or even called Culture groups.

It’s very exciting and interesting mix that gives Malaysia its character and charm.
Moving from Sweden – a cold country in north of Europe to Exotic Tropical Borneo has been an adventure. Lat – is just one of Malaysias many treasures we found since we moved here.

There is much more to explore about Malaysia. Mt Kinabalu in Sabah- Orangutangs in Sepilok – Kuala Lumpur – why Borneo is a wonderful place to live and much more…

Click on The picture…(Upper Left) Catarina and Stefan Work With Us!
and read more if you wonder how it is possible for us to stay in Malaysia.
We love Living In Malaysia.

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