Do you know that the Sabah state anthem was aired over Radio Sabah for the very first time on 19 July 1963? It was performed by the North Borneo Police Force and broadcast 43 days before Sabah was granted self-rule by the British government.
The Government, still British then, held a competition which attracted 35 entries. The winning entry was composed by Mr Henri Boniface Hermann (1888 - 1964). He was a Pole and grew up in Poland before he became a citizen of Singapore.
The following is the anthem and its official translation:
Negeri kita yang tercinta
Bangunlah bersatu semua
Marilah bersama serta maju jaya
Merdeka sepanjang masa
Bersatu segala bangsa sentosa
Sabah negeri merdeka.
Sabah, my homeland
Our beloved state
Men and women, come
Come together to be successful
Always staying independent
Unite all, nation prospers
Sabah, the independent state.
It's a pity that many Malaysian youngsters (and even learned oldsters!) are confused about the date of Sabah's independence. Apparently, they have been led to believe that Sabah gained independence on 31 August 1957. Wrong, people!
I got the following information from the North Borneo Herald, a blog I came across, and want to share it with you. Of course I've known the details all along because I was already in Primary Six when the British granted self-rule to Sabah on 31 August 1963. And history was also one of the subjects we had to learn.
A history of Sabah: a quick lesson for you!
Original name: State of North Borneo (founded in 1881)
9 July 1963: Name changed to Sabah
31 August 1963: Sabah becomes independent
16 September 1963: Sabah together with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore merge to form a new country called the Federation of Malaysia
Kudat: Capital of Sabah 1881 - 1883
Sandakan: Capital of Sabah 1883 - 1946
The Twenty Points: Conditions set by Sabah for the formation of Malaysia (available on Wikipedia)
Malaysia Agreement 1963: The document that became the basis for the formation of Malaysia (available from Government Printing Office in Jalan Tuaran, KK)
30 September 1968: The name of Sabah's capital Jesselton changed to Kota Kinabalu
Henri Boniface Hermann (1888 - 1964): Composed Sabah state anthem
Datuk Donald Stephens: The first Chief Minister of Sabah
Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun: The first Yang Di-Negara of Sabah (not yang dipertua negeri)
1967: Sabah held its first state elections
The North Borneo Armed Constabulary: The name of the Sabah State Police before Malaysia was formed
North Borneo Herald: The first newspaper in Sabah since 1883
North Borneo News: Newspaper under the British government 1946 - 1949
Sabah Times: The first newspaper published by a local, Donald Stephens, in 1949
I hope I've been able to help clear some confusion especially regarding the day Sabah gained independence as well as the day Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya merged to form a new nation, Malaysia.
Every time you sing our state anthem, please say a silent prayer and ask the Almighty to bless our homeland so we'll continue to live in harmony in spite of our ethnic, religious and cultural diversities.
I guess it's not too late to say 'Happy birthday, Malaysia!'