Tuan Tuai bagi kedua


PROGRESS AND THE PROGRESS SOCIETY

IN JANUARY 1954 Wilson Went on leave to Scotland. The months since the significant Community Development Committee meeting in the summer of 1953 had been full of activity. There were now 400 families in the Progress Society, and plans had been carefully worked out to distribute fairly the labour needed to complete the buildings asked for at the inaugural meeting in June. One man from each family spent fourteen days in the jungle cutting wood and bringing it back. V/hen all this was done each family gave three days on the Scheme site to help with the actual building. Now the roofs were on the dispensary, the shop, the adult school, the mess-room and the dormitories. This part of the bargain had been fulfilled.

The more urgent matter of staff had not. John Wilson had made efforts to recruit local young men for the positions which the financial estimates now made provision for—two teachers, an agricultural assistant, a co—operative assistant and a medical dresser. There was no lack of applicants. Some of them were tried out, but none came up to standard. ft was not surprising. Wilson expected and was receiving from the Ibans a response whose strength was based on a bond of respect and common purpose. No young Chinese or Malay from the towns of Sibu, Saratok or Kuching could possibly survive the pressures of the situation. Even had they been good at the job—and most were not—the position of third party in what was at this moment an intense affair between John Wilson and the Budu Ibans would have been impossible. One after another they were found smoking in the classroom or clad in smart bazaar clothes, or simply failing in their duty, and fired.

The knowledge that it must ultimately be Britons, young men such as he had known in the Royal Air Force or in the Corps at Campbelltown, had probably been with John Wilson subconsciously a long time. Now it had come to the surface. He told no ones, but he was determined to return from this leave with a qualified male nurse and an engineer—agriculturalist.

Of course he would never have got government permission to rccruit expatriate officers to help him: the modest salaries which appeared in the estimates were for local personnel. Apart from the matter of money, it was highly unlikely that at this stage the government would have appreciated the idea of Wilson setting an expatriate team of his own, outside all control, in the jungle. So advertisements in his own name went into the appropriate newspapers and magazines in Scotland asking for young men to come out to Sarawak and help the Sea Ibans. And John Wilson’s friends and relations, as was to happen increasingly in the future, were asked to rally to the cause: to act as box numbers, to process and send on replies to his address in Glasgow, to acknowledge and dispatch forms to every applicant.

This was no light task, for there were hundreds. Suddenly, contrary to the experience of official bodies overseas, who were finding it very difficult to recruit young men, John Wilson was overwhelmed with offers to come and help. Of course there were many who could be ruled out on their letter of application alone. For those that remained Wilson had a form specially produced which they were asked to fill in. If they had been intrigued by the advertisement the form was even more fascinating. It asked questions such as, “Are you prepared to eat rice at every meal?”“Are you prepared never to go to a cinema, see a shop or have any kind of entertainment at all for the two or three years of your tour?”“Can you walk five, six, eight hours through the jungle, and back again if need be without any rest?”“Are you ready to sleep on the ground? Live in primitive conditions? Work twenty- four hours a day, seven days a week?” and—for no very obvious reason—”Can you ride a motorbike?”

The questionnaire reduced the list of applicants still further, but there yet remained sixty young men to bc interviewed. Two of those were Thomas McBride of Maybole in Ayrshire and Arthur Thwaites, whose home was in Warrington but who was working in Edinburgh.

Arthur Thwaites was reading the Nursing Mirror during his off-duty period in a mental hospital in Edinburgh when he saw the advertisement. It intrigued him, because he had never heard of Sarawah am] had no idea where it was. He was twenty— five, and in an uncharacteristically light—hearted moment he answered it.

Toni McBride, aged twenty—two and working in the Accountancy Department f Scottish Agricultural Industries, had no idea where Sarawak was either, and he misread Sea Ibans for S.E.A.—South-East Asia—-which was not so far out except that his mind was full of Kanakas, South Sea Islanders and infinitely remote coral beaches. He was young and restless, so he sat down and answered the advertisement and then went off to the public library to find out where Sarawak really was.

Both young men got back the form to fill in, and, while it did not add much to their knowledge of what they might be asked to do, it certainly fired their imaginations.

Arthur Thwaites was the first to get a letter asking him to meet Wilson for an interview in Edinburgh. He went in some trepidation, which grew as the interview drew on. He had intended to tell Wilson that he had not been serious when he replied, and to apologise for any trouble that he had caused. But as Wilson talked, describing Budu, the Iban people, the gradual building up of confidence, the beginnings of the dispensary and the desperate need for medical help, Arthur Thwaites became more and more absorbed. As Wilson began to stretch before him the possibilities—raising the level of a whole community by common effort, bringing the young men to an educational standard where they could in turn lead their own people into an independent future—he found himself captured by the breadth of this vision, and even considering the likelihood that he might, after all, accept an offer.

He was fascinated by the man in front of him, who had in turn been struck by the resemblance in Arthur Thwaites to his own younger brother. When Joim Wilson drew breath and looked at him in a way that could only mean, “Well, are you coming with me?”, Arthur, already lost, stammered out something about the staff shortage in his hospital.

Wilson said, “You may think you have a staff shortage, but in Budu there is no one.” There seemed then to Arthur Thwaites only one question which really needed an answer. He asked it. Did the people themselves really want this development and need his help? It was a question after Wilson’s heart. He answered it—and as he spoke Arthur Thwaites knew that he was totally committed to the Ibans.

Tom McBride came up for an interview on a miserable evening in early spring. Wilson had seen dozens of young men by then, and had begun to despair of finding his second helper. Tonight he had two to see, almost the last on the list. They came in together out of the rain and gloom, one of them tall, splendidly fair, with a wary, inquisitive look.

They sat down to talk. Wilson told them of the work, hard living, difficult communications, non—existent roads, many uncertainties, the Iban character with its stubborn individualism, and the meagre salary—£3o a month, with no allowances for travel, housing, family or anything else. He noticed that the fair young man was not carried away by the picture he painted, but asked direct, interested questions which indicated that he on his side was testing Wilson. As they talked the conviction grew in Wilson’s mind that this might be the person he wanted, but he was chary of making a quick decision. Unlike Arthur Thwaites, who was a qualified male nurse, Tom McBride had no special qualifications, though his work in accountancy had a tenuous connection with agriculture and he had been a transport engineer while doing his National Service. Wilson needed to be certain that this was a wise choice, not only for the sake of Budu and the work, but also because the passage money to Kuching was coming out of his own pocket, and perhaps the passage money back again if the government of Sarawak did not agree to afait accompli. He wanted to be sure that at least it would be spent on the right man.

He came down to Ayr to meet Tom McBride in his home surroundings, to see where he worked and talk to his friends. There was by now a rapport between the two men, a feeling that they were right for each other. Tom took Wilson to see his mother, a homely, cheerful Scotswoman, and the moment he met her Wilson felt convinced that her son was the man for Budu. He offered thejob, and it was accepted. Mrs McBride, who had lived all her life in one small town, had taken a shrewd look at the man who was taking her son away, and decided that he was to be trusted.

Arthur Thwaites had not quite known how he was going to break to his mother the news that he wanted to go off to the ends of the earth. So he slept on it, and at 7 a.m. next morning he telephoned to Warrington. Mrs  Thwaites answered the phone. She had never heard of Sarawak either, and at first did not know what her son was talking about. What she did know was that, though he would do them the courtesy of asking their opinion, he was likely in the end to act exactly as he wanted. Arthur heard his mother shouting up the stairs to his father, “Arthur wants to go to Sarawak, dear,” as if he had said he would like to go to Glasgow for the day. After a moment she came back to the phone and said, “Well, clear, if it’s what you want we don’t mind.”

Both these young men were aware of the circumstances of their recruitment and the doubt that hung over their acceptance in Sarawak. Neither felt any qualms or hesitations. Their confidence in Wilson, though they had known him only a matter of weeks, was absolute. Nor did the conditions of employment, the meagre salary, the isolation, give them a moment’s doubt. It was as though magnet and iron filings had sprung together to adhere with a devotion and loyalty which never wavered. When Wilson recruited Arthur  Thwaites and Tom McBride he created a team which was to work in harmony for fourteen creative years.

Nor were they young men without minds of their own. Arthur Thwaites, who looked like a ministering angel, had a core of steel in his personality, and once he had made up his mind on an issue involving moral judgements it was impossible to move him. Tom McBride, with the physique and colouring of a northern god, had a quiet, unshakeable determination and a shrewd intelligence. He was to prove a pillar of strength in times of crisis. In the choosing of them Wilson showed the same concern for the whole man that he had already demonstrated at Budu. He made a point, so far as possible, of meeting the families of his new colleagues, and involving them in the Budu story in a way that was to bear valuable fruit later on. It was part of his genius, and a powerful contribution towards the success of the enterprise, that Arthur Thwaites and Tom McBride sailed for Sarawak supported by parents were already involved in the contribution that their son were going to make to Iban development.

They met for the first time on the ship. Both possessed great outward self—control, but inwardly they must have been filled th thrilling anticipation. The five weeks’ voyage, however, was not simply to be pleasure; Wilson had a training course worked out, and from the first day they sat down to learn Iban. He also gave them intensive briefing on Iban life and customs, and no doubt of the policies and administration of the government of Sarawak. He was determined very early to start them on a hard life where time was never on their side. He was eleven years older than Arthur Thwaites and fourteen years older than Tom McBride, but in the circumstances of close comradeship this gap in age could and did disappear: what did not alter was the respect, tinged with awe, in which they held him during all the years they knew each other, sharing isolation, hardship, triumph and disaster.

The first month at sea was blissful, but as Malaya drew near Wilson began to get cold feet. The sharp edges of his differences with the government of Sarawak had been blunted during his months away from Kuchmg, but now he became daily more aware of them again. This time any friction involved not only himself, but the whole future of the two young men who had given up their careers to throw in their lot with him. Lying in his bunk at night he began to visualised the anger with which his arrival, accompanied by two unknown, unaccredited, unrequested expatriate staff, might be greeted. They could be refused entry, put straight back on to the ship and sent home. He might succeed eventually in getting his way, but much unpleasant wrangling could take place first, effectively souring for them their introduction to the country. He was determined that this must not happen, and decided to leave the ship at Port Sweetenham in Malaya and fly on alone to Kuching, thus gaining five days’ grace before Arthur and Mac arrived.

On April he arrived in Kuching to face one of the most significant battles of his career. Of course, as he had long ago discovered, if the surprise is total and the troops are already swarm—ing through the brejch, then the enemy is half—routed before the engagement is well begun. if in addition the opposition has been brought up in a tradition of gentlemanly orthodoxy, the single— minded skirmisher can often outflank and pick off his opponents one by one. Wilson was an adept skirmisher.

He walked into a hornets’ nest. There were many Europeans in Kuching who felt that this time he had gone too far, and would gladly have left him to stew in his own juice, making what terms he could with his two unwanted compatriots. The Community Development Committee was affronted at the insult to its authority and the usurping of its functions. They felt themselves being blackmailed, and resented it. The one exception was the Director of Medical Services—and for a curious reason. His Department had also been advertising in Britain for medical personnel, offering good salaries and extra benefits in the way of housing, travel, children’s holidays, etc. They had received no replies at all. Now here was John Wilson not only saying that he actually had a young male nurse arriving by the next boat, but also indicating that this young man had been selected from some hundreds of applicants. To his great credit the D.M.S. admired Wilson’s enterprise, and was prepared to commit his Department to paying Arthur Thwaites’ salary.

With this concession the battle was already almost over. It was more difficult to present Tom McBride in a   favourable professional light, but John Wilson put him forward as a teacher. There was opposition in the Education Department, jealous for their own prerogatives in the hiring and firing of staff, but the decision was finally swung in Wilson’s favoured by the Chairman of the Community Development Committee, the Acting Chief Secretary, who maintained, curiously echoing the argument of the Iban elders when Wilson first went up to Budu, that it was not possible to turn back two young men who had come so far and who were after all sorely needed.

So when Arthur Thwaites and Tom McBride landed on Kuching wharf they were met by John Wilson with official contracts already drawn up and waiting for their signatures. He had won the battle, but there were many people to whom the victory did not endear him. sons were going to make to Iban development.

They met for the first time on the ship. Both possessed great outward self-control, but inwardly they must have been filled with thrilling anticipation. The five weeks’ voyage, however, was not simply to be pleasure; Wilson had a training course worked out, and from the first day they sat down to learn Iban. He also gave them intensive briefing on Iban life and customs, and no doubt on the policies and administration of the government of Sarawak. He was determined very early to start them on a hard life where time was never on their side. He was eleven years older than Arthur Thwaites and fourteen years older than Tom McBride, but in the circumstances of close comradeship this gap in age could and did disappear: what did not alter was the respect, tinged with awe, in which they held him during all the years they knew each other, sharing isolation, hardship, triumph and disaster.

The first month at sea was blissful, but as Malaya drew near Wilson began to get cold feet. The sharp edges of his differences with the government of Sarawak had been blunted during his months away from Kuching, but now he became daily more aware of them again. This time any friction involved not only

elf, but the whole future of the two young men who had up their careers to throw in their lot with him. Lying in his at night he began to visualise the anger with which ival, accompanied by two unknown, unaccredited, unreexpatriate staff, might be greeted. They could be refused Ut straight back on to the ship and sent home. He might eventually in getting his way, but much unpleasant could take place first, effectively souring for them their :loan to the country. He was determined that this must not and decided to leave the ship at Port Sweetenham in and fly on alone to Kuching, thus gaining five days’ grace Atrthur and Mac arrived.

April he arrived in Kuching to face one of the most battles of his career. Of course, as he had long ago if the surprise is total and the troops are already swarmring through  the breach, then the enemy of half-routed before the enggagement is well begun. If in addition the opposition has been brought up in a tradition of gentlemanly orthodoxy, the single- minded skirmisher can often outflank and pick off his opponents one by one. Wilson was an adept skirmisher.

He walked into a hornets’ nest. There were many Europeans in Kuching who felt that this time he had gone too far, and would gladly have left him to stew in his own juice, making what terms he could with his two unwanted compatriots. The Community Development Committee was affronted at the insult to its authority and the usurping of its functions. They felt themselves being blackmailed, and resented it. The one exception was the Director of Medical Services—and for a curious reason. His Department had also been advertising in Britain for medical personnel, offering good salaries and extra benefits in the way of housing, travel, children’s holidays, etc. They had received no replies at all. Now here was John Wilson not only saying that he actually had a young male nurse arriving by the next boat, but also indicating that this young man had been selected from some hundreds of applicants. To his great credit the D.M.S. admired Wilson’s enterprise, and was prepared to commit his Department to paying Arthur Thwaites’ salary.

With this concession the battle was already almost over. It was more difficult to present Tom McBride in a favourable professional light, but John Wilson put him forward as a teacher. There was opposition in the Education Department, jealous for their own prerogatives in the hiring and firing of staff, but the decision was finally swung in Wilson’s favour by the Chairman of the Community Development Committee, the Acting Chief Secretary, who maintained, curiously echoing the argument of the Iban elders when Wilson first went up to Budu, that it was not possible to turn back two young men who had come so far and who were after all sorely needed.

So when Arthur Thwaites and Tom McBride landed on Kuching wharf they were met by John Wilson with official contracts already drawn up and waiting for their signatures. He had won the battle, but there were many people to whom the victory did not endear him. The three went straight up to Budu, with no time to take their bearings, shop, or meet any other Britons. Of course Budu was their goal, and Wilson himself had now been three months away and was anxious to get back. ft was also, however, policy on his part to protect his young men from the fleshpots, and perhaps the subversion, of the capital until they were in a position to judge for themselves against a background of knowledge. So they boarded the launch and arrived at Saratok the next afternoon. Messages had already gone up-river to Budu for some of the people to come down and meet them there.

The night spent in Saratok was the first contact with reality for Arthur and Mac. Remembering his own experience nearly sixteen months before, Wilson understood something of their feelings when they saw the place in which they were to sleep among the rats on the dirty floor, going out to relieve themselves amid the clouds of bluebottles which arose buzzing from piles of wormy faces. Nothing they had been told had brought home to them the conditions behind the romantic façade, and he could see the shock in their faces. To help lighten their spirits he told them that Budu, though more primitive than the small township, had the advantages of the country; it was clean, and bathing in the river was possible.

The situation was retrieved by the arrival of Empeni driving a fine long boat which flew proudly at its stern a yellow flag with a red lion rampant! The warm smile of welcome on a Iban face, the flaunting Royal Standard of Scotland displayed all unwittingly, raised Arthur and Mac’s spirits, and a summons to the District Office to receive a reprimand for flying a forbidden flag did not depress them again. Only Empeni, deprived of his boat’s decoration for a reason that he did not understand, was difficult to pacify, and no doubt considered the rather more common Union Jack no adequate substitute.

Early next morning they embarked on the canoe, along with the baggage, of which there was a good deal as Wilson had not been idle during his days in the capital. The water was iow and the boat heavily laden, so at Kakiwong all who could be spared had to walk.

Mac and Arthur had little idea of what the actual physical conditions of the jungle might be like, and many of their notions had, inevitably, been gleaned from films or magazines, or the stories told them by well—intentioned friends delighted to appear omniscient. Arthur’s nursing colleagues had regaled him with many tales of the diseases of the Ibans, and he had acquired a large number of technical books to help him. Now, faced with the possibility that he might, as he imagined, be called upon at any moment to deal with an unknown illness, he insisted on taking all the books with him in his rucksack. Mac, on the other hand, travelled light, but he could not rid himself of the remembrance of a film once seen, The African Queen, in which the hero, working in a tropical river, became covered with leeches. Each time they had to cross water—and this was very frequently—his skin crawled and he wondered how he was going to survive.

Once again Lium, the elderly Iban who had first taken Wilson up to Rumah Gelau, was the guide. Budu lay eight hours away, and each man carried Ills own baggage. It was the custom, and the Ibans admired the ability to carry heavy loads across country: in any case pride would have prevented the young men from showing signs of strain. Lium travelled slowly, recognising that the strangers would need all their strength, but Wilson was anxious to press on and make sure of reaching Budu that night. He had given this as the date Ofl which he would return, and he set great store always on fulfilling any promise. He knew, too, that there would be a reception prepared with food and rice wine, and he did not want to disappoint the people.

In spite of the difficulties and the strenuous demands being made on them, Mac and Arthur were going well. However, at Rumah Bruang, a longhouse of forty families, there came a hold-up. The house had prepared food and rice wine, and it would have been ungrateful and impolite not to stop and eat it. Besides, the people wanted news.

This first actual contact with a longhouse was far from being the romantic meeting that the two young men had foreseen. They were appalled by the darkness and the dirt. Arthur, fastidious in his person, suddenly found to his shock and shame that Ibans were a tactile people, who liked to crowd round an slap a newcomer on the back, and that he shank from their touch. By two in the afternoon they were on the way again. Stopping had not made the walking easier, and muscles which had begun to stiffen protested at being made to work once more. The path grew steadily worse, the packs heavier. Near Nanga Budu, at the confluence of the Krian and Budu rivers, they met bad news in the shape of a messenger. Birai, the lad left at Budu as the teacher, had just lost his wife, and he wanted Wilson to come to his long- house and pay his last respects to her.

Wilson was devastated by this news, and without thought of Mac and Arthur he agreed to go. Birai’s longhouse lay two hours out of their way. Lium knew a short cut, which took them, as short cuts are apt to do, over extremely difficult and precipitous ground. Even in the jungle shade the midday heat struck paraly— singly. Arthur’s shoes had been reduced to ribbons, and the precious medical books felt like millstones on his back. Mac, himself barely able to keep going, took turns in carrying them. Ahead Wilson forged on, seemingly tireless.

At five o’clock they reached Birai’s house, and Wilson paid his last respects to Birai’s wife. He recognised now that he should have taken more thought for the young men, and suggested that they stay the night in the house and come on to Budu next day. Torn between the two unthinkable alternatives of a night alone in the murmuring darkness of a Iban longhouse with a funeral in full swing or several hours’ more walking, they chose the latter. They were persuaded to allow Lium to take turns in carry— mg the heaviest haversack, and Arthur threw away the flapping shreds of the cheap shoes he had bought in the bazaar, to stumble toward in stockinged feet.

Lium was anxious to reach shelter before nightfall, but when darkness came they were still an hour from the nearest longhouse itself another hour from Budu. They got to Rumah Desai without an ounce of strength to spare. Wilson left them there. He had promised to be in Budu that day, and the promise was to be reemed. Travelling alone with every step bringing him nearer home, his tiredness dropped from him. At one minute to midht he climbed the ladder up to the verandah of Rumah Gelau looked across in the moonlight to the Centre of the Budu Development Scheme, while his friends crowded round him and tiwce bowls of rice wine were pressed into his hands. He was back. He had done what he said he would do and returned, on time, with help. Anything now was possible. There was immense exhilaration in the longhouse at Rumah Gelau that night, and no sleep for anyone.

Next morning, at Rumah Desai, Arthur and Mac woke from their profound slumbers none the worse. After all, they were young and alive and being treated with great kindness by the people they had come to help. Arthur, bathing his ruined feet in the river, shouted to Mac to throw him a pair of sandals from his pack. Mac did so, and one of the sandals fell in the river, to be swept away by the current. It was goodbye to Arthur’s only other pair of shoes (he had meant to buy more, and there had never been the time), and with them went his last backward look. Whatever happened now he was here for good. Some of the boys whom they were later to teach guided them on the last stage of the journey, and they walked into Budu in the middle of the morning to a heroes’ welcome. The people had turned out to greet them, and as they crossed the river to the neat jungle clearing with its clean white—washed buildings, cut grass and smiling, friendly children, they thought it was the nearest thing to heaven that they had ever seen.

On the third day after their arrival the canoes came up—river with the stores and equipment that Wilson had brought back with him, and Arthur and Mac became absorbed in unpacking, sorting and listing. Arthur set up his first primitive dispensary, and was at once plunged into the realities of treatment and prevention of disease in the jungle. Mac showed his immediate usefulness by repairing two outboard engines, but his particular job was to prepare the first Budu co-operative shop and supervise its opening

—which was scheduled for a fortnight ahead! Once decisions had been reached and plans made, Wilson disliked wasting time. However, on this occasion there was another reason for the pressure to have the shop open and running by the beginning of May. The Governor, Sir Anthony Abel, had promised to give the Budu Development Scheme an official blessing, and he was due to redeem it on May. In so far as 0sible, everything must be operational by then. One of the things which Wilson had done when he was on leave was to make contact with the Managing Director—later to become the Chairman—of Scottish General Products in Glasgow, the export department of the Scottish Co-operative Society. Even at this very early stage of Budu development it seemed to Wilson that it might become essential to establish an outside source of supply for the shop which would ensure a measure of independence, and enable Budu to break the power of the Chinese, who held the monopoly in up—river trade. This was the rationale for the connection, but shipping difficulties, length of time on the high seas and the actual value of the goods ordered never really justified the theory of alternative supply. Wilson, however, needed to have direct lines of communication open to Scotland which could not be threatened by actions taken locally. In effect the connection with Scottish General Products, if not major to the development of the co—operative shops, was a long, close and often entertaining one; in the very first consignment of goods to be delivered up the Krian river Wilson had ordered a full china dinner—service as well as tumblers and cocktail and sherry glasses, so that the Governor could be entertained in style!

The dinner—service did not arrive until some weeks later, having gone up the wrong river, but the Governor did. He came by water, having the same high priority as canoe—loads of supplies, and like them he got stranded by low water and had to spend an unexpected night in a school which was being rebuilt at Nanga Budu. He waded across the river at Budu with his trouser legs rolled up and a smile on his face, and his presence there gave immense delight to everyone gathered to meet him. For the Ibans it was visible recognition of their efforts for progress—not only by the government but also by the Queen; for John Wilson it was open acknowledgement of a powerful ally; for Arthur and Mac it was a sign that their confidence had not been misplaced, that this was ajob worth doing; for the schoolboys it was a chance for fun and festivity.

The Governor ate off battered tin plates—and never noticed them. Wilson was an excellent host, and he possessed the valuable quality of being able to switch his mind completely away from the day’s problems when he was entertaining. Sir Anthony gazed in astonishment at the displays of Iban and Scottish dancing which the pupils put on for hit a while he drank Cinzano out of a metal mug. (John Wilson’s alternative to too—potent rice wine was an attempt to counter by a milder European variant the prevalent tendency to excessive drunkenness.)

So, in the chirruping darkness, with the electric light switched on to honour the occasion, graceful honey-coloured boys hookhed in the wild shouts of the eightsome tee’ or flowed meltingly through the slow steps of an Iban dance while the wrinkled faces of the old men looked on proudly over their Cinzanos and the young, fresh, entranced faces of Arthur and Mac gazed and gazed. It seemed to the Governor that, though much of it might strike him as curious, none of it appeared to be strange to the peopie themselves.

It was now, once the Governor had teturned to civilisation and the excitement over his visit had died down, that Wilson’s constant preoccupation with thinking forward during his year alone began to bear fruit. Two very important concepts had emerged. The first was the absolute importance of inter—dependency in all aspects of development. Now that there were three senior members of staff, each with a specific area of operations—John Wilson education, Tom McBride trading, Arthur Thwaites medical—it would have been easy fot each one of them to have become conscious of the priority of his own department and less interested in an overall community development plan. As it was, Wilson made it plain from the beginning that every man was to some extent a generalist, and his specialist aspect must be slotted into the major plan in such a way that it contributed to the whole. Thus the school was at the hub and the shop and dispensary operated at weekends, when the school was not affected. Just as Wilson helped in both, while accepting the jurisdiction of whichever member of his staff happened to be in charge, so Arthur and Mac taught in the school under his authority.

The second vital principle was that of intensive training for the Iban lads. In the days when Wilson was alone this had been the only way to work; now it was an integral part of the whole development plan. As the boys rose up the school they or their place naturally, as a part of their training and parallel 1th their academic learning, as apprentices in the dispensary and the shop, in routine administration, in teaching the juniors, in agricultural extension, and so on. This not only ensured that their education was on the broadest possible basis, but retained and strengthened the all—important links with their home community. It also actcd as a valuable selection technique, enabling Wilson to judge a lad against a wide background of work and to form a shrewd assessment of his aptitude and abilities.

Along with this aspect of the job went a particular emphasis on the approach of the staff to their work. The priority must be on teaching, on meticulous training of the young Ibans for future responsibility. So, although the temptation might be to get on with things themselves—and of course there was much of the work which could not be handed over—Arthur and Mac, from the moment they arrived at Budu, were constantly being reminded by Wilson that their first job was to impart knowlodge, to anticipate the time when they would no longer be needed. Even in those very early days he was talking in terms of an investment in people, and warning the two young men against setting too much store by outward success, which would necessarily deteriorate after they left.

This was a side of his philosophy which the authorities in Kuching never saw, for when there he was always fighting ruthlessly for the betterment of Budu in terms of money, goods and freedom to operate. Many myths were in the making about John Wilson of Budu, considerably helped by his brief, apocalyptic appearances in Kuching and the flamboyance of some of his gestures—such as the recruitment of Arthur  Thwaites and Tom McBride. These images did nothing to help relationships with the Community Development Committee or with government departments. Thus Wilson became a ruthless, misogynist, uncooperative, atheist Scot (and that word too could be used pejoratively) who might even be exploiting the Ibans for his own ends: while from Wilson’s standpoint government departments were by definition rigid, ponderous, bureaucratic and out to thwart him. But in a curious way the Budu Development Scheme may actually have benefited from the atmosphere of embattled isolation that prevailed. Like all crisis situations with enemies, real or imaginary, without, it resulted in a close—knit conflict  and generated a powerful spirit of creative self—help.

Perhaps the section of government which was most at odds with developments at Budu was the Co—operative Department. From the beginning there were difficulties. Immediately on arrival ‘Tom McBride was given full authority to organise the first Budu co—operative shop. He had worked madly—helping, between periods spent teaching, to finish the buildings and terrace and plant the surrounding hills—so as to present an appearance of operational trading for the Governor’s visit. Nevertheless, it was June before the shop was properly organised for business. This in itself was remarkable. Mac had never run a co—operative, and knew little about the day—to—day details; his shareholders were illiterate and totally ignorant of the economics of money except in a most primitive way; all the goods had to be brought ttp—river by canoe, a journey that might take two or even three days; a system of accounting had to be devised that would ensure knowing at the year’s end how much each member had bought; a group of senior pupils had to be selected as trainees and given some rudimentary idea of how a co—operative worked; prices had to be fixed and times of opening arranged. It was hardly surprising that he chose the simplest possible ways of working, and in particular reduced paper work to the unavoidable minimum. Accounts must be kept—and in this, fortunately, he was well versed—but the forms which the Department of Cooperatives required to be filled in went by the board. I’he 400 members each had a ten—dollar share. The share numbers were allocated at Budu, and were arranged in blocks which related to specific longhouses. It was enough that the names of the numbers were known to everybody; and, in a society accustomed to relying on memory rather than written lists, this was not dificult. If and when there was time, the filling in of forms could comae later.

Mac’s priority lay with the goods. There was little use registering some hundreds of new co_operators if the shop held nothing for them to buy, so he began by concentrating on the setting up of a supply chain. This was not a simple affair. Saratok which would be the main source of goods, lay far enough to make visits there a complicated business. Money for payment, or alternative arrangements, had to be considered, as had the possibility of antagonism among the Chinese traders. Then the goods had to be transported up the changeable, treacherous, often very dangerous river. Sudden floods could bring the water level to about forty feet above normal, and then the rapids became sinister, roaring cataracts. In the early days scarcely a week went by without a canoe sinking, with consequent damage to goods, or even their loss.

From the beginning the idea of communal wealth was of great importance. The object of the co—operative society was not to enrich individuals, but to improve the economic life of the area, and above all to give the Progress Society the financial backing which would make it possible for the members to take whatever independent steps they wished for the betterment of the

Inuility. It was recognised that the most important of these steps would be setting up a pool of local people able to run the various aspects of the Scheme. For this, training would be necessary and might have to be paid for by the community itself. Even if he had had more confidence in the government’s willingness to accept every recommendation put forward by the Progress Society for financial assistance, Wilson would still have felt it imperative that the Budu people should not rely on government money, but should recognise that they must themselves be prepared to pay the price for any improvement they wanted. So a 4 per cent levy on all the shop turnover was payable to the Progress Society as shop rent, and of this 2 per cent was put aside as a training fund.

This idea of communal wealth was not typical of the Ibans. On the contrary, each longhouse family was traditionally independent, and competition was more normal than cooperation. There must have been absolute confidence in the honesty and judgcment of the three Britons to enable such a gigantic change in the normal “economic” thinking of the local people to take place so quickly and with such comparative ease.

There may have been few snags in gaining acceptance for the idea, but in the actual practice there were a good many more. For Tom McBride the strains were enormous, and they were not made easier by acrimonious relations with the official Cooperative Department. At the beginning the Department’s attitude was ambivalent. The setting up of a co—operative society of such strength in a completely new area was naturally an attractive proposition. They agreed to send up staff to organise the registration and set the young society on its feet. Inevitably, when the department officials who did eventually arrive saw the pragmatic, and to their eyes chaotic, way in which the society was being organised, they strongly disapproved. Mac, overwhelmed, exhausted, but with a workable scheme beginning to emerge under his direction, was totally unprepared to accept that it was necessary to spend laborious hours filling in forms which nobody could understand. So, for years to come, the pattern was set of tensions and friction between the department and the Budu Co-operative Stores Society—a state of affairs which was not improved by the fact that so many of Mac’s and Wilson’s early decisions proved to have been correct.

Meanwhile Arthur Thwaites was having his difficulties too. Faced with the reality of Iban existence with its poor standard of living and its many hazards to life and health, he had to make adjustments to his ways of thinking. All his preconceived ideas about nursing procedures had been swept away, and he was left defenceless, armed only with his own knowledge (of which he had grave inward doubts) and a rock—like determination to succced. He also had John Wilson’s complete support, for Wilson possessed in a high degree one very valuable quality of leadership. Having chosen and accepted his colleagues, he was prepared genuinely to delegate responsibility to them: but, true to his concept of a participating community in which everybody played a part in every aspect, he put his experience and knowledge, as an auxiliary helper, at Arthur’s disposal, as he had at Mac’s. And this experience was vital in that certain patterns had already emerged. Of those, the most important was the limitation on medical services to midday, weekends and Friday afternoons. This meant that there was no interference with schooling, in which Arthur was expected to play a part, and it also enabled the schoolboys to work as trainees in the dispensary and shop. It was convenient, too, in that canoes bringing patients for medical aid could at the same time take back goods from the shop.

There were large areas of difference between Wilson and Arthur at the beginning of their partnership, and Arthur soon showed himself to be as stubborn as Wilson when the occasion demanded it. That the harmony of their work together was never seriously threatened was due in large measure to their complete dedication to the cause of the Ibans. If Arthur could show that his way of working was the best for the Ibans, then Wilson would accept it, and vice versa.

The other factor which contributed powerfully to a steadily developing relationship of respect and loyalty and affection among the three men was simply the pressure of the work. From the beginning they lived separately, each in his own small house. In the middle of the day they fed together with the school on cold rice, with any extra garnishing of meat or vegetable that might be available. In the evening they met, when possible, in the house of one of them for a simple meal of fried egg and beans, taking it in ,turn to cook. There was a certain formality in their attitudes: the two young men, though later they called him—as the Ibans did —Tuan Tuai, the big lord, never used Wilson’s Christian name: he was always Mr Wilson. The cooking formula, too, was adhered to, though Arthur was a bad cook, and there were many times when the other two would gladly have absolved him from the duty. But for most of the time they were busy, frantically, absorbedly busy, each with their own special cares but all dependent on the others for help, and all working for a common object. There was no time for homesickness, boredom or quarrels.

Arthur started to design and build, with the help of his trainees, the kind of dispensary that he felt was necessary. This consisted of an inner sanctum with high walls, windows and a door that closed, all reached by a narrow passage which ensured that the milling throng outside reached Arthur, ensconced inside, one at a time. He felt strongly about privacy and professional confidence, two things about which the Ibans knew nothing at all. Naturally, being interested in the ills of their neighbours, they climbed on the forms put outside for them to wait on and looked over the walls to see what was going on. Extremely angry with the violation of principles which he held dear, Arthur added another plank to the top of his dispensary walls—and several more degrees to the already stifling temperature inside. Sweating with the heat and the effort to achieve some sort of understanding with his patients, he was distracted by the knowledge that the man before him was addressing every word about his illness to a point high up above his head. He knew what was there, but tried not to look. At last in exasperation he would shout in his still primitive Iban at the row of eyes which appeared to be lining the top of the dispensary wall.

When he began to recognise—as, being a young man of sensitivity, he quickly did—that the whole Iban view of illness was radically different from his own, the dispensary design was rapidly altered. Now it. had half—walls, or even no walls at all, and the patients, unhampered by privacy, could recount their symptoms to their friends and neighbours. This was how they consulted with the Manang, whose concern, like their own, was not with any bodily manifestation, but with the struggle with the spirits who controlled their life and health. Their interest related to dreams and omens rather than precise areas of pain, and these spiritual phenomena were of importance to the whole community. So while the patient recited the history of his illness the audience, breathless, would follow with exclamations of astonishment and interpretation.

The difficulties of getting precise clinical information were formidable. Arthur had to rely at first mainly on his own skill and his eyes and ears. But from the start, because this was the direction Wilson had already taken, he was able to accept the validity of the Manangs’ treatment, and did not feel that this was a rival practice which must be crushed. He had observed for himself that, even under ideal conditions in Western medicine, different patients reacted in dissimilar ways to the same drugs. There was an unpredictable factor which lay in the realm of the spirit.

So the relationship with the Manangs remained undisturbed by the advent of a trained male nurse. Asthur treated the Manangs rather as he might have treated a specialist in Edinburgh or Warrington. If he had deployed all his skill and the patient still seemed to be resisting cure, then he sent him to the Manang to complete the process by dealing with the evil spirits. In return the Manangs treated Arthur as their consultant in time of trouble. He might receive a child patient who had already had the spirit catsout by chanting and other rituals, but who was still seriously ill. Then, perhaps diagnosing pneumonia, Arthur would treat the small boy with penicillin and sulpha drugs, and the resultant cure would be a partnership matter and satisfactory to all concerned.

Arthur found himself faced at Budu with a wide variety of physical ailments. Malaria, tuberculosis and yaws were all widespread. There were epidemics of ‘flu, pneumonia, chicken pox, measles and diphtheria which took their toll among the ill— protected Ibans, wise knew nothing of hygiene or quarantine. Worm—infestations and stomach troubles, conjunctivitis, cobra bites which could often prove fatal—he never knew what might face him across the dispensary threshold. Then there were the accidents, which often required the utmost skill and courage if a limb was to be saved—and he knew now what total disaster a disablement could be for human beings whose daily life required unremitting effort. Often a man would be carried in by his family or friends with hideeses slashes caused by a jungle knife which had slipped when cutting undergrowth, or crushed by a falling tree, or mauled in a quarrel which had blown up over a cock-fight. Sometimes a Iban would walk in himself, having travelled for hours with an injury which should by rights have rendered him immobile. One a father brought his son to the Centre with two fractured femurs, and then stood outside the school until lessons were over for the day before he told Arthur about the boy.

It was perhaps inevitable that the first big difference of opinion between Arthur and Wilson should be on the matter of “universal” medicine, for this was a point where two philosophical concepts came into conflict. Fresh from the halcyon early years of Britain’s National Health Service, Arthur felt that it was the right of every man to hay medical attention, and this went particularly for the poor, the rersiote and the underprivileged. But to Wilson it was becoming increasingly plain that, if the Budu Scheme was to build adequately on its initial success, then it must be selective and restricted. In other words, only those who gave in could take out. Undoubtedly, iii the context in which he was working, this was a correct analysis: every improvement that the community gained must be tile result of work and effort—and therefore inalienably their oem. With a minute trained personnel and an enormous potential consumer element, the development scheme could only work if it was self-service, and each expansion had to be able to generate its own creative energy. If everyone who wished could call upon the services of the Budu Scheme and its staff, then very quickly the trickle of their efforts would be overwhelmed and disappear without trace into the ever—encroaching jungle.

So the Budu Development Scheme became exclusive, to the extent that no longhousc which rejected active membership— buying shares in the shop, giving free working days, and so on— could make a claim on the benefits, and this was a principle which aroused angry cries in defence of the poor outcasts from far-away administrators in Kuching. Arthur, also in opposition for a professional ideal, was prepared all the same to consider Wilson’s arguments. This was not sufficient for Wilson, who insisted, as always, that the decision should rest with the people. So the Progress Society met, to discuss whether the treatment of the sick should be universal or exclusive. Being men of ordinary human weakness they decided to keep out all non-members, but nevertheless persisted in bringing their own relatives for medical attention whether they were members or not! Eventually a compromise was arrived at, based on Wilson’s original first aid programme, whereby payment, in the form of a certain amount of rice, must be made for those who were not automatically entitled to treatment. It was not wholly satisfactory, and the collecting and enforcing of the payment was an additional chore in an already overburdened life, but it went some way towards solving the dilemma.

When it came to preventive medicine, however, there was fresh difficulty. The Medical Department launched an anti-yaws campaign, and a government team came up to the Budu area to inject the populace. Arthur was sick when they arrived, and so medical matters were in the hands of Wilson and the young Iban trainees. At this point the question of the right to exclusive treatment on the part of Scheme members raised its head again. Wilson let his strong emotional feeling for “his” people overrule common sense, and insisted that only Scheme members Were entitled to the anti—yaws injections. In this lie was, ofless certain. Life was already hard and busy, and their plans for tile future probably did not conceive of very radical change ill the way of life of tile middle-aged and elderly. Had literacy been the primary aim of adult classes, it is likely that they would have been a failure.

But Wilson had never thought of literacy as an end in itself. His main intention was to instigate a uniform rate of progress throughout the whole community, so that no one section of it should become isolated through too much or too little knowledge, and so tear the social fabric apart. The curriculum for adults included simple science and mechanics, hygiene and health, history and geography, agriculture, cooking and sewing child care, civics and general knowledge, and, as tools for all this new experience, reading, writing and arithmetic. It was a formidable programme.

Every longhouse now associated with the Scheme was asked to send two representatives, one man and one woman, in the thirty to forty age—group to the Centre for tell days in the month over a period of a year. In this way each longhouse would have a tiny spearhead of literate adults, as well as a growing number of educated children, who would, at worst, keep the house informed of tile changes that were taking place, at best become activators passing on what they themselves had learnt. In fact this method was later found to be too slow and cumbersome and was altered to intensive overall coverage, but in 1954 forty_five adults were accepted and enrolled for the first adult school, twelve women and thirty—three

Though most of those first months were taken up with work of a kind which two of them at least had never before even imagined—continuous exhausting, demanding_the three men were happy. They were alive, physically, ntallyand5ptuy and each was supported by the bond of companionship which strengthened hourly between himself and the others. Although there were times when it seemed that progress was infmitesimal, when the gap between aspiration and achievement appeared so enormous that their only recourse was to fill it by anger or despair, yet always in tile background was the knowledge that solid links were being forged with the Iban community. Moreover, though life might be hard it was never dull. The Iban boys were beginning to take on personalities, to become known and loved: Jawie and Luke, intelligent, brave, responsible, leaders in the school; Rabing and Chundie, the one small and full of humour, the other gentle and quiet, showing an aptitude for the work of the dispensary; Liman, strong and reliable, ready to support Mac when there was difficult work to be done; Bilun the footballer, and many others. Mac, having discovered that a high regard for grammar was merely a hindrance when learning a language that had very little, was making rapid progress in Iban, and the English now heard frequently about the Centre grounds from the mouths of brown, dark-eyed boys had a strong Scottish accent. Arthur had forgotten his initial anguish at the loss of his only pair of shoes, and walked for many hours between long- houses—as did the others—in bare feet.

Crises were part of the normal round. Cobras were feared and were the cause of many deaths. When one was sighted the cry went up “ular”, and everyone within earshot grabbed a stick and came running. This could be a disastrous method of dealing with the snake which then, encircled, turned on the nearest person and struck. If he were sure of hand and eye the victim survived; if not, he died.

One morning a lad came in to see Wilson in his office and spied a cobra coiled up on the shelf behind the Turn Tuai. With a cry of “ular!” the boy rushed out of the door, rousing the whole compound, who poured out of the other buildings armed to the teeth. In seconds the office was surrounded by frenzied, screaming Ibans, while inside Wilson and an awakened cobra sat breathlessly still. Beside Wilson’s hand lay a duku, a hunting knife, but as things were he knew very well that there was no way of reaching the snake before it reached him.

Alerted by the noise, Mac arrived and Wilson, talking in quiet, level tones, instructed him to clear the front of the office and gather the crowd behind it. In this way he hoped that the noise might frighten the snake and drive it to seek escape out of the door. Meanwhile he himself sat perfectly still. Exactly as he had hoped the cobra, alarmed by the din coming through the wall behind it, began to slide off the shelf towards the open door, ignoring the man in its way. As it passed him Wilson picked up the duku, and with one devastating swipe severed its head. To the legena which were already current about him in the longhouses this incident added yet another ofa man of subtle calculation and infinite coolness.

A few weeks later Wilson was having a late bath in the river by the light of a small paraffin lamp. Its beam shone on the water, leaving him in darkness. He stripped, and was just about to plunge in when he saw a kengkang mau, a large yellow—green snake, coming towards him at great speed. Utterly demoralised, forgetting that it was the strong light which was the attraction, he clambered up the bank and made for the buildings, yelling, absolutely unconscious that he was stark naked. Gone was the reputation for coolness in the face of this particular danger. The Tuan Tuai was as susceptible to the terrors of the jungle as any other man.

The river was a source of danger as well as being the lifeline. Its unpredictable nature made it difficult to guard against all the hazards; only skill, knowledge and confidence in one’s fellow man could mitigate them. The Ibans had early warned John Wilson of the height of the floods which could rush down suddenly from the interior, but so imprecise, to his way of thinking, had been their calculations that he was sure they were grossly exaggerating the possibilities of havoc. So, accepting his own more rational estimates, the pigsties were built twenty feet above river level. To double this, as the Ibans seemed to indicate would be safer, would have added immensely to the cost in concrete for drains—concrete every ounce of which came laboriously and expensively up-river.

But the Ibans were right, as they usually were in matters pertaining to the nature of their country, and at least once a year the waters would crash down, carrying everything with them to a height of forty or fifty feet above their normal level. Then, day or night, the pigs were always the first concern. They must be let loose immediately before they drowned in a watery, barbed—wire grave. Freed, they made at once for the high ground, where they wrought havoc among the vegetable gardens and occasionally attacked an interfering human being. Once a huge Berkshire boar rescues. if an engine left Budu in good condition it returned that way, and there was no help until it did. The trainees, aware that a stand had been taken which the staff would not go back on, responded. They knew that Wilson would not have hesitated to send back to his longhouse any youngster who wantonly disregarded a rule of this kind. When it came to discipline the three Britons spoke with one voice, and they kept their own rules as well as expecting others to do so. Gradually the percentage of canoes lost was reduced, and the standard of engine care rose until it became exceptional for a boat not to return from an expedition down—river safely and with all its loads.

The shop had been running for some months when Mac took the next logical step and established a system of buying local produce, mainly rubber. Because it seemed the most sensible way to proceed, the buying did not take place through a separate cooperative, as the Department would have liked, but through the already existing society which ran the shop.

A meeting of the Progress Society was held, and the matter was discussed. It was agreed that members who brought in rubber for sale should receive a small first payment when the produce was handed over, and a second final payment, based on the market price received, when the rubber was actually sold. There was an element of chance here, as the market price could not be determined beforehand, but by working in this way the amount of capital available for buying could be extended much further. There were no dissentient voices.

It was further agreed that, to save transport costs, the rubber would be stockpiled at Engkilihi, the point furthest down-river at the edge of the Budu territory, until there were ioo piculs—the equivalent of approximately i pounds.

One day five large canoes were loaded with the collected hundred piculs. Only the most experienced trainee drivers were used Mac led the procession with Chuk as his driver, and Wilson rought up the rear in case of accidents or delays to any of th craft. It was the first major trading venture of the Budu Coperative Society, and much depended on it. If this endeavour was success and all the local produce could be marketed directly through the co—operative, then the whole financial basis of the society would be greatly extended and the Progress Committee, which remained in control of all activities, would have its power considerably strengthened.

When Saratok came into view the little procession took up an arrow formation, Chisk’s canoe leading, with Tom McBride golden—haired in the prow. It was a beautiful calm evening, the river placid as though its waters never held any thought of menace. Great cumulus clouds, tinged with a rosy pink, billowed up softly behind the palm trees. With a roar like a flight of planes the canoes rounded the bend, every engine full out, every man on board alert and splendid. They converged with a gesture of pride maybe tinged with defiance—on Saratok. The crowds rushed to the banks of the river to see the sight. Men and women thronged the landing stage, small boys screamed with the excitement of it all. Flushed with pride, tile little flotilla swept in to land.

For Wilson, for whom Saratok had been the scene of several humiliations, it was a deliberate flaunting of success. He intended to show Saratok, and particularly authority in Saratok, that Budu was not something to be written off with scorn and criticism, that the Ibans were capable of community organisation. Like many successes based on a desire to score, it very nearly had disastrous results.

The evening started well, however. Tile rubber was unloaded. They all washed and swam in tile river. A chicken was killed and roasted and Mac and Wilson indulged in the delicious luxury of iced beer. Even tile District Officer’s barbed comments about shopkeepers could not damp their spirits. They were immensely pleased and proud of their Iban young men.

The blow fell when the trainees went off round the bazaar to ascertain the market price of rubber. Information on the radio before the fleet left Engkilili had given it at 70 cents per kati, or one and a third pounds, and on this they had based all their calculations. Now tile trainees came hurrying back, their faces wiped clean of exultation, to say that tile price had fallen 20 cents since the day before and all they were now being offered was 50 cents per kati—a total loss, if they had to sell at this price, of about 2,000 dollars. Unable to believe the news, Mac and Wilson went off themselves to question the traders. The boys’ information was confirmed. The splendid exhibition had redounded with a vengeance”, And what would now happen if they had to return to Budu, all their fine plans in shreds, and make a second payment to all those who had entrusted them with the sale of their produce which was, less, not more, than the first?

As always, they held a meeting to discuss the vital next step. Some of the Ibans, unaccustomed to withstanding the bargaining power of the Chinese traders and concerned to get some money anyway, wanted to sell whatever the price. Wilson and Mac refused to contemplate this course of action, and others of the young men upheld them. This was the test. If they accepted the traders’ price and gave in, then the whole future was in jeopardy. Capitulate this time, and it would be impossible to stand out next time. The argument wavered back and forward, but eventually a decision was reached in which all concurred. At that price no sale.

It was dark and the tide was turning. They were all exhausted, not only by an arduous day’s work, but by the emotion and pride of arrival which had so quickly turned sour. Nevertheless, they decided to reload the boats immediately and return the rubber to the store at Engkilili. With anger their energy returned. It would be dangerous loading in the dark with only flickering lamps to help, and to journey up-river at night with heavily laden canoes held many hazards: the loss of a boat could not be discounted, and injury or death for a trainee. But Wilson’s blazing determination drove him on, and each man followed him inspired by his conviction.

When they began to load the crowds gathered again. It was unprecedented to see canoes take on their baggage with intent to leave Saratok in the middle of the night. The news ran round the town, and the traders, too, came down to see what was happening. The Budu Ibans and the two Britons spoke only to one another, ignoring the questions and comments of the hundreds of curious spectators who thronged round them.

When the boats were packed they climbed on board and left, as they had arrived, in formation. In the early hours of theThc second payment was made, the loans were returned, bills were paid and the shop became solvent again. Budu had gained a reputation which, when trading was gradually rsumed at Saratok, assured them of respect and bargaining powe?The Progress Society had met a major crisis and survived it.

And so the less dramatic affairs of Budu went on. ne Sunday, at dawn, Arthur was lying in bed planning the work1he would do on a new vegetable garden. He was looking forward to a peaceful day in which to recover from the pressures and efforts of the previous week. But Sundays were no more inviolate than any other day, and before he had even got out of bed the call came to visit an old man in a longhouse two and a half hours away who had “had a bad dream, been made ill by a spirit and become half an animal”. Helped only by this not very precise medical description, Arthur arrived at the longhouse to find that the man had had a stroke, and that the treatment was simple and routine. That was from the point of view of the Western trained nurse. There were, however, other factors. The room was full of people, all beseeching the patient, who had lost his speech, to tell them what was wrong with him. The more he grunted the louder they shouted—being no different from any other peoples in imagining that if a man cannot show you he has understood it must be because he is deaf.

There was no oxygen at all in the room, and the noise of the gongs being beaten just behind the patient’s head to summon the spirits was terrible. The man lay on the floor, desperate and miserable in the centre of all the clamour, while his friends, having tied a thong round his shoulder, were flailing his paralysed arm in an attempt to drive out the devil. It had taken the messenger at least two hours to reach Budu and Arthur rather more to return, so all this frantic activity had been going on for the better part of five hours.

Arthur knew the Manang, and immediately held a professional discussion with him. It was good to summon the gods by noise, but better if this took place on the ruai, the long communal verandah, rather than in the patient’s ear. The Manang agreed. He too had need of a second opinion, for his treatment had not been bearing results, and he led the band out of the room, taking most of the spectators with them.

Then it was possible to open the windows, to lay out the patient more comfortably, to explain to his near relations that his speech would return, but until it did they must converse with him by signs and nods. Arthur examined him physically and gave instructions about feeding, toiletting, changing his position from time to time, all of which were listened to and accepted. Leaving some phenobarbitonc tablets and hoping for the best, he went back to Budu.

Four weeks later the patient himself arrived outside the dispensary at Budu, on foot and recovered. How did he feel? Much better, but the illness had been severe. He had wandered away into a very fine country and was enjoying his visit until he had met his brother. But his brother was dead—so he must be in the land of the clcad. His brother had jumped on his back and prevented him from returning to the land of the living. He struggled, but he could not dislodge his burden. Fortunately his wife and his friends kept calling to him, and he had been able to throw the brother off and was now nearly well again.

It was a revelation to Arthur not only of the resilience of the human frame, but of the tremendous gulf that existed between East and Wst in the matter of medicine. But it strengthenedalso his understanding of the place of the Manangs, and he did not repudiate the name by which he was now beginning to be called himself, not Tuan or Mr Thwaites but Manang.

The end of the year was celebrated with a hari besai, a big day. It was the first time that Budu had put on a festival of its own, though they were common in longhouses on a greater or smaller scale to celebrate a wide variety of different events.

As always, Wilson was ambitious. This was to be the most splendid day that could be imagined, a cross between a Iban celebration and a Highland gathering; something to which everyone would come from miles around, and which would carry the name of Budu back across the jungle to the remotest places. The proceedings were to last three days, and it was hoped that two or three thousand Ibans would come. There were difficult problems of feeding for such a number. A funfair was visualiscd, and Mac and Arthur created miracles of do—it—yourselfery on the shooting gallery, tile coconut shies, the wooden horse racing. Competitions were set up: raffles with white piglets, sewing machines and engines as prizes; football contests, dancing exhibitions, even an open—air cinema—a totally unknown attraction. The school would have its sports and there ould be cock- fighting, without which ban fair would be complete.

When the day actually arrived the oniy thing/that was not in doubt was the weather. The spectators poured in, and the neat Centre grounds were black with astonished, bewildered, excited, joyful humanity as the gorgeous Scottish-Iban affair got underway. The sports went like clockwork, and Wilson drove home to the older Ibans who were watching the visual lessons of discipline. Fighting broke out, as always, at the cock-fighting: every decision the football referees made was questioned and games ended in a mêlée of boxing and wrestling—to the enjoyment of the spectators and the despair of the Centre staff—until Mac decided to referee all games himself. The knock-out pillow-fight on a greasy bar over tile river proved a roaring success, but Arthur, Chundie and Rabing, tied to the dispensary day and night to deal with the results of battles, stomach aches and strangers taking tile opportunity to have tIleir ailments treated, saw little of it all. The trainees ran the funfair, sold the raffle tickets, organised the crowds where that was possible, helped with feeding and filled Wilson with immense pride.

In the evenings, when darkness fell, there was electric lighting for a stage on which the dancing exhibitions took place, and for the funfair, which continued unabated. The Information Department had agreed to provide films, a projector and an operator, and it had been decided that to cover the costs of transport o cents would be charged for everybody who wanted to watch the films, except school pupils and children. It was another instance of the gaps that sometimes appeared between Eastern and Western thinking, for no Iban could see why he should pay 50 edIts to see a film which he could see free from the branches of a tree or a nearby hill. So tile cinema played to an empty enclosure, while 2,000 spectators watched enraptured from every available eminence round about!

Mac, anxious to encourage a spirit of giving, sent collecting boxes round among the audience which sat watching the dancingand tile concert—and was surprised and angered when they came back to him full of cigarette ends and wrapping paper, Ibans not having the background to recognise a collecting box for what it was!

But in spite of these setbacks, in spite of the exhaustion, the occasional quarrels, the immense amount of clearing up, the hari besai was a resounding success and started another Budu tradition. It was one more milestone in the creation of a community.

Those were tile halcyon days, though they may not have appeared so at the time. Budu was coming alive: the Scheme was young and growing, every ounce of sweat and effort seemed to bear positive results. The team—the Britons, the schoolboys, the Progress Society—was a comparatively small one and all were drawn together, in some degree, by participation in a pioneer venture. Outside criticism seemed remote and, on the whole, ineffective. Budu had not yet sufficiently made its mark on the Sarawak world to arouse serious jealousy or irritation, or for its ways to be considered a threat to more established procedures. At this point John Wilson and his colleagues still felt that the obvious rightness of their developments would convert all men of sense to their way of thinking, and saw no reason why the Budu pattern should not be widely extended to benefit all the ulu peoples.

2 responses

  1. David Barron | Reply

    In the early 1960s John Wilson arranged for a number of Dyaks to further their education at Nairn Academy, Nairn, Scotland. One of the students was Panggau Kusau, who had attended BTu Lintang Training College, Kuching. I was very friendly with Punggau but lost touch a number of years ago. Can anyone assist me in reestablishing contact with him?

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: