Saturday, July 16, 2016
Kampung Tempe: Voices from a Malay Village
The book that Dr Yahaya and I had been working on since 2014 will be launched five days before my birthday! This is Dr Yahaya's contribution to his kampong and Singapore, as well as my contribution to Singapore Malay history and the publishing world. Thanks to the A-team who worked tireless on the book (yes, we had even worked until 5am)!
About the Book
In early 1905, a group of Javanese led by Alias bin Ali, started a settlement on a hillside in Singapore, not far from the present Sixth Avenue, off Bukit Timah Road. The swampy land then was infested with mosquitoes and quite uninhabitable. Despite the challenging circumstances, the Javanese settlers, most of whom were farmers and gardeners, successfully cultivated vegetables such as tapioca, chilli, and even tobacco.
A hundred years later, the village disappeared. The only visual testament to the prior existence of the village – sited on one of the most expensive residential areas in Singapore – is a small mosque named Masjid Al-Huda, located along Jalan Haji Alias.
This book conveys fragments of the village’s history and retells stories from the bygone days of the early settlement, such as the villagers’ fear of living in bunkers during the war, and their struggle sourcing for food that led them to produce tempe or fermented soya bean cakes, for which the village later came to be known.
ps. To a certain someone who bragged about her book being THE definitive book about Malay ethnic food (no, she is not the wonderful food consultant Aziza Ali, it is someone else whom Daria had ranted before): "Ooi, stop your irritating, delusional self-grandeur! We've published five books since you got the book grant in late 2013, and your book is still not out yet!"