Celebrating Serani

I once asked a relative how did we – the Serani or Eurasians to some – arrive in Malaysia?

The reply was: “During the time of the British, they needed labourers, so they brought in the Indians to do the work.

“They also brought in the Chinese to help with the labour and to start commerce.”

So what about the Serani?

“Ah,” he replied. “They brought us in to teach everyone how to party!”

That’s obviously a fictionalised account, although we Serani do have a reputation of being good entertainers.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, the ‘blame’ lies with Vernon Adrian Emuang, who informed me that today is the 234th anniversary of the first ‘Serani’ landing in Penang.

So what is a Serani?

“Serani is a mixed-race community of the descendants of Europeans from as far back as when the Portuguese arrived in Southeast Asia in the late 1400s,” said Emuang, a cultural activist and founder of Serani Sembang.

“This includes other European ancestries, but is now as vernacularised as any of the Asian communities.”

Emuang said many are confused about Eurasians and Serani and mistake the latter as the Malay version of Eurasian.

“The term Serani to describe a community existed for over 500 years, long before ‘Eurasian’ was coined by the British,” said Emuang.

“Some say ‘Serani’ is derived from ‘Nazarani’ (the Arab word for Christian). It was used for the Christian sailors who came to Melaka.

“When they had children with the local women, these mixed-race communities grew, explaining why there are many Kampung Serani all over the country.

“The easiest way to explain is that all Serani are Eurasian but not all Eurasians are Serani. Like Hakka is to Chinese,” said Emuang, who hosts a live webcast on Saturdays.

The former TV presenter and actor started Serani Sembang nearly 20 years ago so Eurasians or Serani of all surnames can become familiar with the incredible Eurasian diaspora.

Here’s an interesting tidbit. Captain Francis Light, credited as the ‘founder’ of Penang, had a Serani wife – Martina Rozells.

They were together for 22 years and used to write love letters to each other in Jawi!

How Malayan/Malaysian can you be?

Anyway, today is the 151st day of MCO and this is the ninth weekly edition of The MCO Diaries.

FIVE MONTHS IS TOO SHORT

So the person allegedly responsible for the ‘Sivagangga cluster’, was fined RM12,000 and jailed five months for violating home quarantine orders.

Nezar Mohamed Sabur Batcha, 57, who owns Nasi Kandar Salleh, is an Indian national with permanent resident status in Malaysia.

He has been linked to the cluster which spread in three states – Kedah, Perlis and Penang. I feel five months is too short a punishment. Nezar is one of the reasons why the number of cases in Malaysia has reached 9,149, up 86 from a week ago.

The good news is for the second week running, there are no new fatalities so that remains at 125.

Worldwide, the number of cases has surpassed 21 million, with close to 800,000 deaths.

A PLACE FOR DOG LOVERS

A friend sent me this.

ANOTHER AWARD FOR REDS

Two weeks after Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was named League Managers Association manager of the year, the Reds have another reason to celebrate as defender Trent Alexander-Arnold was named Premier League Young Player of the Season.

Alexander-Arnold, the only nominee also on the Player of the Year shortlist, was instrumental in Liverpool’s title-winning season and recorded 13 assists – second only to Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne – as well as 14 clean sheets and four goals.

Klopp is also in the running to be named EPL Manager of the Season while Alexander-Arnold joins Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson in the shortlist for Player of the Season.

PICTURES SHOULDN’T LIE

The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry issued this warning on its Instagram page yesterday.

FOR PEANUT BUTTER LOVERS

Here’s a ‘healthy’ five-ingredient chocolate peanut buttercup recipe to try. Who doesn’t love peanut butter?

FANCY AN AIRPORT STAYCATION?

If you miss going to airports, why not take up this deal by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad.

GOODBYE, TRINI LOPEZ

Mexican-American singer and actor Trini Lopez died on Wednesday, aged 83, after contracting Covid-19.

Rest in peace, and may you get a bigger hammer in heaven.


Main image from Serani Sembang.