Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The syllabic alphabet of Rejang : ka ga nga

Once you get Bengkulu, you don’t need to worry about how to communicate with local people. They don’t only primarily speak the national language (Bahasa Indonesia), but also many people here are able to speak English. Most people at the hotel, restaurant, mall or at the government office speak English.  You may also find that some people  here (by some minor ethnic group) speak their own local dialects, including Rejang, Local Malay, Serawai and Lembak). In addition, there is another local dialect which is spoken by a very little number of people, Pekal.
I would like in particular to discuss about Rejang. You may be wondering what is Rejang anyway. The word of Rejang may be referred to an ethnic group live in Bengkulu as well as to the name of language they speak.  I myself speak Rejang very well since both of parents are native to the land of Rejang,  from Lebong exactly. Although I use Rejang dialect regularly in daily basis,  I have to admit that Rejang dialect is no longer my main thinking language.  I proudly found myself very lucky to be one of 300.000 people (this figure is my intuitive guess)  that able speaking this dialect.  It is worth to mention that Rejang language is totally different to the other local dialects, both in vocabularies and its script.
The ethnic of Rejang has their own script, called ka ga nga scripts, a syllabic alphabet.  From what I can see, ka ga nga scripts somehow looks similar  to the script of Batak, an ethnic  group in North Sumatera.  To be honest,  I don’t literate to my own scripts, ka ga nga. But, I do know some of my colleagues in Universitas of Bengkulu ( focus their research on the Rajang’s ethnic, exploring  the uniqueness about this ethnic, including the language, song, poets, etc. As ka ga nga script is not widely used in any form governmental forms and in any cultural events, I would see how ka ga nga will slowly disappeared and forgotten.  It is glad to mention that some schools in the land of Rejang had  introduced  that learning ka ga nga script is a part of its local content of its curricula.  This is an effort to maintain the existence of this ancient’s script. We are not sure yet about the benefits to maintain the knowledge of ka ga nga scrip, but one thing I am sure that this  script could be very useful to reveal many historical perspectives.


  1. Apart belong to ethnic of Rejang, Script of Ka Ga Nga also belong to ethnic of Lampung.

    The Lampung Script (Had Lappung, in Lampung dialect) has similarity in name, form, and order with Rejang's. They also call the alphabet as Ka Ga Nga following the first three letters of the alphabet.

    Other ethnic that has Ka Ga Nga script is Kerinci.

    Ka Ga Nga is also known as Surat Ulu (upstream script).

  2. so, this script belongs to many ethnic groups. They should hand in hand to restore the use of this script to avoid the disappearance of ka ga nga.