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The Hakka Spirit
When the Hakkas first moved south, there were already many other Chinese
who had settled in
before them. As the former were regarded as intruders and resented because
of their regional
and linguistic differences, they took to the more inhospitable regions to
avoid clashes with
the other Han Chinese.
Such adversity required of them courage, ingenuity and physical stamina to
adapt to their new
surroundings or die. They also had to contend with the initially
belligerent native tribes
there, roving bandits and wild animals.
The Hakkas realised it would need sustained group cohesion and teamwork to
beat the odds in the
battle for survival. They, therefore, opted for communal living, sharing
whatever meagre produce
the hostile land would yield.
They built fortress like circular-shaped dwellings of mud and sandstone
that could accomodate
dozens of families and serve as protection from their enemies. Many of
"round buildings", as they are called, can be found in Fujian and Guangdong
have withstood periodic earthquakes unscathed and are considered one of the
wonders of China.
The Hakkas' instincts for survival and ability to overcome extreme
privations, coupled with
their industry and thrift, enabled them to turn adversity into advantage,
carving out their
place as an integral part of their new homelands.
These traditional values have become symbols of the people and are commonly
referred to by
others as the Hakka Spirit.
- written by Lam Pin Foo, a Hakka lawyer