PART VI – MOVEMENT TO THE REJANG DRAINAGE MIGRATION TO SARIKEI AND JULAU
According to tradition in the Saribas, the first migration of Ibans into the Rejang
drainage (what is today the Third Division of Sarawak) took place before the migrations to
Krian as described n Part IV. The migration to the Rejang took placed at the time of the
arrival of James Brooke in 1839.
Igoh Apai Lamban came from Ulu Layar to the Sarikei River in search of new land. He
had been a leading warrior together with Unal (Bulan) the slayer of the Balau chief named
Ijau (Lang). There was no quarrel in the Layar, which force him to migrate. He wanted to
be a pioneer and to seek new lands.
During the same time, Mujah (Buah Raya) led the first migration into Ulu Julau, a
branch of the Kanowit tributary of the Rejang. Mujah was a brave war leader who had
originally migrated from the Skrang and had lived temporarily in the Upper Penom and
Anyut rivers of Ulu Paku. Since these areas were already well settled, Mujah kept on
looking for new land and thus came to Julau. Upon his arrival, he and his followers fought
against the Rejang’s Tanjongs, Kanawits, Ukits and Lugats in many parts of the Rejang.
Due to his success in driving these aborigines from the lower rivers, Sharif Manshor of
Sarikei gave him the title Panglima.
In later years when the people of Upper Sarikei were at war with the Brooke
Government, Mujah (Buah Raya) helped them. As a result the Government sent
expeditions against him into the Julau in 1856 and 1858. After Mujah had migrated into
the Julau many Ibans from the Lemanak migrated into the Sarikei, Bintangor, Poi and
Ngemah tributaries of the Rejang.
Megong Apai Bansa, Pelima and Saka led these movements. The Lemanaks came by
way of Kelampu and Bunu in the Skrang. From these places, they crossed Bukit Ringka
between the Skrang and Kanowit and reached Penebak in Ulu Layar. But as in the case of
Mujah, they discovered that these lands were already completely occupied and the Layar
Ibans would not accept them.
From Penebak, Pelima went down the Kanowit and finally settled in the Machan River,
a left tributary of the Rejang. Megong Apai Bansa went on from Penebak down the Sarikei
and lived at Pakan. Gradually almost all parts of the lower Sarikei and Bintangor rivers
were populated by the Lemanak Ibans as were the Poi and Ngemah tributaries further
Much later, another quite different group of Lemanaks settled in the Roban, branch of
the Seblak tributary of the Krian. When the second Rajah erected Fort Charles at Kabong
in lower Krian, he engaged these men under their leaders Angki Degom and Ambak to
guard the fort. They served as fort official (known as the Sarawak Rangers after 1862).
After they had retired, they requested and received permission to settle in Roban. Later,
although they had already retired these men died while fighting at Bukit Seligi on one of
the Rajah’s expeditions against the famous Ulu Ai rebel named Ngumbang.
Ibans from Skrang River also migrated to the Rejang tributaries in considerable
numbers during this period. Unfortunately these movements cannot be traced in much
detailed. However, we do know that after the Third Sadok Expedition in 1861, Libau
(Rentap) and those who were still loyal to him moved to the headwaters of the Kanowit,
settling first in the Entabai stream. The pattern was repeated when the Government in
1881 finally defeated another famous Skrang rebel, Kedu (Lang Endang). Kedu also moved
into the Kanowit River area. Throughout the middle years of the nineteenth century, the
headwaters of this stream remained attractive not only to those who wished to live far from the white Rajah’s officers, but also to migrate in search of new lands.