Kampung Tempe: Voices from a Malay Village
Written by Yahaya Sanusi and Hidayah Amin
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.
Woods in the Books recommendation:
An lively historical read filled with lively retellings of the past. A beautifully illustrated cover image makes it a wonderful gift for anyone who might be interested in a history of one of Singapore’s disappeared villages.