August 4, 2021

How can I learn more about the kampung spirit?

By brit

Designers of residential estates often try to foster the kampung (village) spirit of yesteryears through innovative planning of common spaces. 

Some might be familiar with the last surviving rural village at Lorong Buangkok, where time stands still and the brightly-painted wooden houses are juxtaposed against the tall housing blocks and high-rise skyscrapers in the other parts of Singapore. But what exactly is the kampung spirit and what makes it so special? Blast from the Past, a series by the National Archives of Singapore (NAS), answers all your questions about this warm sense of neighbourliness.

Audio interviews, videos and photographs capture nostalgic slices of life in the past, such as communal sources of water supply, Wayang shows (street theatrical performances) and houses with roofs made from palm leaves.

The kampung spirit at work (Oral History Interviews)

Put simply, kampung spirit is the culture of helping one another out in a village. Liak Teng Lit, former chief executive of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, recounts how this sense of community was at work during his tenure at the hospital from Aug 2010 to Mar 2012 through contributions such as donations and volunteer work.

Carefree days of yore (Archive Photographs)

Back in the day, standpipes were not just a communal source of water. They also helped foster the kampung spirit by serving as water playgrounds for children of all races and social hubs for women who gathered regularly to do the family’s laundry. 

For more examples of the kampung spirit, visit the Blast from the Past microsite and you might well be inspired to recreate this sense of camaraderie within your own community!