The ancestors of the Kadazan people had been described as being pagans. Among those who did so were the British people who were officials of the North Borneo Chartered Company. How many among the many races of long ago are not pagan? The Kadazan people did believe in a supreme spiritual being although they also believed in the existence of other spirits.
Pagan or not, no one has the right to look down on the Kadazans. No matter how many people want to deny it, there will always be Kadazan on this earth. Unless they are subjected to some form of genocide.
In the mean time, let us look at the name "Kadazan" since you may ask, "Where did the name 'Kadazan' come from?"
Some people ~ we do not know their actual intention ~ put forward the illogical idea that the name "Kadazan" comes from the word 'kedai' which is the Malay word for shop. How can a people whose ancestors had lived in a land from time immemorial suddenly want to call themselves after a shop. Shops ~ 'kadai' in Kadazan ~ are of recent origin.
In fact, the name "Kadazan" was already in use long before the British came. That is, long before "kedai" existed or came to the knowledge of the Kadazan people.
One Owen Rutter wrote in 1929 that the native people living in Papar called themselves "Kadazan". The other natives living in the western coastal areas in the north of Borneo Island ~ which the British called North Borneo ~ adopted the name "Kadazan". For example, in Penampang the name "Kadazan" supplanted the name "Tangaá". However, Tangaa animistic rituals were practised alongside the "Kadazan" rituals for a while until both became more and more insignificant with the onset of new belief systems.
Some had also put forward the argument that the Kadazan forebears came to this land about two millenia ago. Does this take away their right of being the first group of people whose ancestors made this place their homeland?
The two millenia may be a wild guess since it has been stated that migrations from mainland Asia came about before the onset of the Second Ice Age. The period between that time and now is too long so much so that legends abound as to what happened in between. The human mind is an idea-manufacturing machine. Who can refute the suggestion that someone or some people had such creative imagination making up the stories that are now left with us?
Who in their right mind would believe that a dragon could live at the top of Nabahu (Mount Kinabalu) made up of bare rocks? Who in their right of mind could suddenly believe that this dragon was guarding a pearl of great price? After all, dragons form a major part of Chinese folklore and legend. Could it be that the story was created by the then Chinese government as a design to stake a claim on this part of the world?
It is easy to create stories and if no one present an alternative view that could be just as plausible the former could become accepted as the "truth".
This leads us to conclude that these stories remain stories that entertain. These remain legend that may be repeated to amuse little boys and girls. But not thinking adults! (1)
Scientifically speaking, the Kadazan ancestors were among the many southward-bound human migrations before the Second Ice Age. The tribal people in Taiwan who are said to resemble the Kadazan of North Borneo, now Sabah, could well be from Borneo. This is a possibility with the new theory which is the "Out of South Easy Asia" theory which proposes that the migrations originated from South East Asia.
Let us allow the experts to unearth the truth. In time, we may come to know the actual truth about all these things. Meanwhile, let no one allow a word to escape his or her mouth that the Kadazan people do not belong to this place. They are very much part of Borneo. They are very much part of Sabah. They are people of the land.
(1) Unfortunately, the argument that the name "Kadazan" came from the word "kedai" which was coined by Donald Stephens (Later Tun Fuad Stephens) persists. Just yesterday (February 4, 2014), a Kadazan aged more than eighty years old, believed in this argument.