As the title says, who in the world is Sandokan? I know Sandakan the city/town but Sandokan? It seems that he is a famous pirate known as the “Tiger of Malaysia”. Excerpt from Wikipedia says “Sandokan is a fictional pirate of the late 19th century, who first appeared in publication in 1883, created by Italian author Emilio Salgari. He is the protagonist of eleven adventure novels and is known throughout the South China Sea as “The Tiger of Malaysia“.
What is interesting is that this author has never stepped foot in Malaysia nor ventured further than the Adriatic sea! Yet he managed to make Malaysia popular way back in the early 20th century. How cool is that?! Click on his name to know about him.
My point is, whenever someone asks me where I am from and I reply Malaysia, the immediate and standard response is “Sandokan! You know Sandokan? The Tiger of Malaysia?”. Always. Without fail.
The blank and puzzled look I gave them said it all. I didn’t know who he was when I first came here. If you check out the Wikipedia pages, you will notice that the TV series and films were made in the 60s! Wayyyyy…before my time. And the series was remade in the 90s and broadcasted in Europe. I don’t think they showed it in Malaysia. I could be wrong here, but I don’t remember watching ANY cartoons on Sandokan. Did you?
I have yet to read any of Salgari’s works on Sandokan or watch any of the series or films or even the cartoons. So I can’t really tell you much about this man but this much I can say. This fictional character is so popular, it does an even better job than our Malaysian government in introducing and promoting Malaysia to the world. Nothing jumps to mind of any Italian when you say Malaysia more than Sandokan. And all this is thanks to an Italian who has never stepped foot in Malaysia, who wrote about a country he has never seen in an era that Malaysia has yet to exist.
I shall leave you with a tribute to Sandokan which M stumbled upon. To all Malaysians, something to ponder on?