Watch Video of Martin and Osa Johnson’s 1935-36 Adventure in North Borneo Here!

Martin and Osa Johnson’s North Borneo adventure in 1935-36 is now available to be watched on YouTube!


Martin Elmer Johnson and his wife Osa Helen Johnson were American adventurers and documentary filmmakers who have travelled across the world in the early 1900’s. One of their destinations was Sandakan and the floodplains of Kinabatangan in Sabah, North Borneo which they described as “the most beautiful scenery they have ever beheld.”

Back in September 2012, the SUARA Community Filmmaking, in partnership with the Sabah Museum and the Sabah Society, premiered the couple’s last adventure in North Borneo during the Borneo Eco Film Festival.

If you missed that chance, you can now watch their adventure at the comfort of your own home or office.

I don’t wish to spoil anything but in the video you’ll see how beautiful and untouched North Borneo was. It was like the Garden of Eden, a piece of heaven on earth where humans and wild animals lived harmoniously side-by-side.

Remember the photo below which was posted on our Facebook page not too long ago? You can see these people in the video.


What’s amazing is one of the natives named ‘Logan’, spoke very good English, well, that’s because he said that he used to live and work in Sandakan which was once the capital of British North Borneo. Logan is standing next to Martin in the photo below.


It was also interesting to know that the way people spoke Malay back then hasn’t changed so much compared to now. Some of the scenes were very comical and you can’t help but laugh!

The video was uploaded by Travel Film Archive which collects travelogues and educational and industrial films that show the world the way it was between 1900 and 1970. They explicitly mentioned in their YouTube page that:

“Please keep in mind that the narration for some of these films was written over 75 years ago and reflects the colonial attitudes of the time, some of which may seem offensive today.”

True. There was actually one scene that you may find offensive.

Last but not least, it was indeed a wonderfully made documentary of their adventure, and it made me even more proud of my own homeland – the beautiful Sabah in North Borneo.

This is the first of two parts of the video. Go ahead and hit that play button…

… and enjoy the show. Let’s hope the second part of the video will be available soon.

Photos courtesy of kshs

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Richard Ker

I love the history of North Borneo (Sabah) and strive to digitally archive any related information on this website. I'm also the author of LifeinMy.com and CyberjayaCity.com. Follow me on Twitter @richardker.

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