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Common Origins

2020-06-04
Many Chinese people were drawn to Hong Kong to make a living after it was established as a free port in the 19th century. They formed societies according to their respective ancestral homes to look out for each other, keep one another informed, and even assist in transporting the cremated remains of the deceased for burial in their hometowns. These societies gradually developed into clansmen’s associations. As such, some of the clansmen’s associations in Hong Kong have more than a century of history.

Sam Shui Natives Association was also established under this historical context. As early as the ninth year of the Guangxu period, the remains of Chinese people of Sanshui descent who passed away in Southeast Asia were transported home via Hong Kong. However, the ashes of some could not be taken back for burial because their addresses were unknown. Consequently, a group of Sanshuinese living in Hong Kong applied to the government for a plot of land to turn it into a burial ground for the unclaimed dead. This society later evolved to become Sam Shui Natives Association, and paying respects to these lone souls has been its tradition for more than a century.

The organisation plays an active role in sustaining the relationships between fellow hometowners. After the Handover, many mainlanders immigrated to Hong Kong. They have become the association’s new blood. Chan Chun-kit, who moved to Hong Kong from Sanshui in 1990, actively participates in its activities because he believes that the other members grew up in a similar background to his, making it easier for him to be on the same page and to speak freely. Despite having lived in Hong Kong for 29 years, Chan Chun-kit still has strong ties to his hometown. He has not only helped his village compile its first genealogy book, but also takes Hong Kong families to their hometowns to assist them in reconnecting with their ancestry.

Hong Kong Stories - My Hometown (English Version)

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People from Guangdong can have dozens of different places of origin, resulting in the existence of clansmen associations of all sizes in Hong Kong. Titled “My Hometown”, this season of “Hong Kong Stories” consists of ten episodes that aim to showcase the stories of Hong Kongers searching for their places of origin. We will visit various clansmen associations and interview those who share the same root. As the saying “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” goes, different places of origin naturally have different customs, diets and traditions. Our camera will bring our viewers to their originating hometowns that they may have never set foot on. “My Hometown” is not merely a record of Hong Kong culture, but also an endeavour to find disappearing traditions.
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