Tan Sri Zainal Abidin Bin Ahmad
Born in Kampung Bukit Kerdas, Batu Kikir, Jempol, Negeri Sembilan, Za’ba received his early education at a Malay school in Linggi. He then continued his study at St. Paul’s Institution, Seremban and was the first Malay to take and pass Senior Cambridge test in 1915.
Za’ba started to write seriously during his teaching tenure in Johor Bahru in 1916. His first article “Temasya Mandi Safar di Tanjung Kling” was published twice by the Utusan Melayu paper. Za’ba was able to incorporate various topics such as language, literature, religion, economy, politics and education in his writings. When he was working at the Sultan Idris Teachers College, Tg Malim, he focused his efforts to integrate Arabic and English syntax to Malay Language and used the elements for school text books and general readings. It was during that time Za’ba contributed his writing including translation works for Majalah Guru and Al-Ikhwan till 1931. He then focused on religious writings which was then published into a book titled “Umbi Kemajuan” in 1932.
Za’ba, the Malay lad dedicated himself to the Malay Literature. His famous work “Pelita Bahasa Melayu” became the primary source for those who wish to learn the Malay Language. His next critical success was titled “Ilmu Mengarang Melayu”. Both became the school text books after World War II. Apart from that, Daftar Ejaan Jawi/Rumi was another Za’ba’s important work. He also contributed in Journal of Malayan Branch Royal Asiatic Society (JAMBRAS) to highlight the Language.