Sarawak Energy’s Community Partners Showcase Culture and Craft at RWMF 2018

KUCHING, 1 AUGUST 2018, WEDNESDAY: Sarawak Energy’s partners in cultural heritage, Warisan Sape Telang Usan from Baram and artisans from Murum showcased their music and crafts at the recently concluded Rainforest World Music Festival 2018 for the second year running with the corporation’s sponsorship. 

Talented eight-member troupe Warisan Sape Telang Usan enchanted audiences with sape performances at daily pop up sessions and music workshops with receptive audiences joining them in traditional dances. 

The youngest member of the group, Calvin Ayan Desmond, 14, was delighted at the opportunity to perform in front of an international audience for the second time after his maiden performance at the festival last year.

“I have been looking forward to performing at this big festival again to show what I learned throughout my training. I feel that our performance was well-received by the audience,” said Calvin.

On the crafts side, four artisans from the Penan community of the Murum Resettlement Area displayed their handicraft at the Rainforest World Craft Bazaar, a fringe event held within the festival grounds and were able to sell over 400 pieces of their crafts. Made from natural material like rattan, their baskets called gawung and ajat as well as pakah headgear and ba’sah bangles which were among popular souvenir items purchased by festival goers. 

Also on display were modern craft innovations including contemporary tote bags and men’s briefcases, placemats, platters and mats. The artisans also demonstrated their handicraft skills while picking up new design ideas from other exhibitors.

Artisan Serie Ngau, 21, from Long Malim, Murum said her participation at her first international event was eye-opening, allowing her to see handicrafts and culture from countries she had only seen on television previously.

“It is so interesting and exciting to see the different cultures, faces and music from all over the world,” she said.  

Sarawak Energy’s Executive Vice President for Corporate Services Aisah Eden said as a gold sponsor of the event, the corporation was able to support their partner communities to showcase their culture and heritage at the internationally acclaimed music festival.

“We are committed to working with communities on initiatives that preserve and promote the state’s indigenous cultural heritage. This festival provides an additional platform to showcase the successful results of our joint cultural initiatives,” she said.

As part of the corporation’s commitment to growing sustainable livelihood opportunities for project-affected initiatives, Sarawak Energy works with the Murum Resettlement Area communities, particularly from Penan villages, to develop the marketability of their handicraft.  

“The upskilling for artisans from the Murum area ensures that the products are more sellable to enhance their income opportunities while sape training under the Baram Warisan Sape Telang Usan means that we can contribute towards preserving and promoting this unique Bornean musical heritage in Sarawak,” she elaborated.

“This is the second year running our community partners have participated in this international level festival. We believe that this provides a good opportunity for the artisans to showcase their skills and crafts to tourists from around the globe, to build on their national level exposure from their participation in exhibitions across the country,” added Jiwari Abdullah, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability, whose team was on hand to support their community partners during the festival. 

Serie (left) and Sarawak Energy community relations officer Florida Havit speaking to a tourist at the Murum Penan Handicraft booth

Weavers Bawe Adu, Zaria Ugil and Doris Lot demonstrating their weaving skill at the craft bazaar.

Young sape players who performed throughout the 3-day event.

Local and international participants joined the long dance at the pop up session.

Festival goers learning to do the saga’ dance during the workshop.