Sabah festival doesn’t disappoint

KOTA KINABALU: Some delays and minor technical hindrances, but otherwise the Sabah Fest 2011 musical theatre, staged at a leading hotel here over the weekend, was a resounding success.

It drew about 1,000 people, approximately half of them being tourists, both foreign and domestic.

Sam, who was in a group of travel agents from Australia and was visiting Sabah for the first time, was impressed by the musical, titled “Papakang - The Odyssey of Seven Brothers.”

“Very colourful, very beautiful!” he exclaimed.

Asked whether there was anything in the show that the group might not be happy about, Sam replied, “The delays, and we didn’t understand what the actors were saying.”

He said that the audience was aware that the delays were not the organiser’s fault.

But he thought, apart from the narrator, there should be a translation projected onto the screens set up on the stage. This would allow foreigners to understand the dialogue between actors, which were spoken in local dialects.

Entrepreneur Hashim Ahmad and his wife, both from the peninsula, were also awed by the dance performances which nailed home the fact that “there are so many tribes in Sabah.”

While this was only his second visit and his wife’s first to Sabah, he said they were not totally ignorant about the people of the Malaysian Borneo state.

“Over there we tend to identify Malaysians as Malay, Chinese and Indian. Only when you are in Sabah, and I suppose Sarawak, too, that you begin to realise how narrow your perception of being Malaysian is.

“People from the peninsula should come to the Sabah and Sarawak and experience being ‘Truly Malaysian’, and Sabah Fest is a wonderful eye-opener too,” he said.

The Sabah Tourism Board (STB) has been organising Sabah Fest, this being the 23rd year, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd, which began the festival in 1988.

The event is held annually to coincide with the state Pesta Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) celebrated by the Kadazandusun and Murut communities in May as thanksgiving for a bountiful yield after the paddy harvesting season.

This year’s Sabah Fest highlighted dances and rituals from eight districts Ranau, Pitas, Kudat, Kota Belud, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Keningau and Penampang. Each dance presentation was unique, yet similar, as is the ethnic diversity of the Sabah people, which comprises more than 32 groups that speak about 80 languages and dialects.

According to a spokesperson of STB, the event involved more than 500 participants, including musicians and dancers, which began on April 30 with an exhibition of local handicrafts, traditional cuisine and Sabah products.

The show was also graced by Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin and his wife, Toh Puan Norlidah RM Jasni. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman was also present at the event. - Bernama

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