KOTA KINABALU: The annual Sabah Fest, a cultural extravaganza, the state’s largest and most colourful cultural event of the year is here again.
It started yesterday with the Cultural Extravaganza while the Premiere Show will be held today at the Magellan Grand Ballroom, Sutera Harbour Resort at 7pm.
The grand launching will be carried out by the Head of State Tun Datuk Seri Panglima Juhar Mahiruddin, who will be accompanied by his consort, Toh Puan Datin Seri Panglima Norlidah Datuk R.M Jasni at the Magellan Grand Ballroom of Sutera Harbour Resort at 8pm.
At a recent press conference, the Minister of Tourism and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun revealed that the 23rd edition of Sabah Fest will bring to the audience the story of ‘Papakang – The Odyssey of Seven Brothers’, a one-hour musical theatre-style production based on a local folklore of the legendary Nunuk Ragang.
Guests can hope to be entertained by a dazzling display of Sabah’s traditional songs and dances, as the legend unfolds.
The story is about the seven sons of the Nunuk Ragang, chief of Kampung Tompios in the district of Ranau, who coveted the mystical Papakang stone.
They looked for it but it was the youngest son, Aki Lintobon, who successfully retrieved it from the bottom of the river.
After he retrieved it however, the brothers squabbled over who would possess the stone.
Seeing this, their father smashed the stone into seven pieces and gave each son a piece, telling them that this would serve as a reminder of their identity as siblings and their origin.
As time passed, food became scarce in that area and famine began to beset the land.
They were more quarrels as they strived to survive.
They fought amongst each other and headhunting became rampant.
The people had no choice but to make an option; migrate and look for better land or risk starvation.
They took the latter and the the six older brothers led their people to different areas.
They began their journey towards other part of the land one day, holding on to the stone their father gave them so that they may identify their people in other parts of the land one day.
The youngest named Aki Lintobon, remained in Tompios and even as he watched his siblings walked away, he vowed to seek and reunite his brothers.
The years went by and one day Aki Lintobon decided that it was time to bring his family back together again and thus began the amazing journey of Aki Lintobon across the land to look for his family and the stone of Papakang.
Guests tonight will see the depiction of this journey through the drama and dance.
To complement the drama, this year’s Sabah Fest will highlight the unique dances and rituals from eight districts, namely Ranau, Pitas, Kudat, Kota Belud, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Keningau and Penampang.
Among the never-seen dances are the Dindang Dusun from Ranau, Sumarikayau from the Orang Sungai in Pitas, Pokudinding from the Dusun Tindal in Kota Belud, Pangalai Dayang from the Suluk in Batu Sapi, Sandakan and Gabiluk from the Dusun Subpan in Lahad Datu.
Sabah Fest 2011’s cultural journey will be complemented by an exhibition, sale and demonstration of handicraft at the Magellan Grand Ballroom foyer of Sutera Harbou from 10am to 10pm on both days.
This handicraft exhibition will include sale of local food and beverage products such as the Tenom coffee, Sabah tea, cocoa products and local delights such as ‘kuih panjaram’ and ‘kuih Cincin’, and also Sabah’s traditional favourite delicacies such as bambangan, tuhau and hinava to name a few; Borneo pearls, Sabah’s batik as well as creative work of local artists and Mayuri House of Art.
In the past few months, the organisers have received numerous requests and complaints from a number of ethnic group leaders in Sabah, on the omission of their respective cultural groups in the grand Sabah Fest.
The organisers wish to clarify that only seven to eight ethnic dances.can be featured each year.
This was due to the constraints in terms of cost, logistics and production capacity.
Moreover, the selection of ethnic groups to perform was based on the theme and story line of the stage performance.
The ethnic groups which have not been represented this year will be considered for future productions.
Sabah Fest 2011 is organised by Sri Pelancongan Sabah the wholly-owned subsidiary company of Sabah Tourism Board.
The event is open to the public with tickets available from Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd at 088-232121 or Sabah Tourism Board at 088-212121.
Meanwhile, the Sabah State Museum cultural village will also be holding cultural events in the respective traditional houses.
According to museum assistant Doutis Goukit, guests who wish to interact with the locals at the heritage village may do so at that time.
The village is a replica of traditional houses in Sabah and should not be missed by visitors as this is where they can see the various types of tribal houses in one location.
Guests will also be able to look at the people’s handicraft and acquire souvenirs at this time.
The Fest is being held from April 30 to May 31.