PENAMPANG: There is no better way to promote the rich cultural diversity in Sabah than allowing one to experience it themselves.
And with that in mind, Datuk Richard Bainon took up the challenge to redevelop the existing cultural village within the compound of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA), also known as the Hongkod Koisaan (Place of Unity).
With the addition of a suspension bridge, a handicraft centre, a landscape garden with a pond and a fully functional stage as final touches to the area, it is set to be the latest attraction complementing the 11 traditional houses at the cultural village.
Developed at a cost of nearly RM1 million, the place is run by KDCA Cultural Village Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between a private company and the association which aims to turn the Hongkod Koisaan into a one-stop tour attraction to woo guests all year long.
Dubbed the KDCA Cultural Village, Bainon, who is the venture’s chairman, said the area complements Hongkod Koisaan, which is already a magnet for revelers during the final week of the month-long Kaamatan (Harvest) Festival celebration in May.
“But it remains idle the rest of the year except for a few activities. So we thought that since Hongkod Koisaan is already a household name for cultural programmes, why not make full use of the advantage and turn it into a one-stop centre to further promote the rich cultural diversity from Sabah.
“They will stage shows with performances from the various ethnic groups in Sabah by our very own dance team. In fact, we are also encouraging locals from different ethnics and districts to come and stay at their respective ‘houses’ to promote their handicrafts. This interactive exhibition will be done inside the 11 traditional houses,” said Bainon,who is also KDCA deputy president.
At the new cafe, the public will be served with traditional delicacies.
“We want to present our food in such a way that it can be savoured and appreciated by visitors … you are bound to find hinava, bambangan and basung fish on the menu,” he said when hosting a get-together with tour agents and other tourism players recently.
Bainon said that what they were trying to do was to add value to the Hongkod Koisaan and at the same time, provide opportunities to native entrepreneurs as well as introduce what our indigenous communities have to offer in terms of their culture and traditions.
For now, entry is free, but eventually, a minimal fee will be charged.
“We are also thinking of turning the traditional houses into homestays so that the public will have the opportunity to live the locals’ daily life.
“I believe this is just a way of doing our small part in promoting the Sabah culture. We are thankful that for the last couple of months, response has been good,” he said.