27 schoolchildren star in night of Melanau music & dance
Participants of DiGi's Amazing Malaysians project in Mukah perform for Deputy Minister
Mukah, February 18, 2006 - Twenty-seven primary and secondary school children from five schools in Tellian, Mukah, took to the stage tonight to show off Melanau dance and music skills they have picked up over the last three months. At the same time, the craft produced by six young "master-weavers-in-the-making" were displayed for visitors to see.
The children were all participants of DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd's corporate social responsibility project, The Knowledge Keeper of Sarawak.
The project, launched on September 24, 2005, was led by DiGi's Amazing Malaysian Diana Rose, who gave up an illustrious career as a journalist with The Star to return to her hometown of Kampung Tellian, the cradle of Melanau civilisation in Sarawak. Worried that the culture and traditions of the seafaring Melanaus, who settled on the coast of Sarawak more than 1,000 years ago, was disappearing, Diana has spent the last four years actively reviving her people's rich heritage.
For Diana, nothing is more important to a sense of identity than to know one's roots. "No matter where you are, no matter what you do, if you know your roots, you will always feel at home," she said.
Mentri Muda for Human Resources & Training, and for Agriculture in the Chief Minister's Office Datin Hajah Fatimah Abdullah, who was guest of honour at the Showcase (or official closing ceremony) of the project, said: "It's wonderful to see the children of Tellian embrace the culture of the Melanaus with so much enthusiasm. All round the world, youth are being so influenced by pop culture that they forget their own traditions. Many forget they are blessed with a rich heritage of music and dance that boasts a rhythm which relates specifically to their unique life stories and history."
As a former student of SMK Three Rivers, one of the participating schools, she added: "I'm so happy to know my former school was involved in this project. I just wish there had been something like this when I was a young girl"
The other participating schools were: SK Tellian, SK Datuk Awang Udin, SMK Mukah and SMK Dato' Patinggi Haji Gapor.
DiGi's Chief Financial Officer Johan Dennelind was equally effusive in his praise for the children. "In any project, you can put in all the ingredients necessary for success. But, at the end of the day, success is the result of the energy put in by the participants. This is precisely what has happened here. The children have been coming to Lamin Dana every day to practice, and it shows. Of course, their motivation has been fuelled to a large extent by Diana, who has a larger-than-life personality and passion for what she does."
Dennelind's Finance team adopted this particular DiGi's Amazing Malaysians project. DiGi runs five such projects a year, and each is adopted by a different division in the company.
Lamin Dana is the traditional tall house that Diana built in 1998 as a centre of Melanau culture. It is here that she has nurtured Melanau dancers and musicians and formed a cultural troupe, called the Badan Budaya Melanau Mukah. In an annexe, she has also set up a workshop for traditional weavers to make mats, lampshades, screens, baskets and other items using sago fronds. In addition to being a culture and craft centre, Lamin Dana is also a homestay for visitors who want to experience authentic Melanau lifestyle.
DiGi recognised the role Diana is playing in restoring Melanau culture and named her The Knowledge Keeper of Sarawak in September last year, making her the first woman Amazing Malaysian. With DiGi's support, Diana has been able to upgrade Lamin Dana, making it more comfortable for visitors and practising artistes (such as the dancers, musicians and weavers). The project has also helped attract a young group of people into the cultural activities that Diana runs, and has made culture a more integral part of everyday life.
"When I sounded the idea of Lamin Dana, many people told me I was mad. But I persevered and I've made it happen," she said. "It's not been easy. There have been many obstacles, some of which I've managed to overcome on my own, and some of which friends and family have helped me overcome. DiGi's project has also been a huge bonus. I'm grateful to DiGi for their support."
About DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd
DiGi is a leading mobile communications company providing a comprehensive range of affordable, convenient and easy-to-use wireless services to simplify and enrich the lives of its customers. The company creates value by selecting the most appropriate cutting-edge technology so that customers benefit from products and services that give them choice, convenience and control.
About DiGi's Amazing Malaysians
DiGi's Amazing Malaysians is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme which identifies passionate individuals who, quietly but with dedication, work towards preserving Malaysia's natural, social, art, cultural or built heritage. DiGi provides resources for these ordinary people doing extraordinary things to share their knowledge and skills with groups of 50-100 children or youth. Most of the projects are centred in rural locations, and the children involved come from the surrounding areas. This way, DiGi is able both to support commendable heritage work, and to introduce children to the rich tapestry of culture and tradition that makes up Malaysia's unique heritage.
Corporate Communications Department
DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd
Lot 10, Jalan Delima 1/1
Subang Hi-Tech Industrial Park
40000 Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan