From Bali to the Congo – truly international flavours at RWMF 2015
By Patricia Hului
Photos by Chimon Upon
Seven groups of performers from different countries had everyone dancing all night long to their respective rhythms for their final night of Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) 18th edition.
Ndima from Congo Brazzaville, started their set by warming up the crowd with their intricate polyphonic singing.
Then they danced to the sounds of traditional instruments such as drums made up from hollowed-out tree trunks and mouth bows.
Made up of members of the Aka Pygmies tribe, Ndima’s dances involved body-bending and footwork, allowing the audience to join in.
The crowd went wild when the Mah Meri, Orang Asli from Carey Island joined Ndima on stage.
The two groups’ performance were called ‘Sound of the Forests’ in which they played their instruments and dances together.
Another crowd favourite was a group of 16 young men called Harubee performing Boduberu music, a musical style which evolved from the 11th century, brought in by the sailors traveling from different parts of Africa.
Originally from the Maldives, the group’s drumming was frenetic and accompanied by more frenzied dancing as they moved around the stage.
Harubee certainly knew how to please the audience as the artists distributed free T-shirts and the Maldivian national flags as they danced.
The final night of RWMF 2015 had a more international crowd but Agus Barandiaran leader of Korrontzi (Basque Country) put an effort to interact with their attendees in Malay.
He made a simple introduction of the group in Malay and finished each of their songs with “Terima kasih.”
In return, he also taught the crowd a couple of Basque phrases.
Barandiaran led the group with trikitixa, a diatonic accordion which was once banned by the Catholic Church who called it the ‘wind of hell’.
Other traditional Basque instruments Korrontzi played were alboka (a single-reed woodwind piece) and mandolin. The group also had a pair of dancers gliding to the beats.
All of their songs were dance-able and infectious leading the festival-goers to dance right along with them.
RWMF saved the best for last with the most popular Maloya band named Lindigo from Reunion Islands.
Maloya was once the secret music of sugar plantation slaves of La Reunion. In 2009, Maloya was listed on the UNESCO’s Representative Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Maloya music delivered by Lindigo was funky and upbeat lined with Afrobeat and samba. The French-speaking group managed to teach the audience how to dance like them with simple instructions.
Lindigo had the audience moving up and down in rhythmic motion, a movement certainly not for those with arthritis.
Other performers were Sarawak own Sayu Ateng playing ethnic contemporary songs, Sarawak Cultural Village in-house artists and Kobagi Kecak from Bali, Indonesia.
Kobagi Kecak led a handful of RWMF musicians and revellers in a Kecak Rite, a trance ritual involving hand movements and chanting.
The night ended with the musicians of this year’s RWMF making their final musical bow.
This annual event is supported by the Ministry of Tourism Sarawak and Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia and endorsed by Tourism Malaysia.
The 19th edition of RWMF will be held on July 22 to 24, 2016.