Run­gus to cel­e­brate Ma­ga­hau Fe­si­val

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - FRONT PAGE - By Amy Dan­gin

Sabah will be see­ing the best yet of the Run­gus com­mu­nity, hav­ing re­cently been recog­nised as a full eth­nic­ity, as it also marks the be­gin­ning of an an­nual State-level cel­e­braion, the Ma­ga­hau Fe­si­val.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will be see­ing the best yet of the Run­gus com­mu­nity, hav­ing re­cently been recog­nised as a full eth­nic­ity, as it also marks the be­gin­ning of an an­nual State-level cel­e­bra­tion, the Ma­ga­hau Fes­ti­val.

To be launched on June 13 by Tourism, Cul­ture and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Pan­glima Ma­sidi Man­jun, and close with a big bang on July 27 with the Pa­pak Tavasi Ma­ga­hau, the fes­ti­val in the form of the Ma­ga­hau month, is the brain­child of the Sabah Mo­mo­gun Run­gus As­so­ci­a­tion (SAMORA).

“The Ma­ga­hau Fes­ti­val will be the big­gest cel­e­bra­tion for the Run­gus com­mu­nity in Sabah, fol­low­ing the State gov­ern­ment’s recog­ni­tion of the com­mu­nity as a full eth­nic­ity,” said SAMORA pres­i­dent Dato’ Je­lani Ham­dan at a press con­fer­ence here yes­ter­day.

Ma­ga­hau, said Je­lani, is sim­i­lar to ‘thanks­giv­ing’ or ‘cel­e­bra­tion’ in the Run­gus lan­guage, and is all the Run­gus’ cel­e­bra­tions and fes­ti­vals summed up to­gether.

“It’s the mother of all Run­gus cel­e­bra­tions,” he said.

Af­ter be­ing launched on June 13 at Kam­pung Tim­pan­gol in Matung­gong, Ku­dat, var­i­ous Run­gus ori­ented ac­tiv­i­ties will be held through­out the Ma­ga­hau month, which will then cul­mi­nate with the grand Pa­pak Tavasi Ma­ga­hau, at the Ulu­van Square in Pekan Matung­gong, on July 27.

Among the con­tents of the month-long cel­e­bra­tion is the ‘Gim­puhut’, the Run­gus’ equiv­a­lent of the Kadazan­dusun Mu­rut’s Un­duk Ngadau, but some­thing more, with judg­ing points which will in­clude not only beauty and brain, but also tra­di­tional knowl­edge and skills.

Con­tes­tants of the Gim­puhut com­pe­ti­tion will be re­quired to un­dergo a week train­ing, learn­ing how to weave tra­di­tional Run­gus ta­pes­try, as well as learn the Mon­gondi, af­ter all of which they will be re­quired to per­form as part of the com­pe­ti­tion.

“We want to en­sure that ev­ery con­tent of the pro­gramme will in some way ben­e­fit the Run­gus com­mu­nity and en­hance the knowl­edge and skills of our tra­di­tions among the younger gen­er­a­tion,” said Je­lani.

There will also be a Run­gus singing com­pe­ti­tion which will be di­vided into two cat­e­gories, one en­cour­ag­ing mod­ern mixes in Run­gus lan­guage songs, and the other pro­mot­ing tra­di­tional Run­gus songs, Mon­gondi.

“The first cat­e­gory will re­quire con­tes­tants to com­pose Run­gus lan­guage songs with a touch of con­tem­per­ary ma­te­ri­als. Run­gus songs are barely known so we want to pro­mote them by giv­ing these songs mod­ern touches.

“On the other hand, Mon­gondi is a skill not known to many Run­gus which even the cur­rent Run­gus gen­er­a­tion does not un­der­stand as it uses age-old Run­gus lan­guage which the ‘bobo­lians’ (na­tive high priest­esses) use,” ex­plained Je­lani.

Ma­ga­hau will also see the show­case of Run­gus tra­di­tional cos­tumes through a fash­ion de­sign com­pe­ti­tion which will re­quire con­tes­tants to cre­ate de­signs based on their cre­ativ­ity to in­fuse tra­di­tional Run­gus mo­tives into their de­signs. It will cul­mi­nate with a gala night show­cas­ing the cre­ative de­signs.

Folks will also be able to wit­ness Run­gus tra­di­tional sports as con­tes­tants of the ‘Hon­tira’ com­pe­ti­tion race through ob­sta­cles us­ing tra­di­tional tools, dressed in tra­di­tional Run­gus out­fits.

The Ma­ga­hau Fes­ti­val, said Je­lani, had been ac­knowl­edged by the Min­istry of Tourism, Cul­ture and En­vi­ron­ment to be part of the an­nual Sabah Tourism cal­en­dar of events.

“Ma­ga­hau is nor­mally cel­e­brated by the Run­gus as a thanks­giv­ing, not nec­es­sar­ily on a fixed date or month, like May for ex­am­ple. It is also a ‘pan­tang’ (pro­hib­ited) to have a Ma­ga­hau cel­e­bra­tion in a time where there is a dis­as­ter among the Run­gus.

“Some will ask why not post­pone the event in view of the re­cent na­tional tragedy in Sabah, and I would like to clar­ify that we are not go­ing ahead with the event out of dis­re­spect but it had been planned more than four months ago and we have planned to scale down the open­ing of the event, as well as in­clude a trib­ute to the vic­tims of the earthquake by launch­ing a dis­as­ter fund.”

Run­gus was re­cently one of the four sub-eth­nic groups of the Kadazan­dusun Mu­rut eth­nic group in­clud­ing Tatana, Lun­dayeh, to be recog­nised by the State gov­ern­ment through the Min­istry of Tourism, Cul­ture and En­vi­ron­ment, as a full eth­nic­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to Je­lani, there are cur­rently 150,000 to 200,000 Run­gus in Sabah, 20,000 of them in Kota Kinabalu alone.

Lo­cal Run­gus singers such as Ronn, Rody, Frankie, Lynn, Vince, Lenz, Alex­mon, Rob­bie, Mar, Fer­ady, Donny and many more, will be per­form­ing on the Ma­ga­hau stage, where fa­mous Saba­han na­tional singer, Stacy, will also be per­form­ing a Run­gus song dressed in Run­gus tra­di­tional cos­tume.

“I ad­mit that very lit­tle is known about Run­gus. Now that we have been recog­nised as a full eth­nic­ity, we will step up ef­forts to pro­mote our beloved cul­ture and tra­di­tions,” said Je­lani.

He added that although it will kick off on June 13 to July 27 this year, SAMORA will work on fix­ing the event from July 1 to July 31 in the com­ing years.

“This is be­cause num­ber seven is spe­cial to the Run­gus,” he said.

Je­lani show­ing the Ma­ga­hau Fes­ti­val’s pro­mo­tional poster at the press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day.

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