Keep sape tradition alive

Dennis (back row, ninth left) and the Sape Heritage trainees in Long San, Ulu Baram.

KUCHING: The unique Sape melody known only among the Orang Ulu must be preserved at all costs, said Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau.

He said, the skills could be taught to Orang Ulu youths to prevent the culture from extinction while at the same time generate income for the Sape players.

“We hope to have more in the likes of renowned Kenyah-born Sape Master Matthew Ngau. To a true Orang Ulu of Kayan and Kenyah origin, the unique Sape melody can only be played by their own people.

“While we welcome others – even foreigners to learn and play Sape music, there is a distinctive difference in the melody when played by a skilful Orang Ulu player compared to others who just learned to play the Sape instrument,” he said.

He said this when officiating at a Sape Heritage training programme in Long San, Ulu Baram recently. A total of 13 trainees were selected to undergo Sape training for the second batch of the programme supported by Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB).

Dennis thanked SEB for its support towards the programme as it affords the opportunity for Kayan and Kenyah youths to learn to play Sape and keep their tradition alive.

“Without the effort of SEB, the Long San village committee and supported by the two schools here, it will be very difficult to have this training session,” he said.

He also asked the state’s power provider to look at training more youths in playing Kayan and Kenyah traditional music instruments like Tung, Satung, Keledi and others.

“I also urge all the 13 new trainees to take the lesson seriously and we hope to see you at your graduation day and hope we can see you play our beloved Sape all over the country and even the around the world,” he said.

He added, getting together to learn playing Sape would also ensure that the youths were not too engrossed in modern gadgets.

“It is really sad to see very few among the modern youths who can perform their traditional dance,” he said.