Death of ‘Pantun Iban’ activist great loss for Sarawak’s arts

SIBU, Jan 8 — Renowned “Pantun Iban” poetess Nyong Aji passed away in Kapit on January 5.

She was 64.

In a Facebook post uploaded by Nyong’s eldest daughter Sim Ah Hua, the funeral wake would be held at the family house at Sungai Pelajau in Bukit Goram.

When contacted, Sim said she could only confirm the cause of her mother’s death after the issuance of the death certificate.

Nyong, who hailed from Teluk Buing in Kapit, had produced several “Pantun Iban” albums, all well-accepted by the Dayak community, throughout a career that spanned more than 30 years.

In an interview with The Borneo Post in 2015, she said she learned the “pantun” (traditional poem) skills solely from observation and practice.

“When I was younger, I would study the elders performing the ‘pantun’ during special ceremonies at the longhouse.

“Little by little, I managed to grasp the essence of the art.

“There’s no formal lesson involved,” she said then.

In 2001, Nyong was invited to present “pantun Iban” for then-Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah when His Majesty visited Sibu.

She performed twice for former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, one of which was during a Gawai Dayak “Ngiling Tikai” event at Rumah Bengau in Nanga Sut on June 15, 2015.

The renowned poetess had also staged performances for the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and former chief minister, the late Pehin Sri Datuk Patinggi Adenan Satem.

Nyong’s talent in the “Pantun Iban” was so widely known that she was featured in many national-level events, including by-invitation-only tours in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru. — Borneo Post



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