THOUGH MALAYSIA IS an incredibly diverse country, the RWMF made it even more so — at least in this corner of Sarawak where there were performers from all over the world. This 14th year of the festival ran July 8-10 and featured daytime workshops and night time concerts all in the Sarawak Cultural Village in the rainforest — the grounds reflecting the architectural heritage of the area with traditional structures from Borneo.
The variety of cultural traditions I saw at RWMF electrified me. I was on a natural high as the crowds ebbed and flowed between the two stages. To see Warsaw Village Band, Agung Beat (of Malaysia), and Kamafei (of Salento, Italy) update traditional sounds with modern influences got me excited. But there was plenty for die-hard traditionalists to enjoy and even a full-on stage show with numerous dance numbers by Kenge Kenge Orutu Soundsystem (of Kenya).
Overall, I was overwhelmed by so much great music within the course of just a few days. My eyes have been opened to a new way of experiencing the world. I guess that’s kind of the point: music is a common language, something we can all share, even if some things are lost in translation. The sharing of knowledge and mutual respect I saw among the performers gives me hope, and I can’t help but feel that the crowd picked up on it, too.
So without further ado, here is one photo from each group that performed over the course of the three day festival in chronological order and a little information about the bands.
All photos © Kate Sedgwick unless otherwise noted.
*Kate’s trip to Sarawak and RWMF was sponsored by the Sarawak Tourism Board, but her impressions and opinions are her own.