S’wakian sape songstress to represent M’sian indigenous artists at Expo 2020 Dubai


KUCHING, Nov 16: Sarawak’s very own Alena Murang will grace ‘Te Aratini: Festival of Indigenous and Tribal People’ which takes place on November 17-19 in conjunction with Tolerance and Inclusivity Week at the Expo 2020 Dubai.

Alena who is known as the State’s first professional female sape musician and artiste will be performing pieces from her album ‘Sky Songs’, as well as Kelabit and Kenyah folksongs to a live and virtual audience.

Alena will also be one of the panellists discussing the topic ‘The potency of our arts, film, and music in maintaining community cohesion’ alongside Canadian indigenous artist Raven Kanaktata and Tupe Solomon Tanoa’i who is the 2020 NZ Woman of Influence winner.


As a Dayak Kelabit herself, Alena said: “It’s an honour to be the ambassador of my tribe and of other Malaysian indigenous groups to amplify our voices and aspirations, as well as to forge links with indigenous people from other countries at this year’s expo.

“I look forward to sharing our stories and also learning from their experiences, especially in the arts and media industries.”

Alena, who currently champions the cause of reviving endangered languages in Malaysia, has produced songs in the Kelabit and Kenyah languages which are also on the brink of extinction.

Having garnered several awards and accolades, Alena is set to share her ways in reinvigorating her heritage with a contemporary touch through music, film, and fashion.

In addition, the narrations of Malaysian indigenous groups will be further highlighted with a talk on knowledge transmission through traditional art forms by Dora Jok, the Sarawak Museum curator. The National Department for Culture and Arts Dance Group is also scheduled to perform at the opening ceremony.

Te Aratini is the World Expo’s first indigenous festival organised in partnership with Iwi Chairs Forum, NZ Maori Tourism, and the New Zealand government.

It aims to showcase the untapped potential that indigenous and tribal people can offer to solving global issues.

The three-day event will gather ministers, tribe leaders, activists, advocates, and artists from New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Sweden, Canada, Paraguay, Panama, United Arab Emirates, Japan, United States of America, and United Nations (UN). — DayakDaily