With easy access to modern technology, television, video and console games that keep children glued to a screen, the younger generation will prefer it than having to go outside and get some dirt in their nails.
However, there have been efforts to preserve and introduce kite-flying to the youth as seen through festivals or tournaments held in the country, showcasing the art of flying a kite.
Sutera recently caught up with Haji Maidin bin Haji Ahmad, President of Brunei Darussalam Kite Association (PEKIKIK), a kite enthusiast with 20 years of experience under his belt, joining competitions in the region such as the Borneo International Kite Festival and the World Kite Festival. Haji Maidin is also the chairman of the first Brunei Darussalam International Kite Festival.
“Kite-flying is a traditional game in Brunei that had been around for decades, but is seen as old-fashioned when compared to the modern games that are available now,” said Haji Maidin.
The first International Kite Festival in Brunei is part of a circuit tour that started from Satun, Thailand to Pasir Gudang in Johor Bahru, and then proceeded towards Kabong, a small district in Sarawak before arriving here. Held from 13th to 19th March 2019 at Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas, the festival saw 34 different countries in participation, from Japan to United Kingdom.
Last weekend, the capital’s skies were enlivened by the visuals of unique kites that came in various shapes, colours and sizes.
According to Haji Maidin, some of the kites in the air are called ‘rokkaku kites’ and can be up to 7-feet, and mostly made with eye-catching shapes. Popular characters like Spongebob Squarepants, Superman and Transformer’s Bumblebee made an appearance during the kite festival, not only that traditional Malay shapes were seen, such as panah-panah and wau bulan.
Other than that, the kites in recent time are much stronger than it used to be in the past. “The kites made nowadays are not like what we had back in the day. Since then, people have been able to transform and modernise the kites by using lighter materials such as plastic and carbon fiber rather than paper and bamboo. This will hopefully show the youth that the kites are not as fragile as it was and can last for many years to come,” added Haji Maidin.
We also managed to interview one of the participants, Bob Cruicshank from the Republic of Ireland, who had been flying and creating kites as a hobby for 30 years. He envisioned that we can further popularise kite-flying by creating more similar festivals in the country.
“When we have a festival, it is nice for young people to come and try to fly the kite in hope that they might sparked the interest of the youth to dive into flying a kite as a hobby,” said Bob.
He further added that the emergence of the extreme sports involving kites, such as stunt kites and kite surfing will make flying a kite more modern and appealing to the youngsters around the world.
“There will always be kite flyers as there are always innovation in kites – there is a traditional way of making kites and there is someone who thinks outside the box and creates a totally new design that can fly, so people would take some of the ideas and create new ones – this means that there will be someone who flies kites in the future,” Bob added.
It seems that even with the festival being over, the skies in the capital are still lined with kites that are being sold by vendors at Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas. Hopefully, the trend of kite-flying catches on to the youth and it can be preserved as one of Brunei’s traditional games.