By Ahmad Kamil Tahir
REMBAU, Dec 31 (Bernama) -- Wan Taufiq Ali Osman is very much a Malay but confesses that he knows nothing about life in a kampung (village).
The 16-year-old was born and bred in London, to Malay parents Wan Ahmad Hulaimi of Terengganu and Zaharah Othman of Kedah, both of whom have been working in the United Kingdom over the last 30 years.
Understanding the eagerness in him to learn more about Malay culture, Wan Taufiq Ali Osman's parents did not hesitate to allow him to participate in the Malay World Youth Exchange Programme in Negeri Sembilan. "I really wanted to taste life in a kampung and look forward to participating in various kampung activities and learn about the life of Malay kampung folks from my foster parents," he told Bernama after the launch of the programme by Negeri Sembilan Youth Council (NSYC) President Khairil Jamal at Dataran Rembau, here.
Clad in Baju Melayu and wearing a songkokb (Malay traditional costume), he said that though there are many Malays in the United Kingdom, there were not many cultural activities except during Hari Raya or weddings. Wan Taufiq Ali Osman said that though they lived far away from their ancestral land, his parents always reminded him of their roots in Malaysia.
The family has visited relatives in Malaysia several times but this is the first time that he has come alone and said that he felt great to be here.
Along with Wan Taufiq Ali Osman are two other Malays, Lazim Yademe, 23, of the Cocos Islands, and Hassan Zainuddin, 22, of Saudi Arabia.
The trio are in a group of 20 people from the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Malaysia participating in the 10-day programme jointly organised by the NSYC and the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (Abim).
Besides taking part in cultural activities, the participants will stay with foster parents in Rembau and Jasin under a homestay programme. Lazim, who is fluent in the Malay language, said the programme would enable him to learn much more about Malay culture which he said had eroded in his place of origin.
He said that though his people back home could speak Malay they did not practise the customs and traditions as they were much influenced by western culture. "Therefore, an opportunity like this programme enables me to learn more about Malay customs and traditions, and I will convey what I have learnt to my people when I return," said Lazim, who is a ninth generation descendant of ancestors from Java in Indonesia. He said the Malays in this country are fortunate that they are able to safeguard their culture, religion and customs for generations in the face of strong western influence.
Meanwhile, Hassan said that despite being a Malay, he is more an Arab due to the fact that he understands and practises Arabic culture more. "I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Both my parents are from Kedah and they came to Saudi Arabia many years ago when my father pursued his studies in Islamic knowledge. That was the reason I am more comfortable in Arabic culture although I am a Malay," he said.
Hassan said that staying with foster parents under the programme would enable him to have a taste of Malay culture, like wearing baju Melayu and songkok as well as eating Malay food.
The participants had called on the Undang Luak Rembau Datuk Muhamad Sharip Othman at Balai Undang Luak Rembau here and were entertained to a silat (Malay martial arts) performance.