If you didn't know already, this event was held as part of What About Kuching 2018 which is drawing to a close. I had the chance to attend the event yesterday at Fort Margherita.
For the uninitiated, there is actually a new gallery inside the restored fort which has been in operation since last year. Aptly named Brooke Gallery, it was a herculean effort that drew little attention (at least among my circle of friends) which led to the creation of what is, in my opinion, a truly wonderful showcase in Sarawak's unique history.
The stroll is actually sort of a guided tour through the gallery. Led by Paul Gerarts, a volunteer heritage tour guide, we were given a brief but informative insight into the formation of Sarawak.
The participants had the chance to hear about James Brooke's role in the creation of Sarawak as well the Brooke's family's efforts to forge Sarawak into what it is today. To me, it was a very refreshing take the land's history, which unfortunately has been neglected in the official narrative for far too long.
Many people had assumed that Sarawak went through a period of oppressive colonialisation by western powers. It could not be further from the truth in Sarawak. This explains why until today, you'll find many native Sarawakians who speaks fondly of the White Rajahs. This is truly a unique aspect in Sarawak's history.
Why, you may ask? Well, visit the Brooke Gallery yourself and you will find out all about what they have done for what was back then the independent country of Sarawak.
All I could say is, Sarawak has a truly unique story compared to other states in the federation. This WAK event, in my opinion, has successfully showcased an important piece of that story via the gallery and many people will come to know the true history of Sarawak as word spreads among the Kuching populace about this still relatively unknown cultural gem.
The event lasted for an hour and a half and Paul did a great job of providing a lot of information within a short time. It would've been more interesting if he introduced more about himself at the start though. We left the place wondering who he was and why did he volunteer for the event. Maybe everyone else there knew who he was (which meant that me and my friends were very ignorant, lol).
Would I recommend a visit to the Gallery? A resounding yes. I will pay a visit again sometime in the future just to digest the tremendous amount of carefully researched information and artefacts pertaining to the state's foundation.
For more information, do visit The Brooke Gallery's website.