Star , Sunday October 29, 2006
traditions alive for younger generation
Nik Khusairi Ibrahim
he was a young boy, Mohd Bahroodin Ahmad would stake out the Youth
Club in Jalan Gertak Merah in Johor to watch a dance instructor,
Mohi, conduct lessons.
Encik Mohi saw me peeping through the door, he would chase me
away. He did not want to teach me because he thought I was too
young, he recalled.
PERFORMANCE: Cikgu Baha is captivating in his role as Bibik Hitam,
which he is currently performing at 120 Armenian Street.
STARpic BY K. E. OOI
Bahroodin, or Cikgu Baba as he is fondly known, had a burning
desire to learn and would come back over and over again.
the steps from afar and practised till he got them right.
hard and I practised hard, said the 62-year-old cultural
activist who was last year named a Living Heritage Treasure
by the Penang Heritage Trust.
his parents objected to his involvement in cultural activities,
Cikgu Baha grew up learning the Bangsawan, boria and other
forms of traditional entertainment.
parents (policeman Ahmad Saad and housewife Puteh Yope) did not
look favourably upon their sons interest in the performing
arts because they were not comfortable whenever he took on feminine
roles at school stage shows.
especially, reminded him that entertainers did not earn enough
and that acting was not a noble profession.
But the young
Cikgu Baha, who was born in Singapore but raised in various states
including Penang, Kelantan and Johor, persisted.
was in the police force and was constantly being transferred,
and so he took the opportunity to learn the cultural performances
of the various states where they went.
He had his
first formal lesson in the performing arts while studying at an
English College (Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar). It was there that a
teacher by the name of Cikgu Mohamad taught him Javanese and other
It was also
in Johor that he was first introduced to stage performance.
the first role he played, as a fairy in Shakespeares Midsummer
later took comprehensive lessons in the performing arts under
the tutelage of Normah Salim when he was at Maktab Perguruan Bahasa
in Kuala Lumpur in 1963 and 1964.
He soon became
an expert in boria, bangsawan, ronggeng, and other forms
of traditional entertainment.
flew but I learnt everything I wanted, from dancing to singing
to producing bangsawan plays, he said.
started his teaching career in 1965 at SMK Bukit Mertajam. Twenty
years later, he was seconded to Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)
as a culture officer.
He was also
actively involved in boria groups in Penang. Cikgu Baha,
who is also a boria master, used to stage boria shows for
RTMs Dendang Rakyat slot in the 1960s.
METAMORPHOSIS: Cikgu Baha in stage costume
(left) and in real life (right).
These days, Cikgu Baha is more passionate about bangsawan.
staging Puteri Saadung in Penang early this year, I plan
to stage this Kelantan epic in Kelantan itself, he said.
interest in Puteri Saadung started when I was in Kelantan
many years ago. But it took me many years to finally put the play
is my fervent wish to stage the Puteri Saadung play in
Kelantan where the legendary princess used to live, he said.
said it was Kelantans rich cultural traditions that inspired
him to become a cultural activist.
was in Kelantan where I learnt dikir barat and makyong.
I used to play the character of comedian Peran in the makyong
performances, he said.
confessed that his love for the performing arts gave him little
time to pursue any serious relationship.
must keep the traditions alive so that our younger generations
appreciate our cultural heritage, he said.
more famous students are Zaibo or Zainal Abidin Abdul Hamid and
dramatist Mubarak Majid.
come under his charge and Cikgu Baha would take good care of them.
them like my own children. They stayed with me. I cooked for them,
and prepared their school uniforms. I even paid their school examination
think that Cikgu Baha is alone. But I am not alone. I have hundreds
of children who care about me. They still visit me from time to
time, he said.
had a kidney removed in May. Six years ago, he had a heart bypass
his health, he carries on with passion.
He is now
playing the role of Bibik Hitam in the eponymous monologue that
tells of the life and tales of a Nyonya from the days of yore.
outlook in life is also reflected in the way he jokes about his
now extra slim figure.
play the role of Bibik Hitam, I must have a slim figure because
Bibik Hitam advocates the need to jaga badan (keep the
shape) to jaga suami (take care of husband), he said.
Hitam is on every Saturday at 120 Armenian Street (show
time: 9.30am and 11am). Admission fee of RM20 per person includes
light refreshment. Bookings can be made through Adeline (012-317
5498 or 04-262 0123).