Thousands of devoted Catholics congregated at Uma Apan, Long Mejawah a stone throw downriver from the mega hydroelectric dam Bakun last weekend.
Ironically, the electricity that lights the nights at this modern longhouse, resembling a terrace house in Sarawak cities, was from diesel-powered generators.
About 156 years ago, Charles Brooke, the Rajah Muda of Sarawak set his foot at Mejawah valley, trying to tame what he and his officials believed to be brutal, savage peoples.
Charles Brooke was leading some 15,000 peoples according to certain estimate, hunting down the murderers of Fox and Steele, two Brooke officers manning Fort Emma at Kanowit in 1859.
The murderers, Sawing, and Sekalai fled up the Rejang and take refuge among the Kejaman longhouse at Tuju Matahap, just above the confluence of Belaga and Balui.
In an effort to tame and governed these brutal, savage peoples Hugh Brooke Low was instructed to built a fort in Belaga.
The fort officially declared completed on Jan 13, 1884, according to Sarawak Gazette records. The Fort name Fort Vyner, unfortunately, razed to ashes in a fire a few years ago.
Today these so called brutal, savage peoples are embracing Christianity – they celebrate Christmas, Paschal instead of some pagan related animism beliefs – like Bungan for example.
Long gone the traditions of keeping charms, believing in superstitious things. They now believed in Christ.
Congregating at Long Mejawah since April 12 till yesterday were over 2,000 Catholics parishioners from Tubau, Asap, and Belaga observing the Paschal Mystery.
It is one of the central concepts of Catholic faith relating to the history of salvation. Its main subject is the passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ – the work God the Father sent his Son to accomplish on earth.
They were led by Rev Fr John Chia and Rev Fr Sylvester Ngau.