In the past, Ko Sia was a small hamlet with long houses of the Ede ethnic people. It is one of four ancient hamlets which make up present-day Buon Me Thuot City. When the city was expanded, Ko Sia Hamlet in Tan Lap Ward was urbanised and the cultural features of the Ede people were gradually lost. In this situation, more than 10 years ago, village elder Ma Len gathered the senior people in the hamlet to set up a gong troupe of Ko Sia Hamlet to teach young villagers to play the gongs, a unique cultural identity of the Ede group in Tay Nguyen (the Central Highlands)
Recalling that period, old Ma Len said: “The Ede people in Ko Sia Hamlet crave listening to gongs, like a stream craving water in the dry season in Tay Nguyen. When we opened classes to teach young people to play gongs, the sounds of the gongs resounding from the long house in the evening overwhelm the sounds of the street loudspeaker, quenching the thirst of the villagers for the sounds of the mountains and forests.”
The long house is the traditional house of the Ede ethnic people. It is the residence of the whole family and is often lengthened whenever a female member of the family gets married. The house is built of wood and bamboo and has a thatch roof. It is the place where ceremonies of gong playing are held when the hamlet welcomes visitors who come from afar.
initially, the gong classes were organised in the long house of old Ma Len, attracting the curiosity of the city residents and tourists. Many foreign visitors went to Ko Sia Hamlet in the evening to listen to the lessons of singing and gong beating taught by the artisans.
Thanks to the effective operation of the gong troupe of Ko Sia Hamlet, the young villagers can play the gongs and actively participate in the cultural festivals organised by Dak Lak Province and the Central Highlands, making the name of Ko Sia Hamlet known in the region. Three years ago, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Dak Lak Province asked old Ma Len and the gong troupe of Ko Sia Hamlet to introduce the culture of the Ede people to tourists. The travel companies also contacted them to develop a tour to Ko Sia Hamlet to diversify the forms of tourism in the Central Highlands.
Since Ko Sia Hamlet developed tourism, the life of the Ede people in the hamlet has improved remarkably. Old Ae Yon in Ko Sia said: “Now, our hamlet specialises in the development of tourism. Women prepare traditional dishes of the Ede people for visitors to enjoy, young people establish folk singing troupes and elder people like us play gongs in the long house.”
Every week Ko Sia Hamlet welcomes dozens of groups of tourists who come to enjoy the sounds of gongs and the unique culture of the Ede people. Every evening, at the long house, tourists can enjoy the traditional festivals of the hamlet, such as the new rice welcoming ceremony, the New Year ceremony and the harvest praying ceremony which are reproduced by the village artisans and villagers
At the long house of old Ma Len we met a group of students from the Faculty of Oriental Studies of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities while they were listening to the sweet folk songs of the Ede people. Student Nguyen Tuan Hung said: “I am learning about the culture of the ethnic groups in the Central Highlands as the subject of my graduation thesis. Here, listening and watching the artisansplaying gongs and singing folk songs we can see the culture of the whole Central Highland contained in the long house.”
Talking about the efficiency of the tourism development of Ko Sia Hamlet, Nguyen Minh Duc, Deputy Chairman of Tan Lap Ward said: “The product ‘tourists in the long house’ in Ko Sia Hamlet has become a unique form of tourism of our locality. Through this product the Ede people have opportunities to introduce their culture to international friends, and more importantly, we have achieved success in the cultural conservation associated with economic development.”