The Oral History Section of the Tun Jugah Foundation is entrusted with the task of carrying out research activities on oral history and literature of the Iban community in Sarawak. The need to collect and preserve various forms of Iban oral literature has become more urgent in recent years. With rapid encroachment and stiff competition from electronic and print media for various forms of cultural products attractive to the younger generations, oral literature which is intangible in nature is in imminent danger of being slowly forgotten and lost.
Furthermore, the number of experts in Iban oral literature and oral history are getting fewer nowadays. In fact, interest among the younger generations to acquire knowledge on Iban oral literature is on a declining trend now. The Foundation also feels that with the declining interest shown in oral literature, the younger generation are getting less insight into Iban thoughts and customs because, embedded in those traditional chants, songs and stories are coded messages to the Iban beliefs, values and ways of life.
Oral history/literature is especially at risk because of its intangible nature. Yet, taken as a whole, oral history/literature tends to express the core symbols and values of a culture and act as an important source of identity. The settings in which many oral forms were performed in the past are now disappearing and in many cases the younger generation is no longer able to understand the worldview, values and language reflected in traditional literary and ritual forms.
In view of the above circumstances, the Oral History Section of the Tun Jugah Foundation feels the urgent need to record, document and conserve as full a record as possible of Iban oral literature and oral history. In fact, it is the continuing purpose of the Foundation to promote cultural heritage preservation, research and documentation aimed at maintaining and enriching Iban culture.