Yonabaru Town Culture Association forms Shimakutuba drama group “ObaQ”

Yonabaru Town Culture Association forms Shimakutuba drama group

Members of "Yonabaru ObaQ" at Yonaburu Kindergarten.

January 24, 2014 Koei Chibana, correspondent of Ryukyu Shimpo

Yonabaru Town Culture Association Children Culture Club has been working to promote familiarization of Shimakutuba, the endangered Okinawan language to children. The organization formed a Shimakutuba drama group “Yonabaru ObaQ.”

On January 17, Yonabaru Town Kindergarten held a parent-child craft event for muchi or traditional Okinawan rice cake. The group performed a picture-story show and a skit about the origin of Uni Muchi for the first time. Thrilling the children and young parents, the group received a favorable reception. The group consists of eight women, including the 85-year-old leader of the club Setsuko Chinen. Led by Chinen and Sumiko Yabiku, a member of Town’s Education and Children Committee, the group has been teaching the language at elementary schools and kindergartens. They have been promoting Shimakutuba.

Yabiku wrote “Folklore: Uni Muchi” in Shimakutuba. Rieko Uehara recounted a story and other members performed it with humor. The principal of the kindergarten Tsunemasa Kuwae said, “The children used to listen occasionally to Shimakutuba stories, so their skit was easy to understand.” Chinen said, “Because we are a group of seniors, we named it ‘Oba (Grandma in Okinawan dialect) Q’. We will continue to practice and promote the language.”

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

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