Have you guys heard of JOHO? Well, I heard it for the first time from carlsamsudin.blogspot.com on a certain JB Anthology Workshop, which I eventually attended. JOHO is not an association, nor is it an organisation. The name 'JOHO' is not an abbreviation of any sort...it's just "joho". Why? They rationalise that when people pronounce the state of Johor (in Malay)...it's pronounce with a silent 'R'. So it becomes 'Joho' instead of 'Johor' with an 'R'. Simple...huh?
Whats with JOHO anyway? I've yet to fully understand what's it all about but I think by the side now I got the picture. JOHO is a community set-up by a bunch of young guys...with the objective to promote the talents of young Johoreans in all sorts of art - expressionists, artists, photographers, film-makers, copywriters...etc. And I am amazed at what they have done so far. It's a community that moves on its own...which is great, because it's not influenced by any 'parties' that have hidden agenda. And I hope that it will stay that way. The one thing that I like most, is that this community provides a platform for the youngs to express themselves. That'll pull them out from the streets and hopefully this would reduce the effects of social-ills among the youngs. Kudos to the brains that started it in the first place.
I'm not a Johorean and I'm not a youngster anymore (though I wish...he he). But I'd support this community in any way that I could. You see, when I first heard of Johor and someone proposed that I move down here to work, I said "Oh, no. Johor is the last state that I would go to work to". You know why? Because when I was in college, I met a few Johorean friends and they didn't give me the impression that Johoreans are humble beings. Later on, I heard that the cost of living in Johor is quite high.
But fate has it that I moved down here in 2000 due to a broken heart ("membawa hati yang lara"). And I've been here since...married a Johorean, even. Hmmm... The first thing that caught me back was to find that the people are indeed very friendly and accommodating. Then I had the 'culture shock'...which was the food. Where on earth in Malaysia would you find 'laksa' (white mee) made of spaghetti? And the Yong Tau Foo is made in soup...instead of the dark gravy. Then I got confused between Mee Bandung and Mee Jawa, which I was familiar with, in the Klang Valley. To top it all, the first time I ever saw a real Duku tree...was in Kg. Tiram Duku...a village very close to the port that I was working in. Duku is my favourite fruit...but I've never seen the tree. Peghak... Finally I got hooked on Soto...with Mihun.
As years went by, I have to acknowledge that Johor is a state full of ancestorial memories. There are still centuries-old houses and buildings scattered around the main town JB...but sadly, not so much emphasis was made to preserve these. Especially the old houses. Johor is full of culture too. Aside from the main three, there are also Javanees, Banjarians, Bugists; who have their own dialects, food and 'adat'. Then there's the music - ghazal, zapin and others. Oh! And I got to watch the real Kuda Kepang...some time ago. It was eerie indeed.
So I wish that JOHO could promote these as well in their activities, apart from the modern-age arts. Yeah...check these guys out. They are based in a 'house' just in front of Selat Tebrau...called The Lost Malaya.