Low-Key Independence Day Celebration in Remote North Maluku Island

By webadmin on 10:33 am Aug 17, 2012
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Bayu Adi Persada

[Indonesia Mengajar (Indonesia Teaches) is a volunteer-based educational program that was started by Anies Baswedan, the rector at Paramadina University in Jakarta, to send top graduates from around the country to teach in rural areas. This is the story of how a Pengajar Muda (Young Teacher) found his passion.]

Click here to read ‘Young Teacher’s Journey to Build Learning Facilities in Remote North Maluku Island,’ the fifth part of ‘Journal of a Young Teacher’ series.

I was stationed in Bibinoi village, population 1,300, in North Maluku’s Bacan Island. When my feet first touched Bibinoi’s sand and I laid eyes on local people’s faces, all my worries were washed away. Although I could not find a single bar on my cell phone signal indicator and electricity had been installed but hasn’t been stable, I was grateful to be there.

The locals said that local politics is their only form of entertainment. With limited phone signal and unstable electricity, it’s reasonable why they indulged in such pastime. As I had pointed in previous blog posts, education in Bibinoi is not of top-priority for the society. Thus, there were very few educational events in the area.

In Bibinoi, Independence Day is commonly celebrated with a ceremonial event, that is annual flag-hoisting ceremony. Such a pity considering kids ought to stand for two hours listening to rather boring speech.

In many parts of the country, celebration of the Indonesian Independence Day is observed by people of many ages, genders and races. The local celebrations include creative and unique, traditional games like balap karung (sack race) and panjat pinang (climbing on palm trees), tarik tambang (tug of war), among others.

When asked why there is no such celebrations in the village, the locals said, “No money, Sir.”

Money is indeed an important part in our life, but it’s not the only thing that matters. That said, with limited funds, fellow Pengajar Muda Adhi Nugroho and I, partnering with Bibinoi Youth League (IRBI) insisted to organize a celebration to keep the spirits alive.

Apart from any typical contest like sack race and tug of war, I added other competitions such as reading the proclamation text. Every contest brought its own joy, and the whole event itself was extraordinary.

Although the Independence Day fell during the fasting month of Ramadan, it did not lessen the enthusiasms. Not only the kids who took part, even locals from surrounding areas came to cheer for the contestants.

As a teacher, one of my missions was to raise the locals’ awareness on the importance of education and nationalism. The children must grow up to be better in every aspect than their parents. The parents – most were farmers, fishermen, tailors – might not be educated, but the children must.

My mission as a Pengajar Muda in Bibinoi was not to find to comfort and luxury; it’s to give these disadvantaged kids a dream. A dream they can hold on to their entire life. Hosting such event is one step forward to reach that goal.