My Jakarta: Kartum Setiawan of Komunitas Jelajah Budaya
Tasa Nugraza Barley
Kartum Setiawan has always been fascinated by history and culture. While studying history at the University of Indonesia, he founded Komunitas Jelajah Budaya, a group that holds monthly tours of Jakarta’s historic buildings and museums.
The 35-year-old, who earned his master’s degree in museology and archaeology in 2010, works with about 30 active group members to explore interesting places in the capital such as Kota Tua (Old Town) and places of interest in the area including the Wayang Museum, the Jakarta History Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics. For just Rp 50,000 ($5.60), participants can enjoy a guided tour of these institutions.
Kartum said the tours attract a wide range of people from all different backgrounds, including international tourists, with a common interest in the city’s history.
What motivated you to establish Komunitas Jelajah Budaya?
My intention to create the group was related to my educational background. As someone who studied history and archeology, I felt that I needed to share my knowledge with other people.
We need to persuade people to visit the historic buildings and places in this country because there are so many things we can learn from them. For instance, we can learn about our nation’s identity and character.
This community aims to make people aware that the historic buildings and places in Indonesia need to be preserved. By encouraging people to learn more about their own history and culture in a fun way, they will eventually realize the necessity of these places.
Have you always liked history and culture?
I have liked things related to history and culture for as long as I can remember. I’m always amazed by the large number of ethnic groups in Indonesia.
Where do the community’s tours usually cover?
There are so many historic buildings and places in Jakarta. These historic venues are scattered across the capital, from Kepulauan Seribu to Kota Tua in West Jakarta.
What do you think about the state of Jakarta’s historic buildings? Are they being maintained enough?
Most of the unmaintained historic buildings are located in Kota Tua. In this area, many of the buildings are empty and unused so they tend to fall into disrepair quickly.
In other areas, such as in Central Jakarta, many historic buildings are still used as museums or offices.
What should the city do to better protect these sites?
The city administration should be more proactive in preserving historic buildings and places in Jakarta because they are protected by law.
The city administration must have the courage to punish owners who have neglected them, and, at the same time it should appreciate those who can turn historic buildings into beneficial ones, such as museums, art galleries or cultural centers.
What are your favorite historic sites in Jakarta and Indonesia?
The one in Jakarta that I like the most is Onrust island, which is part of Kepulauan Seribu. I like visiting the island because it has a long history.
Outside of the capital, my favorite place is the Trowulan in Mojokerto in East Java. Since it was once the capital of Majapahit kingdom, the area has so many temples. Besides that, you can also witness the process of archaeological excavation first hand.
Apart From Komunitas Jelajah Budaya, do you have another job?
Aside from administering the community, I’m also a research supervisor at the Museum Mandiri in Kota Tua. My job mainly focuses on conducting research and developing the museum.
I also serve as a consultant for several museums in Indonesia, and I write articles about history and culture for several newspapers.
Do you have any future plans Komunitas Jelajah Budaya?
Right now, I have so many future plans for the community. One is to create educational programming that doesn’t only focus on historic buildings in Jakarta. I would really love to introduce the public to the historic, cultural buildings in other cities.
How has the public responded to Komunitas Jelajah Budaya?
The response has been great so far. We receive more participants with each event or activity that we hold. We are very happy about that.
Kartum Setiawan spoke to Tasa Nugraza Barley