This article by Fendi Widianto and Joseph Lamont is from EngageMedia, a non-profit media, technology and culture organization. This story was edited and reproduced on Global Voices as part of a content sharing agreement.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to underpin life across the globe, the need to deliver public health recommendations to remote communities that speak minority languages is more urgent than ever.
In Indonesia, the government and civil society have frequently used songs to convey these messages, and in recent times, with tunes on personal hygiene and health, the importance of vaccines and the dangers of illegal drugs, among others, have found a way to get there. among the diversity of languages spoken in the vast archipelago.
Linguistically. Indonesia faces a unique challenge in terms of communication between government platforms.
There are more than 700 languages in the country – and almost half are considered endangered.
The state language, Bahasa Indonesia, is spoken by less than two thirds of the population. Furthermore, ‘music with a message’ must consider various local cultural contexts and avoid a general nationalistic approach.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JusotChD5BU (/ embed)
Singer launches theme about health
A bottom-up cultural strategy for remote communities can have positive effects in addition to conveying the message, such as empowering local cultures to adapt and find contemporary contexts for their traditional forms of expression.
The Marapu community has benefited from that cultural strategy after its officials agreed with a young singer-songwriter named Jekshon, who used a traditional kambera song to warn people of the dangers of COVID-19.
Shortly after Jekshon released the song “Rimanya na wiki nda,” which translates to “Take care of ourselves,” local officials began inviting him to sing the song at state activities and at local health facilities.
Jekhshon's song encouraged people in the eastern Sumba region, where Kambera is spoken, to fight COVID-19 and stay away from large crowds, to stay home and practice personal hygiene:
Ai kupanawa yia kata ana mbawa mangganya ni na ana nduma lurinda ai
E ngiara ningu angu nama wandata lamambabu angu dedi dangunggu ai
A ai ambu eti nu katundu njarangu angu ta ana mangganya na nduma luri kinda angu kana rehi napa hangganda ai
Kata nguduwa the umakinda angu
Kata maranawa lapa baha lima kinda angu kata mangganya ni na anna nduma luri a ai
I sing this song for all of us to take care of ourselves, to protect our lives
If someone invites us to an activity with a large number of people, brothers and sisters
It is a mistake to attend, because we need to protect the lives of others during this time
Let's stay home.
Let's wash our hands diligently to protect our health and our lives
In addition to writing music, Jekshon is also a ritual speaker (wunang), makes traditional musical instruments, and is a builder and farmer in Kamanggih, eastern Sumba, eastern Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.
Cultural sustainability through songs
Sumba Integrated Development (SIDe) – a civic organization that is part of the Inklusi Learning Network in Indonesia – has launched the VOICE Empowerment for the Marapu community in eastern Sumba.
His project aims to work in collaboration with the Marapu community to organize local workshops and performances.
This project is spearheaded by Ata Ratu, one of eastern Sumba's most beloved female models and talented singer-songwriter, and is distinguished by the fact that it requires the equal participation of women in an area of traditional music, generally dominated by men. .
In accordance with the vision of the Indonesia Inklusi network, SIDe adheres to the ethical principle of “first voice” to ensure that culture bearers are empowered and actively collaborate or guide program activities.
All marapu songs recorded in kambera are produced with Indonesian and English translations. The translations help amplify the voices, stories and songs, and the rich culture of the Marapu community of eastern Sumba.
Wit Lawiti ’- traditional poetic couplets
Ata Ratu herself has written a song on another major theme of the pandemic: the inability of stranded migrant worker populations to return to their home villages due to travel restrictions due to COVID-19.
“Mbawa Rimangu na annanduma luri mu”, which translates to “Please be careful on the journey of a lifetime”, is intended for Subanese who have left Sumba to seek work or study opportunities in Bali, Jakarta and Jogjakarta, and They cannot return to Sumba due to travel restrictions.
Many of these Subanese have lost their jobs and are experiencing financial difficulties and psychological stress as a result of this situation.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R38A09-mm8c (/ embed)
Aiha dama ni dunjaka angu la kota bali a ai.e angu la jakarta angu ni
Ai hali nggunya nu mi ana mbawa rimangu nu ha ba ninggai ha la tana tau ma aka nu
Ai ninda la hidu eti biaka nu bata pamalirungu nu ha rimanya na nduma luri amu ka
Ai ambu mbawa luangga mai dupa nu ha jiaka ningu nu lambabu ndapngu
Friends of mine who are in Bali and Jakarta
I remind you and urge everyone to be careful when traveling, as they are in a foreign land where there is a dangerous situation, friends.
We are in a state of anguish because we are far away, please take care of yourself.
Don't come and go in a place where there is a large crowd.
In the Marapu community of eastern Sumba, songs are written in traditional poetic couplets called ‘lawiti’
The lawiti eat comes from the fast ritual way used by ritual priests and speakers (wunang) that accompany all Marapu rituals in Sumba. Subanese singer-songwriters, such as Jekshon and Ata Ratu, improvise with adaptations of lawiti verses for the specific purpose of a song.
Jekshon's song was released through his YouTube channel with the help of SIDe. This song and other videos have been distributed from phone to phone via Bluetooth, or the 'Share it' application. Currently, the song plays on systems to target audiences at local markets in eastern Sumba, while SIDe has distributed the song via SD mini-cards or telephones, and systems at local market centers.
Fendi Widianto of EngageMedia is a motivated communication enthusiast dedicated to community development, creative participatory development for vulnerable groups (including groups of children with disabilities), and youth empowerment.
Joseph Lamont is an Australian producer, composer, and documentary filmmaker. Joseph has recently assisted in projects funded by the Ciptamedia / Ford Foundation and Voice concerned with helping women traditional music, and documenting and supporting traditional Marapu music in eastern Sumba, Indonesia.