Buru Island

Buru Island

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Buru (formerly spelt Boeroe) is the third largest island within Maluku Islands of Indonesia. It lies between the Banda Sea to the south and Seram Sea to the north, west of Ambon and Seram islands. The island belongs to Maluku province (Indonesian: Provinsi Maluku) and includes the Buru (Indonesian: Kabupaten Buru) and South Buru (Indonesian: Kabupaten Buru Selatan) regencies. Their administrative centers, Namlea and Namrole, respectively, have ports and the largest towns of the island. There is a military airport at Namlea which supports civilian cargo transportation.

About a third of the population is indigenous, mostly Buru, but also Lisela, Ambelau and Kayeli people. The rest of population are immigrants from Java and nearby Maluku Islands. The religious affiliation is evenly split between Christianity and Sunni Islam, with some remnants of traditional beliefs. While local languages and dialects are spoken within individual communities, the national Indonesian language is used among the communities and by the administration. Most of the island is covered with forests rich in tropical flora and fauna. From the present 179 bird and 25 mammal species, about 14 are found either on Buru only or also on a few nearby islands, the most notable being the wild pig Buru babirusa. There is little industry on the island, and most population is engaged in growing rice, maize, sweet potato, beans, coconuts, cocoa, coffee, clove and nutmeg. Other significant activities are animal farming and fishing.

The island was first mentioned around 1365. Between 1658 and 1942, it was colonised by the Dutch East India Company and then by the Crown of the Netherlands. The Dutch administration relocated many local villages to the newly built island capital at Kayeli Bay for working at clove plantations. It also promoted the hierarchy among the indigenous people with selected loyal rajas placed above the heads of the local clans. The island was occupied by the Japanese forces between 1942 and 1945 and in 1950 became part of independent Indonesia. During former president Suharto’s New Order administration in the 1960s–1970s, Buru was the site of a prison used to hold thousands of political prisoners. While held at Buru, writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer wrote most of his novels, including Buru Quartet.

Ethnic  Groups

Buru

Buru people (Indonesian: Suku Buru) is an ethnic group mostly living on Indonesian island Buru, as well as on some other Maluku Islands. They also call themselves gebfuka or gebemliar that literally means “people of the world” or “people of the land”. Buru people are related to the eastern Indonesian anthropological group and from an ethnographic point of view are similar to other indigenous peoples of the island Buru. They speak Buru language.[1][2]

About 33,000 of 35,000 Buru people live on the island of Buru; they make about a quarter of the island population (about 135,000 as of 2009) and are the most numerous ethnicity of Buru; about 2,000 live on Ambon Island and several hundred are scattered over other islands in the Indonesian province of Maluku and the capital Jakarta. There is a small Buru community in the Netherlands formed by the descendants of the soldiers of Republic of South Moluccas (Indonesian: Republik Maluku Selatan) who moved there after the accession of this self-proclaimed state in Indonesia in 1950.[2]

Buru people are evenly spread over Buru island, except for some parts of the northern coast and the central mountainous part which is sparsely populated. Their relative fraction is somewhat lower in the towns, such as Namrole and Namlea, owing to inflow of people of other Indonesian ethnicities.[3] In the initial period of the Dutch colonization of the island in the middle of the 17th century, much of the tribal nobility of Buru was moved to the eastern part and later became one of the components in the ethnogenesis of ethnic Kayeli people. Several ethnic groups are distinguished within Buru people, which differ in lifestyle and language specifics – Rana (14,258 people mainly in the central part of the island), Masarete (about 9,600 people mainly in the south), Wae Sama (6,622 people mostly in the south-east) and Fogi (about 500 people in the west).[3]

Language

The nation speaks Buru language, which belongs to the Central Maluku branch of the Malayo-Polynesian languages.[2] Three dialects are distinguished according to the major ethnic groups of Rana, Masarete and Wae Sama. In addition, some 3,000–5,000 of Rana people along with their main dialect use the so-called “secret dialect” Ligahan. The western dialect Fogi is now extinct.[4] Lexical differences between the dialects are relatively small: about 90% between Masarete and Wae Sama, 88% between Masarete and Rana and 80% between Wae Sama and Rana. Apart from native dialects, most Buru people, especially in the coastal regions and towns have knowledge of the official language of the country, Indonesian. The coastal population also uses the Ambon dialect of Malay language (Melayu Ambon), which is a simplified Indonesian language with additions of the local lexicon.[1][2]

Religion

Religiously, Buru people are divided into comparable fractions of Sunni Muslims, who mostly live in the south of the island, and Christians-Protestants in the north. Remnants of traditional local beliefs persist almost everywhere, and in the central areas of the island many openly profess the cult of the supreme deity Opo Hebe Snulat and his messenger Nabiat. The economical crisis of the 1990s resulted in frequent conflicts among Buru people over religious grounds. So within a few days in December 1999, 43 people were killed and at least 150 houses burned in the Wainibe village.[5][6]

Lifestyle

Most Buru people are engaged in farming rice, maize, sago, sweet potato and various spice, such as allspice, nutmeg and Eucalyptus tree, which is used for aromatic oil. In the inland areas, they also hunt the wild pig Buru babirusa, deer and possum, and take part in tuna fishing on the coast.[1] In the urban areas, the growing number of Buru people take jobs in the industrial enterprises. Traditional Buru houses are made from bamboo, often on stilts. The roofs are covered with palm leaves or reeds, with tiles becoming progressively popular. National Buru costume is similar that of most other Indonesia peoples. Men wear sarong (a kind of kilt) and a long-skirted tunic, and women are dressed in sarong and a shorter jacket. However, the colors and decor items differ quite substantially among Masarete, Wae Sama and Rana. Traditional Buru weapons are straight machete (parang) and a short spear. In the past, Buru hunters were famed for their spear throwing skills. Buru people, along with the Muslim or Christian names, also use traditional ones, the most common being Lesnussa, Latbual, Nurlatu, Lehalima, Wael and Sigmarlatu.

Lisela

Lisela people (Indonesian: Suku Lisela) is an ethnic group mostly living on Indonesian island Buru, as well as on some other Maluku Islands. They belong to the eastern Indonesian antLiselahropological group and are sometimes referred to as northern Buru people. From an ethnographic point of view, Lisela are similar to other indigenous peoples of Buru island. They speak Lisela language.[1]

The total number of Lisela people is about 13,000, of which more than 11,000 live on Buru and a few hundreds on Ambon Island. On Buru, Lisela peoples live quite compactly in a narrow strip of lowland along the northern coast and constitute the ethnic majority in this region, despite their fraction in the total population is only about 8%.[2][3] During the Dutch colonization in the first half of the 17th century, much of Lisela people had been relocated to the eastern part of Buru for working at the Dutch plantations; they later became part of Kayeli people.[4]

The nation speaks Lisela language, which belongs to the Central Maluku branch of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, a dialect tagalisa is distinguished within Lisela language. Most Lisela people also speak the official language of Indonesia, Indonesian or the Ambon dialect of Malay language (Melayu Ambon), which is a simplified Indonesian language with additions of the local lexicon.[1] The vast majority of Lisela people are Sunni Muslims with some remnant of the traditional local beliefs that sometimes result in unique syncretic cults and rituals. For example, wedding begins with selling the bride by her parents’ house, in accordance with the traditional ritual minta bini and culminates with the collective Muslim prayer.[2]

Most Lisela people are engaged in farming rice, maize, sago, sweet potato and various spice, such as allspice, nutmeg and Eucalyptus tree used for aromatic oil. In the inland areas, they also hunt the wild pig Buru babirusa, deer and possum, and take part in tuna fishing on the coast. In the urban areas, the growing number of Lisela people take jobs in the industrial enterprises. Traditional Buru houses are made from bamboo, often on stilts. The roofs are covered with palm leaves or reeds, with tiles becoming progressively popular. National Buru costume is similar that of most other Indonesia peoples. Men wear sarong (a kind of kilt) and a long-skirted tunic, and women are dressed in sarong and a shorter jacket.[2]

Ambelau

The Ambelau (Indonesian: Suku Ambelau) are an ethnic group who form the majority of the population of the Indonesian island of Ambelau. They also live on nearby island Buru and other islands. By ethnography, Ambelau are close to most indigenous peoples of Buru island. They number aAmbelaubout 6,000 and speak Ambelau language.[1][2]

Ambelau people form a majority on Ambelau and each of its settlements and they inhabit the coastal areas of the island.[3] The largest Ambelau community outside Ambelau island is the village of Wae Tawa (700 people) south-east of Buru. Its members maintain their ethnic identity and keep cultural, social and economic ties with Ambelau island. Ambelau minorities also live in other parts of Buru, on Ambon and other Maluku Islands and in Jakarta.[3][2] During the Dutch colonization in the first half of the 17th century, most Ambelau people were forced to move to Buru to work on the Dutch spice plantations.[1]

The nation speaks Ambelau language, which belongs to the Central Maluku branch of the Malayo-Polynesian languages.[2] Most of Ambelau people also speak Indonesian or the Ambon dialect of Malay language (Melayu Ambon), which is a simplified Indonesian language with additions of the local lexicon.[1] The vast majority are Sunni Muslims with a small fraction of Christians, and remnants of traditional local beliefs.[3]

Most Ambelau people are engaged in farming. The mountainous terrain of Ambelau island hinders cultivation of rice, which is the major crop of the region, and therefore maize, sago, sweet potato, cocoa, coco[disambiguation needed], allspice and nutmeg are grown instead in the coastal areas. Some residents of Ambelau work at the sago plantation on Buru.[1] Hunting the wild pig Buru babirusa is common, but tuna fishing is mostly localized to the villages of Massawa and Ulima. Traditional Buru houses are made from bamboo, often on stilts. The roofs are covered with palm leaves or reeds, with tiles becoming progressively popular.[3] National Buru costume is similar that of most other Indonesia peoples. Men wear sarong (a kind of kilt) and a long-skirted tunic, and women are dressed in sarong and a shorter jacket. The specificity of Ambelau clothing is the preference of red color in holiday attire, which also includes hats of peculiar shape – a peaked cap with a plume for men and dressing with panache for women.[4]

Kayeli

Kayeli people (Indonesian: Suku Kayeli) is an ethnic group mainly living on the southern coast of the Kayeli Bay of Indonesian island Buru. From an ethnographic point of view Kayeli are close to other indigenous people of Buru, such as Lisela and Buru. There were about 800 Kayeli people in the early 2000s.[1][2] By religion, most Kayeli are Sunni Muslims, with some remnants of pagan beliefs. [1][3]

Ethnogenesis of Kayeli is directly associated with the colonization of the Buru island by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century. In 1658, the first permanent Dutch settlement and a military fort were built at the southern coast of Kayeli Bay, and for two centuries it was the administrative center of the island. Accordingly, thousands of indigenous people were forcibly relocated to this area from other parts of the island, including much of the tribal nobility, and about thirteen large villages had been built around the fort. The relocation was designed to facilitate control over the local population and provide workforce for clove fields which were being planted by the Dutch in this part of the island. Kayeli ethnicity with its own language was formed as a mixture of the newly arriving settlers and the native population of the fort area. The presence among the ancestors of the tribal aristocracy and interaction with the Dutch colonial administration resulted in a special position of Kayeli over the next centuries, who claimed the role of indigenous elite of the island.

Upon gradual softening of the colonial system, many tribes which were moved to Kayeli Bay started returning to their ancestral homes. So in 1880s, the leaders (rajas) of Leliali, Wae Sama and Fogi moved back a significant part of their ethnic groups; they were joined in the early 1900s by Tagalisa. So the Muslim (indigenous) population of Kayeli fort decreased from 1,400 in the 1850s to 231 in 1907. The decay was accelerated by the departure of the Dutch in the 1950s and formation of independent Indonesia. The fort was abandoned and most Kayeli people were assimilated by other tribes.[2] Whereas a small Kayeli community still remains at Kayeli Bay, their language is likely lost.[1][3][4]

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