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Momuna tribe: Faith and the way of living

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Momuna people in Yahukimo District. -Jubi/Piter Lokon

Momuna tribe, who live in the lowland of Dekai City, has in common with Korowai tribe, a tribe who spreads in the three administrative areas of Boven Digoel, Mappi and Asmat. The most common between these two tribes is the shape of their traditional house, which is built on a tree. Momuna people call their tree house buku subu.

However, it has changed as the time flies. Currently, Momuna people are rarely living in the tree house. They live in regular houses that were provided by the government of Yahukimo District as part of their social development program. Yet, people still build the buku subu in order to attract some local and domestic tourists to visit their village in Dekai.

Regarding to faith, Momuna tribe always own their belief about creation since long time ago. “We don’t believe in trees or rivers. We believe that there is the One who creates us,” the Momuna tribe chief Ismail Keikera recently told Jubi in his house.

Momuna people believe in the existence of the Creator, and it must have its own place. Therefore, there are some places that regarded as the sacred ones. “In the past, there are some sacred places or prohibitions from our ancestors. These are still believed until now by this generation,” said Keikera.

He made an example. There is a prohibition from the elders for not cutting down or even touching the redwood or in Momuna language is called koweni. Once it is touched, people who have done it could lose their mind. “Many patients that we’ve seen in the hospital were thrashing like crazy, a madman. It is because they touched the koweni tree. If it happened to us (Momuna tribe), there is no need to be taken to the hospital, just give it a blow for a while. They must be cured,” he said.

Given to this fact, however, Momuna tribe has never worshipped trees, stones or rivers. “We only worship the Potmadito (God the Creator) who rules the heaven and the earth. It’s almost similar to the story in the Bible. So, we believe in the existence of God the Creator.”

Gathering and hunting for food

Momuna people do fishing or in their language it calls ci, ploughing sago or mbi, and collecting wild yams or mate for survival. In addition, they also hunt for a living that usually for wild boar, cassowary, crocodile, turtle and so on.

Ismail said sago and yams have always become their staple food. “Not eating sago makes people weak. Rice is just coming recently.”

According to him, only certain people are allowed to cutting down the sago trees. As it is Momuna’s staple food, cutting down the sago trees is clearly to killing Momuna people. “Anyone who’ve caught out cutting down the sago tree could be fined up to Rp 50 million. So, don’t dare to mess with our sago trees because it’s our staple food. Cutting down the sago trees is equal to killing one life,” he said.

However, he did not deny that the government has distributed rice under the rice for poor or rice for prosperous programs, which was a direct assistance of Yahukimo District Government, through PD Irian Bakti to village apparatus.

Since long time ago, Ismail said, their ancestors were always moving around. When the source of food was run out, they had to move to other location for opening a new planting field.

Anthropologists say there are three kinds of nomadic lifestyle, namely hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, and peripatetic nomads.  Hunter-gatherer, according to experts, is the longest survival method in human history. They move to other places to follow the season of the wild plantation and hunting animals. The rotation of swidden cultivation will last for 20 years, and people will always return to their original location for gardening because the land is already fertile.

Shifting cultivation actually fit with real conditions in the field. If soil fertility begins to diminish, people will leave the land in order to improve the cycle of fertility. It is much different to what has been applied in permanent cultivation because the tropical lands are not always fertile if not fertilized.

Indonesian anthropologist Prof. Dr. Subur Budi Santoso stated in his research that the work ethic of the hunter-gatherer people is very strong in a way to achieve the best possible results without destroying the environment. It is an example of the patterns of human adaptation.  (*)

 

Reporter: Piter Lokon

Editor: Pipit Maizier

Arts & Culture

Hungarian student attracted to traditional Papuan food

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Regina Laurents while processing sago with Papuan women from Kwadeware, Sentani. – Jubi/Engel Wally

Jayapura, Jubi – Papua is always an attractive place for international tourists to visit every year, and a Hungarian student Regina Laurents, who said coming to Papua because interested in studying the Papuan culture including its culinary method such as how to process sago traditionally, is just an example of it.

“I observe the traditional sago processing method is very good. I had eaten sago in Sulawesi once but never knew how to prepare it. I am happy that I can see its process here directly,” said Regina while attending the Sago Festival II in Kwadeware, Jayapura District on Thursday (21/06/2018).

Laurents is a culinary student who is undergoing an exchange program in Indonesia. For two years, she has been in various Indonesia regions, in particular, Papua to learn the traditional food processing method. Therefore, she felt lucky attending the Sago Festival. “I am pleased that I can learn a lot here, and I will certainly tell my friends about Papua.”

Moreover, She hopes this festival would continue to promote the Papuan traditional culinary as well as to attract more international tourists to come.

Sago Festival II was held in Kwadeware Village of Waibhu Sub-district, Jayapura District on Thursday (21/06/2018). Despite a variety of processed and traditional foods made from sago exhibited at the festival, visitors can also observe how to process raw sago before it becomes a delicious food. (*)

 

Reporter: Engel Wally

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Kosapa promotes the born of young Papuan authors

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Writing skills training for young Papuans held by Kosapa. – Jubi/Hengky Yeimo

Jayapura, Jubi – Benediktus Tigi told Jubi he was glad to participate in a series of writing skills training held by Papuan Literature Community (Kosapa) in Papua.

“I am happy to participate in a training on poetry writing, because of that, some of my wirings published in the Kosapa media. I also hope Kosapa can continue to conduct a training for Papuan youth to keep them update,” he said.

The Papuan Literature Community, known as Kosapa, was established in June 2009 following a discussion of two founders Gusti Masan Raya and Andi Tagihuma on Facebook. Later they initiated to form a Facebook group.

“It was born following to our concern on the literature development in Papua that has been stagnant at that moment while we knew that Papuans live in the midst of the richness of literature,” Tagihuma told Jubi at the Kosapa Library on Sunday (17/6/2018).

In the same year, he continued, Kosapa not only conducted a discussion on Facebook but also held various activities including the book review, film screenings, journalistic training and essays writing training for students. It even created a website www.sastrapapua.com.

In October 2012, Kosapa collaborated with Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati to conduct Event Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Jayapura and then with Jubi to manage with the literature section that published every Friday.

In 2017, Kosapa published three books of short story anthology, poetry, and wise words. The publication of these books was aimed to encourage the literature development in Papua and appreciated the Papuan authors who wrote those books.

“Currently there are eight drafts of books that ready to publish,” said Tagihuma who was the coordinator of Kosapa until 2016. He also hopes Papuan authors not only get recognition locally but also internationally.

Since 2016, Kosapa has a new board, Hengky Yeimo as the coordinator and Aleks Giay as the secretary. It continues with a series of activities including literacy campaign, training on both fiction and non-fiction writing skills for both students and public, reading poetry, consolidation of literature activists in Papua and public gathering to watch documentary films related to science, weekly and monthly discussion session involving the literature and cultural activists in Jayapura City.

The secretary of Kosapa Alex Giyai said Kosapa established to promote the local culture and Papuan literature that closely related to oral culture. “We must save the oral culture in the form of writing, if not Papuan generation will lose their identity,” he said.

Kosapa, he continued, dreams for the born of more Papuan authors because there are still many historical stories and issues in the past that have not yet revealed. It is an opportunity for Papuans to tell their own stories rather than the outsiders.

Meanwhile, Alfrida Yomanop, author of the book “Lembahayung Senja” said the role of Kosapa in promoting the local wisdom and Papuan literature as well as to promote literacy in Papua is very important.

“I appreciate my friends in Kosapa who continue to support the literature development in Papua through various activities. They have encouraged the younger generation of Papua to be able to write the native stories from their respective areas,” she said. (*)

 

Reporter: Hengky Yeimo

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Papua Printing Company to support young Papuan writers

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Komunitas Sastra Papua (Papuan Literature Community) when launching a discussion on literacy education in Jayapura. – Jubi/Hengky Yeimo

Jayapura, Jubi- Komunitas Sastra Papua (Papuan Literature Community) asked the Papua Provincial Government to reactive the regional company ‘Percetakan Rakyat Papua’ (Papua Regional Printing Company) to response the current demand of publication since many young Papuans are now becoming a writer.

However, the main constraint is in printing,” said the secretary of Komunitas Sastra Papua (Kosapa) Aleks Giyai on Thursday (31/5/2018).

Percetakan Rakyat Papua is considered bringing opportunities for Papuans to get the lower-cost printing. “To print some printed items such as books, magazines, calendars and so on, we have to make an order in Java. Even though the printing cost is quite cheaper, the shipping cost is expensive,” explained Giyai.

Meanwhile, cultural activist Andy Tagihuma thought books play a crucial role in developing a character of a nation. “The gradual progress of literacy development in Papua is a result of the inconsistent book publishing,” said Tagihuma.

He further said Papua should be able to produce and publish books and other writings locally like what has been done by the University of Cenderawasih in the past, which printed most of their writings such as Warta Uncen and other scientific journals independently. “But now they mostly send it to Java for printing,” he said. (*)

Reporter: Hengky Yeimo

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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