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Dirgahayu, Indonesiaku! : 69 Years Since the Birth of Our Beloved Republic of Indonesia

Dirgahayu, Indonesiaku! : 69 Years Since the Birth of Our Beloved Republic of Indonesia

If you happen to be on the island or in any part of Indonesia at the moment, you must have noticed that there is red and white literally everywhere! Flags are festively decorating buildings and streets, especially on the main roads, people even have flags attached to their bike mirror and car radio anthennas, and in some cities you can even see community celebrations through the fun competitions they hold in each neighborhood. Yes, it is celebration of 17th of August which is Indonesia's Independence Day! And from that few word answer which stands for the main concept of what today is about, we would like to take the opportunity to share a little bit more about how we have come to today's Indonesia.


17th of August 1945 was the day that marked the end of all colonization and occupation on the land of Indonesia which covers the entire archipelago stretched from Sabang to Merauke. It was the day the Indonesian indigenous people could finally call their homeland, their ancestor’s land, as their very own. It was a brand new start; one with hope, chances and countless possibilities; one where they finally gained their human rights to pursue a good life as a citizen of a country where Indonesians were no longer second class citizens with barely any rights.


The Independence of Indonesia, the archipelago often referred to as Nusantara, was officially gained marked by the proclamation by our founding father, Ir. Soekarno who was also the first president of the Republic of Indonesia (1945 – 1967). The proclamation of Indonesia’s independence effectively ended the occupation by the Japanese which took place from 1942 after World War II which was preceded by centuries long of colonial era.


Before the Japanese occupation, Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch, who named most of the region of today’s modern Indonesia which back then consisted of numerous kingdoms as the East Indies. The Dutch colonization started in the 1602 and went on for almost three and a half centuries more, and knowing the idea of colonization and occupation, it did put the people of the kingdoms in the “East Indies” in a living situation which was as far as it could be from the idea of pleasant.


 Through that extremely long period of time, undoubtedly huge battles took place and as any other recorded history of the wars between indigenous people fighting colonialism, the amount of blood spilled and lives sacrificed is enormous and countless. It was catastrophic. This independence we are celebrating nowadays was not gained without paying a price and therefore it is only normal that up until today, the elder people who happen to still be around often mention about the struggle that finally got us here, in the spirit of being grateful but also to remind the younger generation to be conscious and aware, and fill this freedom and independence with greatness, just like what our forefathers fought and died for.


On May 20, 1908 the very first national socio-cultural organization was founded under the name of  Budi Utomo, of which the members were the educated people who were based in Java. Even though this organization only involved the elite class in Java, it had a very important role as the inspiration to the birth of all other national organizations that lead to the movement towards the independence of Indonesia. This day was marked as the birth of national awakening of the country. It was a realization that in order to reach independence, all islands, tribes, kingdoms and former kingdoms from all over the country had to be united as one.


That baby step became the very foundation of the Indonesian struggle which went on for another 37 years until it finally came to Indonesia’s day of independence. Those years preceding the proclamation were filled with the founding and indescribable hard work of long list of national social, economical, religion-based and educational organizations, numerous significant historical moments both in politics as well as in the battle field fought by the army, as well as those that did not leave a choice but to have the civilians involve themselves to protect their family, people, home and land of ancestors.


The first few years after Indonesia declared its independence, the country was not politically stable yet. Even though the country had declared its existence both de facto and de jure, and had gained the world’s recognition for it, the Dutch did not stop there and involved their allies in their effort to regain “East Indies” as their colony. More battles, conventions, international agreements, political change in terms of the nation’s form and territory went down until a few years after the birth of Negara Republik Indonesia and a few history book chapter’s later, Indonesia was no longer fighting against colonization, or the Japanese. Indonesia became a baby country busy taking care of its internal issues as a newborn nation, building and developing, maintaining and adjusting, working things out, celebrating the freedom of the new national household.


Sixty nine years have gone by very fast and this is today’s modern Indonesia; a large archipelago country blessed by the nature’s charm and beauty;  a country consisting of so many different distinct unique tribes with each their own culture, language, heritage and richness; a land with so much potential and natural resources (not necessarily saying that it is managed in a manner that its people get to enjoy the welfare supposedly brought by the rich resources though), a country with lots of homework and growing up to do, one that is hopeful that through the years things are only getting better as the democracy and people reach their maturity and awareness of what should be improved and how to execute it in order to move forward, and make this all worth.


Sixty nine years since the birth of the Republic of Indonesia and here we are. They say it is about progress and not perfection. Well, I guess this counts for our beloved country too. The battles we have to face these days are far different from the ones our forefathers had to face. However, knowing the history that we come from a long line of people who were courageous, determined, brave, unstoppable, honorable warriors, it is only right if we put our heart and soul trying to make this country grow into its best version by starting off being the best version of human we can be, and be an awesome conscious human who is part of this country’s population as well as part of the world’s humanity.


Now, if you are interested to know more about the Indonesian national history, which includes Bali circa pre-independence of Bali circa colonial era, you can visit a number of museums which somehow haven’t been very much promoted and/or popular among international tourists or expatriates. The exhibits of these museums focus on the parts of history which specifically happened on the island. It tells about the Balinese kingdom during the colonial era, the struggles, the Margarana battle and much more. For example, did you know that the famous name of Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport and bypass is the name of one of the island’s most influential hero who fought for Bali as part as Indonesia? You didn’t? Well, it is alright, but going to the museum can really be the kind of fun you’re into for the day!


So, if you are on the island for a long stay or even a short one but you still find this subject something you want to block your calendar for, we really recommend you to go a little ‘nerdy’ for just one day (or even a half) and try paying one of these museums a visit!


1.       Bajra Sandhi (Renon, Denpasar)

2.       Kertha Gosa (downtown in Semarapura, Klungkung)

3.       Museum Bali (Puputan Badung, The Denpasar Heritage Site Area, Denpasar )

4.       Taman Puja Bangsa Margarana (Marga, Tabanan)


These museums are located in very charming settings all over the island and have an exhibit that can provide a better understanding about this island’s history from an angle you might haven’t seen before. Most of these museums offer the services of a tour guide for a certain rate which is informed upon arrival. However the exhibits are displayed with information cards in Bahasa Indonesia as well as English, making the tour guide optional based on your preference.


So, consider this as a little intro to Indonesia’s national history! And in the spirit of participating in Indonesia’s festive month of August, let’s go to the national museums! Dirgahayu, Indonesiaku! Merdeka!!!

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February, 2018
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