Seventy years ago today, Sukarno and Mohmmad Hatta were frog-marched to a radio station by students hungry for independence. There, they declared the formation of the republic of Indonesia. Both the text and its original presentation in Sukarno’s handwriting (pictured above, rescued from the waste-paper basket) tell us much about the country.
Sixty-nine years ago today, Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta blurted out the two sentences that gave Indonesia its independence (and my book its title): ‘We, the people of Indonesia, hereby declare the independence of Indonesia. Matters relating to the transfer of power etc. will be executed carefully and as soon as possible.’ I had cause to think about that during a visit to Scotland this week, just a month before all residents of Scotland over the age of 16 get to…
I was first invited to take tea with a corpse in Sumba, in southeastern Indonesia, some 23 years ago. It was also in 1991 that I first attended a pasola, a wonderful jousting match which aims to secure a good harvest by spilling human blood. During that visit to Sumba, my friend Enny and I both photographed a boy wearing primary school uniform shorts and the head-dress of a jouster. He was too young to go riding out, but his “don’t mess with me” look advertised his intention to become a warrior to be feared….