Monday, October 15, 2012

Fatherland: Soil and Water

Fatherland: Soil and water

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Paper Edition | Page: 6

During the heyday of the revolution for the nation’s independence in the early 20th century, soil or land dominated the subject of intellectual debates. Water, which surrounded the islands in the archipelago, earned fewer spotlights.

True, the Indonesian anthem composed by respected Ahmadiyah follower, Wage Rudolf Supratman, contains the combination of two words “tanah air/soil and water”.

However, not only the anthem puts soil in the first place, it also emphasizes the role of land rather than water, such as in the phrase “tanah tumpah darahku/the soil in which my blood is shed.” In short, water, which covers most of the nation’s territory, has long received less attention.

Likewise, in pumping the spirit of the freedom fighters in the guerrilla wars against the two times Dutch aggressions, our national leaders, such as Gen. Soedirman and Soetomo, also pointed out land, or soil, symbolizing the fatherland, such as in the sentence “sejengkal tanah tak rela kuberikan pada penjajah / a mere inch of soil I will never let the colonial aggressor take.”

From elementary school, history teachers told us that the syncretic Hindu-Budhist Majapahit kingdom in East Java with its mighty army under the leadership of prime minister Gajah Mada conquered many other kingdoms in islands far away from Java. It is not hard to imagine that without an adept naval force it would have been impossible for Majapahit to fulfill the phenomenal palapa oath, by which was the vision to unite the hundreds of islands in the archipelago. However, most of us miss the ocean adventure of Gajah Mada’s legendary conquest.

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