Our Independence Day

It has been a tradition to every one in our kampoong to do something special to welcome the Independence Day. Pak RT, the kampoong chief, hold a meeting with the residents to discuss what agenda to be taken. It is almost to be certain that we start it by setting up a committee, called as ‘Panitia Tujuh Belasan’ or ‘Panitia Pitulasan’. Tujuh Belas in Indonesian or Pitulasan in Javanese means the seventeenth of August, when we commemorate the Independence Day. This committee organizes all the events such as the mass social works to clean and dress up the environment, festive competitions and gathering for praying at the Independence Eve. There are many ways to celebrate our Independence Day, of course.

The committee usually organizes festive competition of some sports like volleyball, table tennis, and chess game for fathers and mothers. Some funny games or competitions are for children of the surroundings. We clean and dress up the environment with red-and-white flags and colorful banners to make splendid atmosphere. We do all the things to celebrate our independence to recall the great moment in history about 64 years ago when we get freedom from the colonists.

Hundreds of years our nation had been suffering from the wildest life of the colonialism era, and these miseries invited local and sporadic attacks against the colonist. Uncounted lost of possessions and souls were sacrificed with no result, until the nation came to the national awakening for which we recall it as Hari Kebangkitan Nasional on every May 20. Since the day all efforts to get rid of the colonialism were not on district basis, but on national basis. It was the change of the paradigm in the efforts and struggles to get freedom.

It was on the August 17, 1945 when Mr. Soekarno and Mr. Moh.Hatta, for and on behalf of the nation, proclaimed the Indonesia’s Independence to the world. Since then, we have been an independent nation after so long-sufferings from colonialism. History has recorded that this independence was not granted, but it was fought over with terrible pains, efforts and struggles. It was engraved with tears and paints, bodies and souls.

In commemoration to the Independence Day, we arrange festive events to express our thanks and joy for the freedom. In other side, it is to pray for the heroes passed away in the battles for the independence. Festivals are usually held a few days before or after the August 17. On the Independence Eve, we all gather in a wide-open space with foods offerings. After a written speech from the local regent or major usually read by the village chief, and one from the kampoong chief, an ulama prays for the predecessor heroes. In the same time, he appeals His blessing for the strength and tough to continue the on going development of the country.

A few days, usually until a week later, some festive events are still going on in some villages. Funny games such as panjat pinang (palm tree climbing) are popular among the village residents. In this game, participants will have to climb a palm tree to take some gifts on the top of the tree. It is not an easy game to do as the tree greased with fat before and is becoming slick when the contestants climbing it. Music shows are often presented to end the subsequent events arranged during the commemoration period. This is the way of how to express our thanksgivings to God for the freedom moment.

Now, after 64 years of the Independence Day, we are not holding guns and fire the enemies. We do not have to go to the battlefields confronting the colonists. What we have to do is to develop the country to pursue justice and welfare for all people. This is not an easy task to do of course, and is not only in the hands of the government officials but on ours, all the elements of the nation. It is the task of the nation to get rid of the backwardness.

There are some barriers that we have to overcome. Those might be coming for the outside such as global economic crisis and the fluctuation of the world oil prices. The hard works are how to create a breakthrough to be sustainable to these attacks. From the inside, the low economic growth, the increase of jobless, corruption and illiteracy are waiting tasks of the nation to be overcome. In addition, the country is still prone to any security disturbance and separatism that may hamper foreign investors to come.

We have been 64 years free from the chain of colonialism, but we are facing the new manifestation of it that curbs us from being the developed country. Could we now get rid of all these disadvantages? We may have been left some decades behind those developed countries, but there is only one answer from this nation: YES!

Mojokerto, August 2009

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