Monday, August 17, 2009

freedom day

Today is Independence Day, or Freedom Day. Merdeka! Merdeka! Freedom. It celebrates the day that that Indonesian's told the Dutch to naff off. However, it took four years of intermittent negotiations, recurring hostilities, and UN mediation before the Netherlands agreed to relinquish its colony on 27 December, 1949. The nation swathes itself in red and white, and every house erects a makeshift flagpole to hoist the flag. Red for bravery, white for purity.

Our village celebrations center around the oval in front of the church. We arrive as the flag is being raised - the most solemn part of the ceremony, honouring those who fought for Independence. The crowd is silent, most unusual for the rowdy bunch. The school kids are resplendent in their starched uniforms, woven ikat vests and polished shoes. A gaudy lounge has been poached from someone's front room for the officials to sit on, and a the biggest speaker system this side of the Wallace Line blasts out the formalities. The bonus for us is a day of electricity. Viva la Indonesia.

We the people of Indonesia hereby declare the independence of Indonesia. Matters which concern the transfer of power and other things will be executed by careful means and in the shortest possible time.
17 August 1945. In the name of the people of Indonesia. Soekarno-Hatta.

I particularly like the mention of "other things". Talk about keeping your options open.

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thanks for taking the time

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