Indonesians in Focus


The warrior Bima circles his enemy. With a resounding bang of the gamelan, the fighter of ancient Javanese folklore spreads his arms and deals a final blow, vanquishing his opponent to death. On the spread of white cloth, the shadow of only one figure remains. The intensity of this shadow […]

Indonesians in Focus: Ki Purbo Asmoro


While Raden Ajeng Kartini is known as a heroine of women’s emancipation, other national heroines were freedom fighters, such as Cut Nyak Dien of Aceh. In Maluku, a brave young woman took up arms along with her male peers against colonizers of the Dutch era. She was Martha Christina Tiahahu. […]

Indonesians in Focus: Martha Christina Tiahahu


City lights picked me up/and we tried to forget all the things/that had shredded the solitude back in that room//we may never understand/why old calendars/could change history/as easily and quickly as a highway rush How do you feel after reading the lines above? How would you feel if you were […]

Dina Oktaviani: The Lost Biography



In Bandung, West Java, Dewi Sartika is better known as a jumbled road of traffic jams, sidewalk vendors and shopping centers. At a point halfway down the road to the south of the town square lies the squalid public minivan terminal of Kebon Kalapa, with its dirty puddles and bad […]

Tracing Dewi Sartika’s Struggle: Bandung, West Java


People usually look down on buskers or roadside performers, assuming they are too lazy to work and are content earning a few pennies on the street. But not Didik Nini Thowok, who believes busking can actually serve as a way to preserve cultural traditions and even attract tourists. Born in […]

Indonesians in Focus: Didik Nini Thowok


These days, women can take on roles that were once thought to be the domain of men — be it as the country’s president, a political head, a minister or the leader of a musical group. But in the art of shadow puppetry, women still usually only feature only as […]

Indonesians in Focus: Sofiah Peni Carito



A self-confident young woman strolls along in Lengkasa village deep in the forest in Tojo Una-Una regency, Central Sulawesi. Her age is 24. She voluntarily runs a traditional community school. The Lipu village school was set up by local people and the Red and White Palu Foundation to serve the […]

Indonesians in Focus: Indo Deleng


It took Demianus Bagali months of walking in the wild forests on Halmahera Island, North Maluku province, to discover White Land Hill, home to the most beautiful birds in the land of spices. Anu, as he is commonly known, recalled days spent cutting down trees and waist-high jungle grass to […]

Indonesians in Focus: Demianus Bagali


Tam Chen Siong, 36, an Indonesian of Chinese descent who is also known as Kanjeng Raden Tumenggung Hartonodiningrat, has enjoyed success in his efforts to preserve one of the country’s most treasured forms of cultural art. Tam’s father, Tam Hwa Seng, a businessman from Surabaya, and mother Phun Djoei Hing, […]

Indonesians in Focus: Tam Chen Siong



To ensure the survival of their art, theatrical actors and actresses in Indonesia need to explore their creativity. As did Iin Mutmainah, 31, a theatrical actress from Lampung, who since 2002 has performed as story-teller. Initially, Iin took up story-telling to earn some extra cash so she could continue her […]

Indonesians in Focus: Iin Mutmainah