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    29 May 2011

    Reciting Max Havelaar

    One teacher at remote area found an effective way to give lesson about kindness and integrity. It is by reciting the Max Havelaar.
    • Hervin Saputra / Angga Haksoro
    • 26 Mei 2011 - 16:59 WIB
    • Sumber: http://www.vhrmedia.com/2010/detail.php?.e=2753

    The anomaly began before the dawn on 10 November 2009. It was when Ubaidilah departed from his home in Sawangan, Depok. He brought dozens of books on his motorcycle to Ciseel.
    Ciseel is situated behind a hill, in the area of Lebak District, Banten. It is 50 km away from Rangkas Bitung, the main sub-district of Lebak.
    It needs good preparation to go to Ciseel. We must take about one and a half hour driving from Jakarta to Rangkasbitung. If we use public transportation, we must stop at Rangkasbitung, about 100 km from at the western of Jakarta, to take angkot (multi-purpose vehicle that is used for public transportation) and pay Rp 15,000. Angkot stops at the only market at Ciminyak, the nearest village from Ciseel. We must continue travelling for another one hour by motorcycle taxi, and it costs Rp 50,000.
    The journey is a cliffhanger, but it also shows very beautiful views of nature and fresh air. There is an abyss on the left of the road. It was very dangerous because when at that time, the road was wet and slippery.
    I talked to the motorcycle driver to overcome my fear. His name is Tony. This 30 year-old man lives at Pasir Nangka, a village that is located not very far from Ciminyak.
    Ciseel is situated at the bottom of the valley. It is hard to find signal for cellular phone. The village has not obtained electricity yet. There are only two sets of television at the village. One set belongs to the head of neighborhood, and another one belongs to a resident who arrived one year ago after he worked in Malaysia.
    Ubaidilah has been appointed to teach at Junior High School No. 3 at Satap Sotang, Lebak. The school is located eight kilometer away from Ciseel. He had refused the assignment. But one of his friends warned him not to reject this opportunity, as well as his call as a university graduate whose was majoring Indonesian Language and Literature.
    “I had rejected this assignment because the school is located in a remote area. I was 28 year-old at that time, and newlywed,” Ubaidilah told me.
    Pak Ubai, that is how people call him now, arrived at Ciseel in April 2009. At two first months Ubai lived at the school building because the Education Agency that assigned him to teach at this village had not provided a home for him. The head of neighborhood at Ciseel, Syarif Hidayat, asked Ubai to live at his house. In the future, Ubai keeps his books at this house and pay Rp 300,000 every month to Syarif for rental cost.
    Ubai brought 20 volumes ofMax Havelaar on 22 March 2010. This book was written by Multatuli and its newest Indonesian edition was by Narasi.
    “I bought those books at Ultimus, one bookstore in Bandung. The price of each volume was Rp 70,000. Totally I spend Rp 1.4 million for those books,” Ubai explained.
    This was the beginning for Ubai to deal with the absence of electricity, cellular phone, and television. Instead of being lonely and sorrowful, Ubai decided to use this situation to encourage children at Ciseel to actively read the Max Havelaar.
    Max Havelaar was the first historic novel that revealed the bad impacts, caused by Western colonialism in the East-Indies. The book tells about involuntary plantation in East-Indies (now Indonesia) to fill Dutch’s national treasury that was almost run out after the fight against Diponegoro, a Javanese prince.
    Local people were forced to plant coffee, the most wanted commodity in Europe. They were not allowed to consume the beans that they had planted. “Some of them drank the coffee’s leaves desperately,” Ubai explained.
    In this book, Max Havelaar is described as the regent assistant of Lebak, Banten. Multatuli is believed as the pseudo-name of Eduard Douwer Dekker.
    Dekker arrived on Java Island in 1838 when he was 18. He was assigned to be the regent assistant in Ambon. Dekker had moved to Manado before he finally was assigned to be the regent assistant in Lebak in 1857. He only lived for less than one year in Lebak. But this short period had made him famous in the world of literature until today.
    Dekker wrote his observation about Dutch colonialism and local monarchy feudalism that were used to oppress the local people in Lebak. The district was led by Raden Toemenggoeng Kartanata Nagara, or known as Regen Sepoeh. He led the district arbitrary, and often robed his people’s properties.
    Saidjah and Adinda lived during this oppressive era. The two lovers lived at Badur, a village that is located near Ciseel. Saidjah had a buffalo that helped him to work on his family’s plantation. But it was seized by Demang Parangkujang, the son in law of Regen Sepoeh. Saidjah’s father must sell his sacred kris to buy a new buffalo. He could not work on his plantation field without the cow. If it happened, he could not afford the tax that must be paid to the regent.
    Saidjah then departed to Batavia and Lampung. During his absence, Havelaar persuaded Adinda to testify about the cruelty that had been conducted by Regen Sepoeh. Havelaar planned to send reports on the Regent’s crime to the General Governor of the Dutch-Indies.
    This love story ended tragically. Saidjah and Adinda were shot dead by Lebak’s police. Max Havelaar lost the battle as well. The General Governor neglected his report, and he was moved to Ngawi, East Java.
    Sigit Susanto is the writer of Following the World’s Alley. He sees that Max Havelaar can be compared to a diary that was written by Anne Frank, a girl who wrote her testimony on Nazi oppression during the World War II.
    Eduard Douwes Dekker went back to Europe in 1858 and lived in Brussel, Belgia. In this city, he continued his story as Multatuli on the next book, titledMax Havelaar, of de koffieveilingen der Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij, or Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company.
    Dekker finished writing the Max Havelaar in October 1859. Unfortunately, this book could not be published because it was seen to defame the Dutch-Indies colonialism. Sigit Susanto quoted a comment of Dutch’s author Pico Bulthuis on his paper about Max Havelaar. Bulthuis wrote on Haagse Post daily on 8 January 1855:
    “Max Havelaar had spread agitation in this country. There had been no author wrote about the bad side of Dutch-Indies colonialism very sharply and clearly. The book contained of very sentimental and interesting story.”
    Max Havelaar was published in May 1860, and it was sold at a very high price. The intention was to draw a line of people who were able to buy the book and read the story.
    Indeed, Max Havelaar is not a popular fiction. It is difficult to understand the story. But the “unusual thing” has encouraged Ubai to create the anomaly,as the figure of Havelaar who was seen of the anomaly of his country.
    Syarif, the head of neighborhood at Ciseel, told me that children at the village did not know how to spend their leisure time before Ubai had come to the village.
    Ubai chose Max Havelaar because the book tells about culture that has been rooted at the village. He has guided his students to recite the Max Havelaar every afternoon at the house.
    At first, Ubai gave magazines and comics to the children. He managed to stimulate those children to read Max Havelaar, a book with hundreds of pages.
    “It was by design. I directed them to read Max Havelaar. I used the first three months only to introduce the characters of the novel,” Ubai explained.
    Ubai wrote down the name of Saidjah, Adinda, Regen Sepoeh, Max Havelaaar, and other characters on a little board, completed by detailed information about the character.
    17 members of this recital group opened the first page of Max Havelaar on 23 March 2010. Those children had been guided to comprehend every detailed occurrence that is written on the book.
    Ubai recited the book, while his “students” listened to the story and followed it by reading the book that already had been on their hands. Those children took their turn to recite the book, the same way that they use to recite the Quran. They only read 4 pages of the book at every meeting.
    Ubai has worn costumes every time he recited the Max Havelaar, in order to bring his students into the story of the book. He must use this attractive method because it is not easy to understand the story. This method has been proved as the effective way to attract the children. His students got the feeling and connected to the novel.
    “The children had started enjoying the book after they came to the fifth chapter, because the chapter tells story that is closely related to their life,” Ubai told me.
    The students were suggested to write their comments of the book when they finished reading it. One of students, Pipit Suyati wrote: “Max Havelaar was a good person. He would do anything to help other people at all costs.”
    Another review came from Sanadi: “I am proud of Makapelar (Max Havelaar), and I hate Dutch, except him.”
    This first group had finished reciting the Max Havelaar. Ubai celebrated this achievement by preparing meals for his students and making a little party.
    “I am lucky, because people have not watch television here,” Ubai explained. This young man has made another plan for the children: introducing internet to them. (to be continued).
    Photo: VHRmedia/ Hervin Saputra
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    Item Reviewed: Reciting Max Havelaar Rating: 5 Reviewed By: mh ubaidilah
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