Interview with Lambert Ndiken, a Badelik man in Kampung Baad (Wilmar)

Kampung Baad, Animha district, lies on the banks of the Kumbe River. It is possible to get there by car and motorbike, passing through seven kilometres of natural forest from the Wapeko – Zanegi road. This is still an earth road which turns into mud in the rainy season, slippery and difficult to pass.

According to how the Marind people divide their territory, the people of Kampung Baad are from the central area, called lahuk anim. 336 people were recorded as living there in the 2010 census. When Van Baal (1966) conducted his own census around the Kumbe plains in 1937, he recorded that at that time there were 106 inhabitants of Kampung Baad. This figure shows that the increase in inhabitants over the last seventy years has been reasonably low.

Lambert Ndiken(53), a figure of the community in Baad, explained the origins and migrations of the people that now live in Kampung Baad. Previously their ancestors had lived in groups and settlements near the sago groves and rivers between the Kumbe and Maro rivers, before settling down in Kampung Baad, on the land of the Baad people.

One of the groups that came to live in Kampung Baad were the Badelik people. Their ancestors used to live near a place called Yakau, not far from Kampung Wayau and Kampung Senayu, by the Maro river. Their ancestral land stretches along a strip of land between the Maro and Au rivers, bordering on the land of Kampung Wayau. A large sago grove belonging to the Badelik people lies on that land.

There are only a very few people of Badelik descent living in Kampung Baad. In fact there are only two families, those of Lambert Ndiken and Thomas Ndiken. Lambert and Thomas were both born and grew up in Kampung Baad. Their parents also have no wish to return to their original village in Senayu, because they are used to living together with the people of Kampung Baad. Lambert is married to a woman from Baad and Thomas is married to a woman from KampungYanggandur, Sota district. Lambert explained that they still have family in Kampung Senayu, but Kampung Yakau has reverted to forest. At the time of the 1937 census, there were 25 people living in Kampung Yakau.

It is not a problem that Badelik people live in Kampung Baad because they are already integrated with the people of Baad. They have the identical customary law, both being in the Sosom group. Lambert is also an official in the village administration. It is only when it comes to land ownership, control and use, that each group’s authority over their respective land differs.

Sago is the King

Sago is the people of Kampung Baad’s staple food. Sago is also used in rituals, customary law, customary councils and marriages. The Marind people are well-known for sago sep, a delicious local food made from sago. Roast sago is mixed with meat and fish, treated with spices and coconut and then baked in hot stones. Sago trees can also be used for making canoes (although these are rarely seen nowadays) and as a building material.

“Sago really supports our life as Marind People”, said Lambert Ndiken, who believes that sago is the king, and must be respected and taken care of. Sago groves should not be sold, if someone wants some sago, they can ask the owner. If someone wants to give some money in exchange for the sago, the money can be taken, but sago does not need to be paid for. Similar stores can be heard elsewhere in Papua, for example in Sorong where local people explain tha Sago is a godess, who provides protection and security.

At present, sago groves, grasslands, swamps and forest, as well as sacred sites around Kampung Baad, are threatened by a sugar company: PT Anugerah Rejeki Nusantara, a subsidiary of Wilmar International. ARN is in the process of approaching villagers and trying to negotiate the right to cultivate their land. They even flew several representatives of four villages near the project site in Animha District to see sugar cane and oil palm plantations in Lampung and North Sumatra provinces. Lambert was one of those invited on this trip to make comparisons with experience in other places.

Nevertheless, Lambert and the people of Baad are still in agreement that they want to reject the ARN company’s plans to manage its traditional lands. The people of Baad fear that they will lose out and their connection with the forest and natural environment will be restricted as a result of the company’s activities. They are also worried that they will lose their livelihood and divisions will emerge between the people.

“We’ve already visited Kampung Zanegi and seen the people’s experience there since the company first arrived to present their plans, telling the people that the changes would bring development. But the company has already destroyed all their forest, while the people have lost so much and seen no improvement in their condition”, Lambert related, telling of Kampung Zanegi, whose land has been taken over by an industrial forestry company [in this case Medco].

Promises of work, house-building, roads and so on, have no effect on Lambert’s family’s decision, to refuse the company’s plans. This decision is based on their experience and the awareness of how the company’s operations would affect Marind people’s livelihoods and their environment, including the people’s dependency on nature. “I was raised by nature, so if nature is destroyed, what safeguards will my grandchildren have?”, said Lambert.

Source: Pusaka

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