Bringing together

Photo essay – This essay is about the Moluccan community maintaining their culture in the Diaspora: The familiar that is yet unknown. These prayers with its strict protocol illustrate how interwoven politics is with Dutch Ambonese Christianity. Furthermore, the photo essay is questioning the search for traditional cultural costums. The individual western lifestyle for many, also gives the opportunity to look for a new sense of belonging. The main question hereby: How can we transform these costums into a reinvented cultural practice? The use of the tifa* (drum) and the tahuri* (shell) are one of those traditional cultural aspects that are incorporated in this new social context.

The essay in chronological order: The hoisting of the national flag on April 25 is an important event for many people in the Dutch Moluccan community. Capturing this moment in one of the Moluccan neighborhoods* in the Netherlands. Many commemorate and celebrate the proclamation of the Republic of South Maluku on 25 April 1950. In the Netherlands, there is still a Moluccan government in exile. To many people, who are part of this ethnic community, these aspects are important.

The protocol to hoist the flag starts the evening before. A couple of residents are bringing the flag on a scale into the church during a memorial service, kebaktian Tanah Air. The next morning traditional tifa sounds are giving a sign in the Moluccan neighborhood to attend the prayer service. After this service, the residents hoist the flag and recite the proclamation of Independence. A day of remembrance and celebrations begins. [April 2013]

* Moluccan neighborhood Alphen aan den Rijn / the ‘tifa’ is a drum used during songs, storytelling and community activities. The ‘tahuri’ is a shell that is used to call the spirits in the socio-cosmic world, in this new context it is used to call the great spirit (God).

Side note: The majority shares these political views, but this event is not representative for every Moluccan neighborhood. The variety of activities within the Moluccan community for this day is fragmented. It’s also a collective thought of a particular political opinion that not everyone shares in Moluccan community.