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Australian student honors Kartini with a song

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, April 21, 2017 | 05:31 pm
Australian student honors Kartini with a song

Sally Andrews during her visit to the Ijen crater in Banyuwangi, East Java. The Australian student wrote 'Teladan Kartini' to honor the icon of female emancipation in Indonesia. (

Celebrating the birth date of Indonesian heroine Kartini, which falls every April 21, a law student from Australia, Sally Andrews, has created a song dedicated to the icon of women’s emancipation titled "Teladan Kartini" (The Example of Kartini).

Andrews, who did a year of exchange studies at the Indonesia Islamic University (UII) in Yogyakarta in 2016, said she heard about Kartini’s story from a friend. “Once I started reading her letters, I knew that she had been an extraordinary individual and that her story would make for a great song,” she told The Jakarta Post via e-mail.

“I wanted to use the song to honor her contribution as a female activist,” Andrews said. “I admire her resilience and commitment – even when her father prevented her from continuing her formal education during the ‘pingit’ [when she was kept inside a house until she was married] and even when she was entered into an arranged marriage, she continued to teach herself and sought out opportunities to pursue her education and engage in discussions surrounding education policy, gender, colonization and the condition of the Javanese people.”

The lyrics from "Teladan Kartini" are a short biography of the heroine and also encourage people to remember her legacy. Andrews said the song, which she sings in Bahasa Indonesia, challenged her to improve her Indonesian writing skills and pronunciation. The melody for the song was taken from "Trouble" by rapper Iggy Azalea and singer Jennifer Hudson.

Read also: Kartini, beyond her famous letters

“The new lyrics [of Teladan Kartini] bear no resemblance to the original lyrics [of Trouble], and the rapping was faster,” she said, adding that it had taken her 14 hours to come up with the title.

“Kartini accomplished so much and died so young that I wanted a short, upbeat song that captured the way she was such a bright spark in the long history of Dutch occupation of the archipelago,” Andrews said in explanation of why she chose "Trouble" as the musical basis of her song. “[…] I didn’t want to dwell on the sadness of her wasted potential, but rather to celebrate her life and her legacy.”

Andrews, who is currently studying in Australia, has also previously created a song dedicated to Indonesia’s founding father Sukarno. The song’s video on YouTube has been viewed over 80,000 times since it was released in 2014. The. “Originally I wrote it as an entry for the National Australia-Indonesia Language Awards,” she said. “And it ended up winning the Wild Card category.”

Andrews plans to create more songs in the future. “I like the idea of releasing a video on Independence Day or perhaps on Hari Pahlawan [Heroes’ Day in Indonesia],” she said. “I’m thinking about celebrating someone who’s not from Java […] perhaps Cut Nyak Dhien or maybe Pattimura, both of whom would make an excellent subject of a power rock ballad.” (kes)