The Jakarta Post
On March 28, 1830, Prince Diponegoro was invited to stay in the House of the Kedu Residency, the official Dutch headquarters, in Magelang, Central Java. He had a cordial meeting with his host, Gen. Hendrik Merkus De Kock, which lasted for several hours. However, at the conclusion of the meeting, as Diponegoro was preparing to return home to Tegalrejo, he was unexpectedly prevented from leaving.
In the historical accounts of the meeting that took place in the House that day, there was no mention of any discussions about politics and war. As indicated in De Kock's invitation, Diponegoro was ready to go to the House for a courtesy visit in the way most Muslims did after the fasting month.
'It's the month of Syawal [the month after Ramadhan). It won't be mistaken as a sign of obedience for me to make a courtesy call and at the same time accept the invitation of General De Kock,' said the prince, as narrated by senior actor Landung Simatupang.
The meeting lasted for hours. As Diponegoro was about to depart, De Kock stopped him. He said the war between both sides (Diponegoro's and the Dutch troops) had to be stopped that day. The prince was also forced to take responsibility for reparations for the war in Batavia and obliged to apologize to Governor Gen. van den Bosch.
Diponegoro was astonished by the sly actions of De Kock. 'So it appears the reason that you've invited me here was to arrest me. The fasting month has just concluded and there should be no agenda to deal with politics at this meeting. We'd better set the agenda for some other day,' he said. The Dutch general answered by saying 'I insist for the second time, all matters must be settled today.'
The fragments of the discussions between Diponegoro and De Kock were elegantly narrated by Landung in the Hall of the former Kedu Residency in Magelang, Central Java, on the evening of Nov. 24. The building was the place where Diponegoro was trapped and later arrested by the Dutch.
This show was part of a series of the dramatic narrations and depictions of Diponegoro's tribulations during his stay at the Dutch headquarters, which is scheduled to be held at three other locations, namely the Sasana Wiratama Museum, Tegalrejo, Yogyakarta (Jan. 4, 2014), Fatahilah Museum, Jakarta (May 10, 2014), and Fort Rotterdam, Makassar, South Sulawesi (June 17, 2014).
The programs are organized in cooperation with Bentara Budaya Yogyakarta, Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation, Arsari Djojohadikusumo Foundation and Jakarta publisher Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia (KPG).
Apart from the narration, Landung also featured several other incidents to depict the prevailing mood during the meeting by means of multimedia broadcasting, Javanese poetry recital, the musical accompaniment of gamelan and traditional lesung (hollowed out log) sounds, as well as performances of several actors from Gadjah Mada Theater.
The narration of Diponegoro's capture is based on the Chronicle of Diponegoro written by Diponegoro while banished to Manado (1831-1832), and the book of British historian Peter Carey, The Power of Prophecy: Prince Dipanagara and the End of an Old Order in Java, 1785-1885 (2011), which is translated by Parakitri T. Simbolon).
Landung began his text reading with a summary of the infiltration by De Kock's agents into Diponegoro's troops. The prince, recounted Landung, valiantly commanded the Javanese troops against the Dutch colonizers, until finally De Kock lost his patience and ordered the arrest of Diponegoro.
But Landung did not hastily relate the incident of detention. With his masterful narration, he described the close ties between Diponegoro and De Kock. The two figures were not merely portrayed as military leaders but also had their human sides exposed. Among other things, De Kock showed his hospitality by granting a horse to the prince as a token of friendship.
In his narration, Landung did not merely recite the text, but rather he recomposed it into a dramatic account, while also presenting varying intonations, accents and shades of voice. Using his heavy and clear tone as he was telling the story, he changed his accents when it came to dialogues between Diponegoro and De Kock.
As an actor, Landung is competent even at the age of 58. Besides the changing tones of voice, his dramatic expressions also made the text flow without monotony. Virtually every sentence he read offered room for imagination.
The circumstances of their conversation, the intrigue and trickery on the part of De Kock, and later the thrilling arrest of Diponegoro occurring over 200 years ago were seemingly reenacted before the audience.
Landung also managed to provide a picture of De Kock and Diponegoro as fellow humans. 'They met several times for leisurely chats. They were drinking tea together in Magelang without talking about politics,' said Landung in a flat tone.
However, Landung's voice was trembling as he recounted the moments leading to the arrest of Diponegoro by De Kock's soldiers in the study. He was apparently reliving what had been experienced by Diponegoro, who was enraged and disappointed by the general's betrayal of their friendship.
Landung promptly stood up, pointing his finger and speaking out: 'General, I have no fear of death! I've survived all the battles I waged. But if this time I should die, deliver my body to Imogiri so I can be close to my wife.'
Along with his narration, the fragment of this incident was enlivened by the dramatic performance of Gadjah Mada Theater. Several of the lesung players who provided musical illustration changed their roles and portrayed De Kock's troops. They rose and moved toward Diponegoro in a corner of the hall. Without resistance, the prince walked gallantly, guarded by De Kock's soldiers.
'My ancestors have foretold I'll be a fighter, though I know my struggle won't succeed. But this is my duty. Somebody must have the courage to fight the Dutch because the suffering of the people is unbearable,' Landung ended his narration.
In Peter Carey's records, after being cunningly detained, Diponegoro was taken by carriage to Ungaran and later to the region of Semarang's Resident before being transported by ship to Batavia (Jakarta).
Earlier, Landung related the biography of the prince, who was originally named Raden Mas Ontowiryo. He was the first son of Yogyakarta Sultan Hamengkubuwo III from his concubine Raden Ajeng Mangkarawati.
The prince was appointed a sultan and given the full title Abdulhamid Herucokro Amirul Mukminin Sayidin Panatagama Khalifatullah Tanah Jawi (Sultan Ngabdulhamid), because the four palaces of the Mataram kingdom ' Kasunanan, Mangkunegaran, Kasultanan and Pakualaman ' were no longer seen as independent.
'As a sultan, the prince is not only a ruler of the country but also a religious leader. His major aim is to liberate the country from Dutch colonializm,' said Landung, imitating the words of Kyai Mojo, Diponegoro's peer in the struggle against the Dutch.
To complete his narration, Landung also gave an account of the prince's resistance in various battles, among others in the Menoreh Mountain range extending from Yogyakarta to Central Java, Sleman (Yogyakarta), Purworejo and Magelang (Central Java).
' Photos by JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi
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