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Jakarta Post

Boedi Oetomo & the birth of a nation

  • Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, August 28, 2014   /  09:53 am
Boedi Oetomo  & the birth of a nation

An exhibition of documents and photographs at the National Archives Museum gives a detailed picture of the dedicated group of intellectuals who first thought that the Dutch East Indies colony should become its own nation, Indonesia.

The Boedi Oetomo Archives Exhibition presents the history of the Boedi Oetomo organization, which was founded by medical students at STOVIA (School Tot Opleiding Van Inlandsche Artsen), the first medical school in the Dutch East Indies.

Classic: The Boedi Oetomo exhibit is held at the National Archives Museum, once the home of one of the governors-general of the Dutch East Indies.Classic: The Boedi Oetomo exhibit is held at the National Archives Museum, once the home of one of the governors-general of the Dutch East Indies.

The group'€™s members, which included Sutomo, Goenawan Mangoenkoesoemo, Mohammad Soelaiman, Gondo Soewarno, R. Angka Prodjosoedirdjo, Mochammad Saleh, R. Mas Goembrek, Soeradji Tirtonegoro and Soewarno, were inspired by a speech made by their senior Wahidin Sudirohusodo on the importance of educational organizations.

It led to the establishment of Boedi Oetomo on May 20, 1908, which is currently commemorated as National Awakening Day.

'€œThe exhibition is part of the effort to visualize the history to help our young generation learn about the history. The young people see history as boring. A visual exhibition will help them understand the events,'€ said curator Bonie Triana, chief editor of Historia magazine, said during the opening on Aug. 21.

The exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Indonesian National Archives, the National Archives of the Netherlands, Erasmus Huis and Historia magazine.

Dutch deputy ambassador W. Wouter Plump and the Dutch archives director Charles Jeurgens were also at the opening which was officiated by House of Representatives deputy speaker Pramono Anung Wibowo.

'€œWe hope by understanding history, Indonesians can be more optimistic about the future, because no country sees progress overnight. There must be a strong historical root underneath it,'€ said Pramono.

He said that the principles set by founding president Sukarno were largely influenced by Boedi Oetomo'€™s train of thought. '€œThe organization had significant role in building the nation. We have to thank our founding fathers who have thought of unifying the nation who share the same ideology, country and language.'€

The documents, mostly in Dutch and Javanese hanacaraka script, include a written speech of Wahidin and the minutes of the meeting of the STOVIA students that led to the establishment of Boedi Oetomo.

The display was made in accordance with the course of the organization'€™s history: rising aawareness in 1907; the dynamics between the intellectual noble Javanese members and common people within the organization; their support for suggestions to arm civilians and to form a parliament; its transformation from a moderate to radical organization; its demands for independence and eventual merger with the Indonesia Raya Party (Parindra) in 1935.

'€œBoedi Oetomo was initially a non-political organization, as its main purpose was to promote culture and education,'€ said Indonesian National Archives director Mustari Irawan.

He said that his office was still trying to obtain all archives related to Boedi Oetomo from his Dutch counterpart. '€œThe archives are very important as they hold the identity of our nation, our country.'€

The free exhibition is ongoing until Aug. 30 at the National Archives Museum on Jl. Gajah Mada 111 in Mangga Besar, West Jakarta. The historic building housing STOVIA is also open as the National Development Museum in Senen, Central Jakarta.

'€” Photos by JP/Jerry Adiguna

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