Over the years, the family of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has been known for leading a modest lifestyle, keeping their daily lives private and staying relatively far from the country’s political sphere.
On a rare occasion on Saturday, however, the country’s First Family sat down together with journalists and provided a glimpse into the family, most of whose members have preferred to take the path of entrepreneurship rather than following in Jokowi’s footsteps in politics.
Jokowi and First Lady Iriana, together with their oldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka and his wife Selvi Ananda, as well as their son Jan Ethes Srinarendra, took a morning walk before the meeting around the Bogor Palace complex in West Java on Saturday.
Caption/Description: President Joko Widodo sit during their workout session in Bogor Palace, West Java, saturday, December 8, 2018. (JP/Seto Wardhana)
Daughter Kahiyang Ayu, her husband Bobby Nasution and their daughter Sedah Mirah Nasution, also joined the occasion.
“It’s hard for us to get together like this […] because each of us has their own routines and activities,” Jokowi told reporters, “However, I am thankful that [the children] are already independent and on their own.”
While Iriana is mostly seen accompanying Jokowi in his presidential duties, their sons, Gibran and the youngest Kaesang Pangarep, have been busy managing their own culinary businesses and opening up new branches in cities across the country.
Work apparently comes first for the children of Jokowi—who also ran a furniture business before he joined the government—including for Kaesang, the tech-savvy first son and the owner of his own banana fritters brand Sang Pisang.
The 23-year-old was the only member of the family who was missing on Saturday because he had left for Makassar, South Sulawesi, early in the morning for the opening of an e-sports competition and the launch of a new outlet, Jokowi said.
“It cannot be negotiated, work is number one,” he said.
The media-shy Gibran, who founded a catering business named Chilli Pari in his hometown of Surakarta, Central Java, established and currently manages the highly popular chain of martabak (sweet pancake) Markobar restaurants.
Bobby, a native of Medan in North Sumatra, manages his own coffee shop brand, Kopi Jolo. Together with Kaesang and Gibran, they launched in May their Kedai Rakyat (People’s Food Joint) outlet in Medan, marking the expansion of their culinary business footprint in the country.
Caption/Description: President Joko Widodo accompanid by first Lady Iriana accomoanied by first son and daughter in law, Gibrang Rakabuming(R)-Selvi Ananda(2nd R) and grandson Jan Ethes walking together during their workout session in Bogor Palace, West Java, saturday, December 8, 2018. (JP/Seto Wardhana)
Gibran opened up and said that Jokowi raised his children with strict principles, such as to be responsible in education and to be independent, while giving them the freedom to do what they wanted to.
While acknowledging that many people would always see him and Kaesang as the President’s sons when they ran their businesses, Gibran pointed out that he and his sibling did not carry Jokowi’s surname and they did not live under their father’s shadow.
“[Kaesang and I] demanded to be our own persons,” Gibran said, “We built our own names without affiliation to our parents, although it’s inevitable that people will always associate us [with Jokowi].”
“While we consider [Jokowi’s name] a bonus, both of us still work hard,” he said.
When asked about following Jokowi’s footsteps as a politician, Gibran and Bobby suggested that they would focus on their business first, while Kahiyang said that she had no interest in getting involved in politics.
The family also addressed negative comments attacking Jokowi, who is currently juggling his presidential tasks with his campaign for reelection in 2019, with Gibran saying that such comments had circulated ever since his father had first served as Surakarta mayor in 2005.
“When there is negative comment, the family must not be reactive,” Gibran said, “We don’t need to react because to do so would make the hoax go even more viral.”