Local Knowledge and Collective Memory About Disaster in Central Sulawesi and Banten


Community experiences in dealing with frequent disasters and local knowledge about disasters can be a valuable archive for disaster risk reduction. Unfortunately, there has not been much documentation of collective memory and local knowledge about disasters. There for our research is conducted to collect and documenting collective memories and local knowledge about disasters in Central Sulawesi and Banten as part of disaster risk reduction efforts, aiming to encourage access to risk information that can be considered in development policies and other disaster risk reduction measures.

The study of local knowledge and collective memory of the people in Central Sulawesi and Banten using an ethnographic approach show several findings. Both region has a lot of local knowledge and community collective memories of disasters. The people of Central Sulawesi have customary law to prevent environmental damage based on disaster mitigation. The Kaili community in Central Sulawesi carries out several ways to maintain natural harmony by making customary laws and sanctions related to using and utilizing natural resources called Ombo Nungata.

Read more: Budaya Mencegah Penyebaran Wabah Penyakit Ala Masyarakat Kaili

The management of natural resources is carried out by the Kulawi indigenous people in in Sigi Regency, Central Sulawesi, based on their local knowledge and carried out according to existing customary law. There is a regional division system as a form of forest resource management, which is still being carried out by the Kulawi community. The division of the territory includes:

Wana Ngiki area is area as a source of water absorption. Wana is the area habitat for animals endemic to this area. Pahawa Pongko is primary and secondary forest. Oma is a grove of former ancestral garden. Banglingkae is a former garden that is still new and has not been completely abandoned. Pampa is a place for people to farm or gardening.

Through local knowledge that is preserved from generation to generation as a form of mitigation efforts, by caring for flora and fauna habitats, protecting water sources, and protecting forests from damage that can cause landslides or flash floods.

Read more: Inspirasi Hutan Adat Kulawi dalam Membangun Resiliensi

Sometimes, vocabulary of the parents in the Kaili community is a sign of a natural event, that is then experienced by humans like that often occurs. Socioculturally and linguistically, appears when there has been an incident.

In addition, the Kaili people already have a vocabulary of words in their language about a natural disaster, showing that culturally they have become part of the history of the Kaili civilization, so that it becomes language memory.

Toponyms as hazard markers are found in the names of areas, including Tompe and Sibado Villages in Sirenja District, Donggala Regency. Tompe Village is one of the villages close to the epicenter of the 28 September 2018 earthquake. Some interpret that the word Tompe means splashed by sea, their ancestors used the Koro Rai language and Tajio, interpreted Tompe as drifting/ float away. The naming of the name of this area is closely related to the disaster incident. Almost all residents fled towards the hills, this is because of the experiences experienced by residents when an earthquake occurs, there is a possibility that a tsunami will occur. 

Sibado Village is the destination area for most of the people of Tompe Village, when they save themselves, this is because the location of Sibado Village has a higher land contour. The name Sibado itself is interpreted by local people as a place for fishing, based on local knowledge possessed by residents it can be interpreted that Sibado was a coastal area. All of this is caused by Geological processes cause the land around the Palu-Koro Fault to be uplifted or downlifted.

Read more: Tanda Tsunami dalam Toponimi Desa Tompe

The naming of the area in the Palu Valley was carried out based on three aspects, namely geological and geographical conditions, ecological conditions, and historical and traditional events.

The name Balaroa in Palu City, Central Sulawesi is taken from the name of a tree that has health benefits. Before it was named Balaroa, this area used to be called Tagari Londjo. Past memories of Balaroa (Londjo) indicate a place characterized by swamps or water sources. The vocabulary of the people of Central Sulawesi in ancient times called the events of a person or object that drowned or fell into deep water or into the mud called nalondjo, derived from the word londjo, londjo can also be interpreted as being embedded in mud. In the past, Londjo was an area that residents of West Marawola Mount avoided because of their fear that this area would sink.

Read more: Balaroa dan Toponimi Pertanda Bahaya

The naming of Biromaru is included in the ecological naming aspect. The name Biromaru according to the language used by the Kaili Rai tribe comes from the words Biro and Namaru, Biro meaning weeds, Namaru meaning rotting.

There are also regional names which mean disaster, including the Duyu Village in Palu City which means landslide. There are also several villages with the same name in various regions. Like the name Kampung Kaombona which means landslide, is found in the Sigi, Donggala and Parigi Moutong regency, this indicates that these areas have experienced the same disaster, that is landslides.

Read more: Jejak Bencana dalam Nama Kelurahan Duyu

Besides having customary rules and toponyms, Central Sulawesi also has local knowledge in the form of poetry.

We found a poem or kayori that tells the story of the 1938 earthquake and tsunami.

Goya-goya gontiro, Toka bonga Loli’o. Palu, Tondo, Mamboro, Matoyoma, Kayumalue melantomo. 

Rocking in the Ganti village (Banawa, Donggala). Who looked down on the people of Kabonga Vilage and Loli Oge. Palu, Tondo and Mamboro have sank. Stay Kayumalue is floating.

These are the verses from the Kaili tribe’s poetry or kayori. Kayori is an oral literature of the Kaili tribe in Central Sulawesi which contains ancient poems about the past which are full of meaning, including those about natural disasters. 

Kayori or words spoken with a certain tone of voice and character is a true thing to happen. In the poem, it is stated that the disaster caused Mamboro to be in the sea. Victims fell and people’s houses were destroyed. The Mamboro area, experienced land to be downlift. This location is now known as Tana Runtu located in Talise Village, Palu which is above the Palu-Koro fault. To the west of Ganti Village, in Donggala, you can only see the shaking of the earthquake between Kabonga and Loli Oge. At that time, Palu, Tondo and Mamboro, were affected by the earthquake except for Kayumalue. This poem describes the earthquake and tsunami that occurred in 1938.

Read more: Cerita Tsunami dalam Kayori

Next we talk about Traditional Architecture in Kulawi district, Sigi regency, Central Sulawesi. Lobo is one of the traditional houses that functions as a place for deliberation, a traditional court and a place for traditional ceremonies.

Lobo has a distinctive design, is the result of the culture that exists and develops in this area, all the materials which is available in nature. The bottom construction or the base of the building, is composed of three round logs (called Balanoa), tied together with rattan. The walls of the lobo building are composed of wooden planks. The floor is made of lonce or ndolia wood. The pillars of the lobo building are made of round wood, which serves to help support the edges around the building. There are various decorations in the form of buffalo horns which symbolize the greatness and glory of the Kulawi community.

Lobo has a combination of stone joint foundations and log construction which produces a roll-joint structural system that is sturdy and elastic against earthquake shocks. Kulawi also has a traditional house called Hou or Bola. A house made of wood, rattan, palm fiber, sago tree trunks, bamboo, and stone.

From all the local knowledge found in Central Sulawesi, it turns out that there is a lot that has the potential to be developed into disaster risk reduction actions. People learn to adapt to an environment and disaster threats from the experiences of their ancestors. Customary regulations can raise awareness of hazards. Local knowledge about the toponym of places from the people in Central Sulawesi has not been taken into consideration for development plans. Like the cases found in Tompe Village and Sibado Village, local toponymy knowledge can also be used as a reference and developed into a buffer village or sister village program. Oral literature on disasters such as kayori in Central Sulawesi has the potential to be used as learning and directions for evacuation. Building designs from existing local knowledge can be combined with current knowledge as a development strategy based on local-based disaster risk reduction.

In Banten Province, there is a story about an active fault line in Banten through the story of the ‘Urat Gunung Kendeng’. This story is found in the Baduy ethnic community and the Panggarangan region of southern Lebak. The story of ‘Urat Gunung Kendeng’ said that the island of Java is like a body that has a head, lungs and legs. His head is in Mount Honje, Ujung Kulon, his lungs are in the Kendeng Mountains, Lebak, Banten and the second is behind on Madura Island and Bali Island. This body is tied with veins or “connecting cords” that bind When something happens in one part, something will happen in the other part.

Read more: Misteri Dibalik Kata Urat Gunung Kendeng

There is local knowledge about earthquake-resistant structures scattered in several Kasepuhan in Banten. There is community knowledge in Kasepuhan Banten regarding the division of forest areas, namely leuweung tutupan, leuweung titipan, leuweung cadangan, and leuweung garapan.

Read more: Mitigasi Bencana Berbalut Pengetahuan Lokal Tertuang Dalam Sebuah Pemukiman

There is a tradition to maintain a common memory of the 1883 tsunami known as ‘Haul Kalembak’ in the west coast of Banten. This event continues to be remembered and preserved in the form of the Haul Kalembaktradition. ‘Haul’ is an activity to commemorate 100 days of someone’s death, while ‘Kalembak’ from the origin of the word kalempu ombak means being thrown or dragged by big waves. It can be interpreted that Haul Kalembak is local knowledge to remember the tsunami that occurred due to the eruption of Mount Krakatau.

Read more: Makna Dibalik Doa dalam Tradisi Haul Kalembak

Differences in disaster potential and different community characteristics in each region require developing different disaster mitigation strategies, departing from local wisdom as a form of application of local knowledge that has been formed for a long time based on the experience of the events experienced. It is worth fighting to preserve local knowledge about disasters as a form of learning specific to each region. Documentation of local knowledge and the community’s collective memory is written to enrich disaster literacy and become a reference source for local-based disaster risk reduction actions that can be used as guidelines in future regional development. (LS)

Author: Lien Sururoh and Trinirmalaningrum