The city of Kaimana in West Papua is particularly known for its beautiful sunsets, hence the name Kota Senja (the city of dusk). Watching the exotic sunset is one of the reasons why people visit Kaimana. Sunset in Kaimana is said to be the most romantic. The beautiful twilight and stunning color of the skyscape over the ocean is sure a breathtaking view. There was even a popular song back in the 1960s, Senja di Kaimana (Kaimana at Dusk) describing the town’s beautiful sunset. People also celebrates Senja Kaimana Festival annually with a lot of performances, from dances, archery and local language speech.
The Two Kingdoms in Kaimana
The town used to have two kingdoms, each of which was led by a king. These two kingdoms are Namatota and Kumisi or Sran.
The Lost Kingdom of Sran
Founded in 1309, Sran Kingdom was ruled by the first king Imaga titled Rat Sran Nati Patimunin I. This kingdom moved three times, from Patimunin to Adi Island and finally to Kaimana. Until 1440 the Sran Kingdom had quite rapid development. However, the kingdom subsequently experienced degradation of power due to the invasion of Tidore Kingdom, conflicts among the royal families, and changes in the government system when Dutch government came to West Papua.
Namatota Kingdom’s territory covers Umar Bay to Arguni Bay, with its capital on Namatota Island. Today Namatota is a small village where you can find historical relics from the royal and Dutch colonial eras. One of the relics is the silverware of the kings who once ruled in Kaimana.
Namatota Kingdom in Kaimana, formerly known as the Kowial Kingdom, was the first Islamic kingdom in West Papua. Unlike other kingdoms where the king resides in a glorious palace, Namatota kings lived in a simple house. Well maintained to this day, this traditional house is no longer occupied but used to keep relics and antiques from the late Namatota kings.
The current king, Raja Randi Asnawi Ombaier, has ruled since 2014. The king has authority over customary rights and customary law. Despite living in the modern era, the people of Kaimana still respect the king and firmly adhere to customs.
The Prehistoric Wall Art
According to the Archeological Research Center, there are ninety locations where thousands of years old rock drawings are found in Papua. Most of them are found on limestone walls or in caves along the coast.
At Bitssyaru Bay and Triton Bay in Kaimana, there are drawings of Maturo (Half-man, half-lizard), fauna, flora and geometric figures. The drawings also depict some everyday objects such as boomerangs, spears, boats, and stone axes. In Mai-Mai, Kaimana, the drawing is found on a cliff, meters above sea level. It can only be seen up close from the water by using a boat, like a gallery in nature that can be seen but cannot be touched.
Fort Du Bus
Fort Du Bus was a Dutch administrative and trading post established in 1828 on Triton Bay on the southwest coast of New Guinea. It was abandoned in 1835 due to the unhealthy climate and attacks by natives. Now there is a monument where Fort du Bus once stood. Located in Lobo Village, Kaimana, West Papua, this historic fort is now a popular site among tourists.
Folklore and Culture
Other than historical sites, the history of Kaimana manifests in its folklore and culture. Here are some interesting ones:
Tales of the man-eating monsters
According to stories told by the locals, the first kingdom in Kaimana was built on Adi Island. But, due to the terror of man-eating monsters, King Kumisi moved the settlement to Kilimala Island on the east of Adi Island, although later they moved back to Adi Island.
Islamic culture in Kaimana, a Courtesy of the Past
The majority of the population in Kaimana is Muslim. According to local legends, it was a man named Imam Dhikr who first introduced Islam to Papuan and the royal family back in 1405. Islam in Kaimana also spread through trade interactions with Muslim traders from Aceh, Arabia, Ternate, and Tidore. In 1898, Islam became more and more adherents in Kaimana after Naro’E replaced Nduvin as the king. Naro’E then married the son of a tribal chief in Kaimana, strengthening the influence of Islam in Kaimana.
The influence of Islam in Kaimana culture manifests in the king tombs as historical relics of the kingdom. Today, Islamic culture can be seen in the Eid al-Fitr celebration, tambourine party, and turbans as headwear.