The West Papua has incredible legends and folklores shared from one generation after another. Descendants of each tribe grow listening to those legends told by their elders. Some folklores have even left lasting marks throughout generations.
The Indonesian Government can explore on these stories and develop initiatives to help boost nationalism. Considering the painstaking history of the province, leveraging on these folklores is certainly a worthy endeavor worth taking.
Here are some examples of the many ways the Indonesian Government could take to promote Indonesian identity and pride among the West Papuan people through their own traditional legends. Some of these methods may have been done, while others may worth trying.
Incorporation into Formal Educational Curriculum
Incorporating folklores in the curriculum has been done for many years now. Students, both natives and migrants, have been exposed to dissect the West Papua’s legends through the eyes of educational subjects. Subjects such as Bahasa Indonesia, or the Indonesian language, moral education, history and nationalism, as well as arts have long intertwining these stories for students to extract their lessons from.
From the story about Biwar The Dragon Slayer, for example, students can learn the value of courage and selflessness against evil. The story of the magical, vicious and powerful sea pirate, Sekfamneri, could help promote the nationalism and pride for their shared history with the Ambonese, so on and so forth.
A few of these folklores have also been integrated in the topics of Indonesia’s national education. Take for example the story about the origin of the Sentani Lake, which has been adopted in a few school books. This will certainly broaden the understanding of Indonesian youths in general about the diversity of Indonesia and how its coverage indeed extends from Sabang to Merauke.
Publications of Chidren’s Story Books
Some independent authors may have even developed on the original folklores of West Papua and publish illustrated children’s story books on these legends. An example is the children’s book entitled “Cendrawasih” which illustrates the legend of how the birds of paradise originated. Another example is the book “Raja Ampat: Mitos, Legenda & Kepahlawan” which is about popular or unique myths, legends and heroisms of the people of the island of Raja Ampat.
Many other story books incorporate the folklores among the stories and legends of all other provinces in Indonesia. These therefore tie the West Papuans to the rest of the Indonesians.
Nevertheless, more legends need to be featured in their own story books. One example is the story of the dragon eggs that hatched into kings of Raja Ampat and the leftout stoned egg has been ceremonially worshipped by the respective tribe even today.
Posting of Children’s Animations on YouTube
Some individuals and organizations have started to post animated children’s stories of the West Papuan folklores on YouTube. Today, you can easily find these animations simply by Googling keywords such as “legenda tanah papua” or legends of papua. You can find stories of Raja Ampat and the dragon eggs; the origin of Cendrawasih, the birds of paradise; the origin of the coconut trees; Biwar the dragon slayer; and more on the channel.
These animated children’s stories are not only useful for kids to easily learn, but they are also useful for adults who seek to quickly be amused by some of these folklores. However, there is no doubt that more stories need to be animated and posted on YouTube for broader outreach.
Going International with Indonesian Folklores & Tales
Furthermore, we could also learn from how fairy tales and stories of Hans Christian Andersen became internationally recognized and available at every home. All Indonesian folklores, including those of the West Papua, could similarly go international.
Get a team of creative writers and illustrators from each province to work on developing the stories and the arts. With the backing of a strong international publisher and its editorial experts, voila, these tales from Indonesian lands can be known to the world. This book, or series of books, will definitely become a pride product of Indonesian generations.
Organizing Book Clubs on Traditional Tales
Last but not least, as part of its allocation of educational fund, the Indonesian Government could encourage establishment of community book clubs in the regions of West Papua. This is not only to encourage fondness of reading, but also to trigger open-minded discussions on how these tales have shaped the growth of the communities at large.
There is no need to argue on how authentic the stories might be because we all know they may or may not be completely true. Most myths and legends are made of elaborated interesting pieces of history processed and polished through creative minds of the local people. Nevertheless, enriching discussions can still be built around them to establish bonds and kinships among the West Papuan people.
Now, you probably have better and more effective ways to leverage on the folklores of West Papua. Feel free to sound your creative ideas to the local government and non-government organizations to see how they could be materialized into solid actions.