Meet the Papua Writer who Receives International Recognition


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Indonesia has so many talented writers who receive international recognition, and one of them comes from West Papua. Let’s read the story of Igir Al Qatiri.


As literature is a product of culture, it is not hard to find famous writers in Indonesia. You can find a writer in almost every region, including Papua. Igir Al Qatiri is a well-known writer from easternmost provinces West Papua and Papua. Some of his works have been distributed at both national and international levels.

Little do we know that his passion is far from his study and occupancy. Let’s meet him.

Irham Muchsin Al Qatiri

Irham Muchsin Al Qatiri is the full name of this famous writer who frequently wears colorful shoes. He is the son of Muchsin Mursain bin Husain bin Syekh Usman Lahmadi Al-Qatiri and Khadijah Arfan Khari.

He went to the only Vocational High School in Kotaraja, Papua. And he has since been an electrical technician. When he graduated, his father asked him to find a job to pay for his younger siblings’ studies. It is not without reason. He came from a middle-low class family. His father also did not make much money from his odd jobs.

Being the eldest brother in the family made him take huge responsibilities. After his father died in 2007, he did not want to disappoint him. He took the role of the backbone of the family. His electricity works include big buildings, mosques, and government offices in Papua.

He started his first year as an electrical technician when he was a tenth grader. During that time, this man, who has the blood of Papuan, Ternate, Chinese, and Arabian, was known as Ilham. This name was given by a Chinese businessman who cannot spell “R”. He called Ilham instead of Irham. And the name is well-known among Papuan businessmen.

But his writing life has been started when he was in elementary school. He was known for his love of reading. Thus, he wrote a love poem when he was a second-grader. His junior and vocational high school friends frequently asked him to write a sick leave letter.

Since 2015, he has written about 1,731 unpublished poems. He has also collected thousands of books in his house in South Jayapura. He still lives with his mother, who came from Raja AmpatWest Papua.

He conveys that his role model in literature is Kahlil Gibran. He said that Jesus is known for the Bible, Muhammad is known for Al-Quran, and Kahlil Gibran is known for his literary works. It motivates him to hone his talent and turn inspiration into writings.

If you want to know more about his writings, you need to read “Menelusuri Jejak Langkah Sang Legenda Black Brothers,” released in 2011. The book receives much love and hate and is a most-wanted book up to date.

But, he did write the controversial book; he also tried to call the legendary group band Black Brother back to Indonesia. In 2016, he initiated a community called Pilamo Aksara. The community was meant to gather all writers in the land of Cendrawasih. He still frequently attends meetings among Papuan writers and other events up to date.

Write to be Heard

Writing promises many benefits. For West Papua and Papua, writing means introducing the easternmost provinces throughout the country and the world. Many international media have many topics to talk about in these very regions.

Being known to the outside world can be a good sign. But, when the information about the regions are the same both nationally and internationally, a question arises: does the local people’s knowledge is similar to international readers’ knowledge about the region?

Fortunately, Papuan writers know about it. Several months ago, Andre Liem, Charless Toto, Igir Al Qatiri, and Vonny Aronggear organized a small gathering to discuss this issue. They asked the youth to focus on doing a consistent, positive activity. They further said that consistency, commitment, and continuous learning were important for success.

Al Qatiri advised the youth not to give up in writing in line with this. They need to keep honing their skill to perfection and are not lulled by the ease the technology offers. He said that gold should be heated, melted, and formed to become beautiful, so do writing skills.

Vonny Aronggear advised the youths to learn more about the world of literature. She believed that reading and writing could change the world. She also stated that one did not need to shout on social media. Writing is a noble way to share an opinion and tell a story.

Also read: Papua’s Legends and Folklores

They say that today, youth are spending too much time on gadgets. They conveyed that the activity causes them to lose a chance to learn new things. Instead of consuming too much media offerings, digging deep into the heart of Papua is way more beneficial.

Andre Liem told a story that there was no such technology when he was young. Before smartphones, he should go to a phone booth to call someone or write a letter. But, he could introduce West Papua and Papua to America. And then many Americans came to learn more about their culture and things for documentation, writings, and making movies.

Liem concluded it with a strong warning, “It would be funny if other people know us better than we know ourselves.”