Saturday, 21 April 2012

Kartini: A Progressive カルティニと進歩の概念

As I was sitting in front of the computer this morning, doing my morning ritual - checking updates of my friends on Facebook :-) I noticed that today is 21st of April. You might be confused as to what is with 21st of April.


Ok, before leading you to further confusion, I'll take you on a journey back to 133 years ago.


On this day 133 years ago in 1879 was born a woman of the Regent of Japara. Japara is a regency in the northeastern part of Central Java. Her name was Kartini. and she is considered as a heroine in the emancipation of women movement in Indonesia. Her birth date is celebrated as Kartini Day.


As a daughter of a Regent, she had to live a conventional life according to values held by the society of her race - Javanese - and her religion. Moreover, she was a daughter of aristocracy.
Raised in a strict feudal system, Kartini was allowed by her father to receive education until she was twelve years old. Her father was the son of Pangèran Ario Tjondronegoro, the Regent of Demak (another regency in the Central Java), who was described as "the first regent of middle Java to unlatch his door to that guest from over the sea—Western civilization." Her father sent her and her sisters to Europeesche Lagere School or free grammar school for Europeans to learn Dutch. Her best friend at school was Letsy - a Dutch girl, the daughter of the headmaster. One day Letsy asked her a question that raised her curiosity, "What are you going to be when you grow up?" Feeling intrigued, she went home and asked her father who loved her so dearly, "What am I going to be when I grow up?" Her father just smiled and pinched her cheek. At the age of twelve she knew what she would become and this put her in despair since a spirit of rebellion had grown in her.

摂政の娘として、彼女は、ジャワの民族文化民族あるいは宗教に縛られた保守的な生活を送らなければなりませんでした。彼女は、貴族の娘だったのですから。厳格な封建制度の元で育った彼女でしたが、父は12歳になるまで、彼女に教育を受けることを許可してくれました。彼女の父は、パンゲラン・アリオ・トヨンドロネゴロという、中部ジャワの別の摂政デマクの評議員で、「海外(西洋文明)に門戸を開いた中部ジャワの最初の評議員」と言われた人物の息子でした。彼女の父は、彼女と妹を、当時あったヨーロッパ語学学校へオランダ語を学びに行かせました。その学校での彼女の一番の友達はレッシーというオランダ人で、その校長の娘でした。ある日レッシーは、彼女にちょっとした質問をしたのですが、それが大変に彼女の興味を引きました。「大きくなったら何になるの?」 何か他意があるのではないかといぶかった彼女は家に帰って、可愛がってくれる父に尋ねました。「私は大きくなったら何になるの?」父はただ笑って彼女の頬をつまみました。12歳の彼女は自分が将来どうなるかが理解できて、そのため彼女は落胆しました。そして、反抗への意志が芽生えたのです。

In one of her letters to her Dutch pen friends she said, ""Even in my childhood, the word 'emancipation' enchanted my ears; it had a significance that nothing else had, a meaning that was far beyond my comprehension, and awakened in me an ever-growing longing for freedom and independence.." She was opposed to arranged marriage and polygamy. She criticized the feudal system in Javanese society and the way people perceived religions.


Her formal education discontinued at the age of 12 and according to the established social conducts of Javanese society at that time she was old enough to be put in seclusion at home as preparation to be a bride in the future. Some day her parents would chose a man for her to be married to. Her world fell apart. But she didn't give up. She continued to educate herself through Dutch books that her father provided her. She also corresponded with some Dutch pen friends with whom she shared her thoughts and feelings.


A self-portrait. Photo courtesy of Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam.
Her wish was to educate women so that they could be independent. For that purpose, she begged her father to let her go to the Netherlands to study. Though he was quite lenient towards education for women, her father was still bound by the watchful eyes of Javanese society. He firmly rejected it. She then asked her father whether he would let her go to Batavia (Jakarta) if he didn't give her permission to go to Holland. Strangely, despite her father approving of her going to Batavia, she didn't go... I wonder why she didn't and there's been quite a lot of speculation why she didn't..


Anyway, she did build a school for little girls at home and she gave in when her parents married her off to a man who had already three wives. The major reason for this was her ailing father. She was in dilemma whether to go her way or to let her beloved father suffer from illness. And she chose her father.


A year later, she gave birth to her only son and child. Four days after she passed away due to labor. She died at the age of 25.


Kartini (in the middle) with her family. Photo courtesy of Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam.
Kartini didn't get to see that Indonesian women now have the freedom that she had longed for. But her thoughts stood against time and have been the inspiration and great motivation for them, including me :-) 

Happy Kartini Day! :-)


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