September 24, 2013

A Monument to Bamboo (Pontianak)

Monumen Digulis (Bamboo Monument) is not located in the city center of Pontianak but is situated in the roundabout just outside the University of Tanjuongpura. 

This monument has a history related to West Kalimantan youth's struggle (Sarekat Islam)  to achieve independence.
Photo by Sarawakiana 7th Sept 2013

This monument has 11 stakes towering into the sky, every one a different size.  The monument was unveiled on 10 November 1987 by the then Governor of West Kalimantan, H Soedjiman. At one time it was painted white and red and many thought that it looked like lipsticks. In 2011 the colours were changed to the original bamboo colours of yellow with stripes of green.

There is a dark story behind the establishment of this monument. It all started in 1914, when the formation of the SI Party (SI) in Ngabang (aka City of Hedgehogs). Faith-based organizations received a lot of sympathy from the public, until the Dutch government finally issued an order to freeze all activities of the SI.

There was rampant insurgency of SI members in Java and Sumatra. The Dutch East Indies government arrested 11 leaders of West Kalimantan movement. Three of the 11 characters died while exiled to Digoel in West Irian, while 5  died in the incident in the Porcupine District Overseer.

The 11 Bamboo Digulists symbolizes each hero: Achmad Marzuki, Ahmad Bilal Ahmad bin Su'ud, Gusti Djohan Idrus, Gusti Hamzah, Gusti Moehammad Situt Machmud, Gusti Soeloeng Lelanang, Sawang Amasundin Jeranding Sari, H Hj Rais bin Abdurahman, alias Bung Patch Moehammad Hanbal, Moehammad Sohor and Yes 'Moehammad Sabran.

Their names are also enshrined in the street names of Pontianak.  Armed struggle in Indonesia involving the use of tapered bamboo was recorded throughout the history of the county.

After the Declaration of Independence, the general population continued to fight against the Japanese, the Dutch and the Allies. The "tapered bamboo became the weapons of the masses." The Indonesians were able to get hold of the guns of the Japanese when they surrendered. 
Other Bamboo Monuments are found in Surabaya and Genteng.

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