JAKARTA (indo.com): Jakarta is a real mixing pot of ethnic
diversity, with peoples from all over the archipelago -
traditional cultures mix and intermingle, co-existing side
by side with modern metropolitan life. In such a diverse,
flamboyant setting, it is sometimes easy to overlook the
native inhabitants of the city.
The original people of Jakarta are the Orang Betawi. "Orang"
means "person", and "Betawi" indicates the original Dutch
name of the city, Batavia. The Betawi language has a special
place in the Jakarta of today, being the fashionable street
language of the younger generation of Jakartans - it has
been adopted as the hip, modern, trendy and informal language
of kids and yuppies alike. The older, traditional Betawi
language is also still widely spoken by the older generation
of the Betawi people.
In the Jakarta of old, the Betawi people dominated the centre
of the city, but as it has expanded, much of their land
has been bought up for development and the Betawi people
have been dispersed. Condet, however, stands out as a little
Kampung (village or community) Betawi in East Jakarta, where
traditional Betawi life continues undisturbed, and the old
rural lifestyle of Jakarta has been preserved. Surrounded
by shady trees and gardens, Condet is famous for its fruit
orchards and their produce.
The history of Condet in many ways reflects that of the
city as a whole. The book Cagar Budaya Betawi dates the
community back to 1860. At that time the land in Condet
was owned by a prince from Mataram (in Lombok) and his wife.
A sly Dutch landlord by the name of Jan Ameen then managed
to cheat the couple out of their land, and after he died,
the land was inherited by Jan Ameen's family. Legend has
it that they were cruel landowners, but the local people
were unable to kick them out as the Ameen family was supported
by the powerful colonial government. After independence
was attained, however, the land of Condet was given back
to the original Betawi people.
This is relatively modern history, however, and the community
probably dates back many thousands of years. Along the Ciliwung
river in this area, archeologists have found items such
as earthenware pottery and stone axe and spear heads - evidence
of community life long before the Betawi were there.
The Kampung Betawi of today offers the visitor a great insight
into traditional Jakartan town life; the buildings are preserved
by government order, and many Betawi people live in their
traditional style houses, going about their business growing
of selling fruit, fishing, trading amongst the myriad of
other activities which are an inevitable part of modern