• Wednesday, 24 July 2024

The Reason Why Betawi People Don't Migrate

The Reason Why Betawi People Don't Migrate
Potret keluarga besar Betawi kala merayakan hari raya Idulfitri pada tahun 1951 | ANRI

SEAToday.com, Jakarta-The tradition of moving away in hopes for a better life is nothing new. Various ethnic groups of Indonesia have carried it out. The Padang, Makassar, and Madura people are known for having a strong migration culture in the archipelago.

The case is different with Betawi people. Migration is deemed not essential, it is seen as the last resort. Sometimes, migration is even perceived as a setback. That belief has been passed down from generation to generation. What is the reason behind it?

Betawi people's love for their land can't be taken lightly. They strictly uphold their traditional values. They are willing to live and start families next to each other. They are close to one another, making their connection strong.

That reality is often showcased in various mediums, such as soap operas. Take for example 1994's "Si Doel Anak Sekolahan". "Si Doel" did not only serve as entertainment, but also education.

The Betawi values created by writer Aman Datuk Madjoindo ("Si Doel" novel writer) and Rano Karno (director and actor) continued developing. The movie followed Betawi people's journey in maintaining their traditional values amid rapidly developing times.

Betawi people's love for their homeland could be seen through one of the scenes of the show. Si  Doel, portrayed by Rano Karno, was accepted into a company. He shared the good news with Babe Sabeni (Benyamin Sueb) and Nyak Lela (Aminah Cendrakasih).

Si Doel giddily shared that he was accepted as a technician in an oil company in Natuna, Riau. However, that news didn't please Sabeni, as moving away, especially to the middle of the ocean, was against their culture.

Sabeni thought his son's decision was odd. People outside Jakarta raced to live in the city, and Si Doel was willing to move away from the city. They didn't give him their blessing.

"No can do. Why do you want to make a living in the middle of the ocean? Isn't money in Jakarta enough for you? There's no way I'm letting you go. No. Period. People from all over the country move to Jakarta to make a living, and you waste your chance of making a living here by getting a job in the middle of the ocean. I will not be patient. Doel, let me tell you, you're a Batavian. You should be the one building and taking care of this land. People flock to Jakarta, how could you run away to the middle of the ocean instead?" said Sabeni in the soap opera "Si Doel".

That dialogue showcased the openness, honesty, and love of the Betawi people for their homeland. Migrating is not an important part in Betawi people's lives. The only acceptable reason for Betawi people to migrate is if they got displaced.

Even if they got displaced, they shouldn't go far. Their options are Depok, Bekasi, Karawang, Tangerang, and Serang. Betawi cultural practitioner Abdul Chaer agreed with that statement. He did not find the results of the population census in the year 2000 strange.

"Betawi people mostly live in West Java. 1,901,930 of Betawi people live there, making up 5.71 percent of the total population of 35,668,374. Banten comes in second, with 777,403 Betawi people living there, making up 10.1 percent of the total population of 8,079,938. In other provinces, the percentage of Betawi people doesn't go over one percent," said Betawi cultural practitioner Abdul Chaer in the book "Betawi Tempo Doeloe: Menelusuri Sejarah Kebudayaan Betawi" (2015).

Migrating Not Essential

Betawi cultural practitioner Masykur Isnan confirmed that migrating is not essential for Betawi people. He revealed that it can be proven through history. The location of Jakarta, which was called Batavia back then, has always been strategic.

Jakarta was the economy hub during the colonial times, and that continues even until now, prompting people all over the archipelago to come to the city. The Jakartan dream of living a better life becomes the main reason.

On the other hand, Betawi people that have long lived alongside other ethnicities feel comfortable living in Jakarta. Families and jobs all exist in Jakarta. Moving away is clearly not on the table, because life outside Jakarta might be tougher.

"Historically, Jakarta has always been the economy hub, and it was an important part for Betawi people to continue living. Betawi people believe that moving away might be harder, thus not essential. Migrating could be perceived as a setback," said Masykur Isnan to SEAToday.com, April 11, 2024.

The historic aspect has brought huge impact to the Betawi people's relationship dynamics. The little desire to move away brings them closer. They avoid being away from one another. They live and settle down with their families in the same place for generations.

Such warmth can be seen during Eid al-Fitr or whenever they gather, as there are lots of them. The extended family of a Betawi person could come from the same village or neighborhood unit.

Betawi people originally don't have the desire to migrate. However, with conditions such as displacement, some had to move away. The difference was that they tried to move not far so that they would still be close to their families.

"Even if Betawi people have to move away, they would try to go to places close to Jakarta, such as Depok and Tangerang. They do it so that they wouldn't be troubled to go to any family gatherings, such as Eid gathering, in Jakarta. Their homecoming trips would be short, unlike other ethnic groups," added Masykur Isnan.

The desire to stay close to family needs to be maintained. It has even turned into a Betawi person's characteristic, which make them perceived as people who are "comfortable at home" and not want to go far from Jakarta.

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