A Letter For Colonized Past

ARTIST: Nugraha Salim

What can my grandfather’s story tell us about the postcolonial condition? How did the people of South Sulawesi live after Indonesia’s Declaration of Independence?

two different coloured hands outstretched grasping for each other.For over three centuries of colonization, the people of Indonesia lived in suffering. Even after the Declaration of Independence in 1945, violence continued to plague the new nation, and colonialism persisted: for example, through the War of Surabaya, the War of Semarang, and the Massacre of Westerling in South Sulawesi. In addition to the resistance against the colonizer, there were also conflicts between native Indonesians, some of which were indirect consequences of colonialism.

This is a story about my grandfather’s life told through three moments of family rupture that resulted from colonization, civil war, and resource extraction in Indonesia. They are three separate instances in which his family was broken apart as a result of massacre and war, but also hope. His descendants are now scattered throughout Sengkang, Rantepao, Palopo, and Sorowako—almost without news about each other, and barely knowing one another. Perhaps each of them feels that they are almost without a family. Those who survived the calamities certainly did not speak much about their family history; because who has the ability to recount these mournful events? What is left behind is a family history that for the most part has disappeared. A book with only half of it left. A chance encounter with my grandfather’s photograph compelled me to find the missing pages.

English Version

Indonesian Version

Nurul Mizan Asyuni finished her study in English Literature at Universitas Hasanuddin in 2018. She was a varsity debater and MUNer from 2017-2019. In 2019, she participated as a delegate to discuss women and children’s issues at the International Leaders Model United Nations (ILMUN) in Bangkok, Thailand. In the same year, she worked as a Community Organizer of ArkomPalu in Mamboro Induk, Mamboro Ikan, and Wani in Palu, Central Sulawesi for 6 months. Her writing about literature and her experience as a community organizer were published in Harian Fajar and IndoProgress. Currently, she is a member of Riwanua as a researcher while working as a freelance translator.

Amal Nur Muhammad is a self-taught visual artist based in Makassar. He used to study English Literature in Universitas Hasanuddin but didn’t graduate to start a screen printing business. He started to draw in highschool and has illustrated several album covers and band merchandise. Currently, he is focusing on making artwork for band merchandise and clothing brands worldwide while still doing screen printing. He shares his work on Instagram portfolio @racunstudio.