1.13 Rift (interview)

< >


The father of the Javanese Husein Djajadiningrat held senior positions in the colonial administration and had obtained a doctorate at Leiden University. The family was part of the Indonesian colonial elite. That elite, like the Djajadiningrat family, combined Western and traditional Javanese elements. While Husein Djajadiningrat regularly had Dutch school friends to visit, he was rarely invited into their homes. In the final analysis, he remained a ‘native’, someone who was lower down the colonial social ladder than them. Thus, he lived in two separate worlds: Javanese society and Dutch colonial society. When the Indonesian revolution broke out, it created a rift in his family. As the old colonial hierarchies started to give way, people were forced to recalibrate their relationships with one another. Mr Djajadiningrat himself made a modest contribution to the revolution by producing propaganda posters with a call to fight the colonial regime.

Interview with Mr H.W. (Husein) Djadjadiningrat. SMGI 1462.1 (12). Rotterdam, 1999


I: “Were you pressurized to join the revolution?”

D: “No. My cousin wrote a pamphlet criticizing my father because he joined the federal [Dutch] government straight away. There were other cousins too who said, ‘Oh, aren’t those your relatives?’ I replied, ‘They’re in Jakarta and I’m not in contact with them’. They were revolutionaries.”

I: “Did that create rifts within the immediate family or between other relatives?”

D: “Often it did. That changed with the Republic [of Indonesia]. At the start of the revolution, we made posters and stuck them up everywhere. We drew them ourselves because there were no printers. Of course we thought it was amazing, on those large sheets of paper, with our classmates.”

I: “What would be in such a poster?”

D: “Something like ‘Self-rule’ and ‘An end to the [colonial] yoke’. With a simple drawing of a little man. It was really fun drawing them together. But it didn’t take long before they were gone. They were all torn down. But we still felt we had at least done something.”