Exploring Ubuntu and Hasta Brata shared values of Indonesia and South Africa

19 October 2020

“Since ancient time until now, Javanese shadow puppet has played an important role in the lives of Indonesian people. It is used not only as a tool of entertainment for the public but also as a tool for various messages such as philosophical values, Islamic values, and ethical leadership. It includes the famous South African philosophy of ‘Ubuntu’,” said the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, Salman Al Farisi on the virtual discussion titled, “Ubuntu values in Hasta Brata story of Javanese Puppet Play”

The close friendship between Indonesia and South Africa is being increasingly felt by carrying out various joint activities. This time the Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria invited South Africa to discuss universal values embedded in the cultures of the two nations, namely, Hasta Brata and Ubuntu through a virtual discussion entitled "Ubuntu values in Hasta Brata story of Javanese Puppet play"

The virtual discussion presented three speakers, namely Imtiaz Cajee, Rajen Reddy and Edi Dwi Rianto from Universitas Airlangga. In the discussion guided by Nadim Aziz, one of Bali Democracy Student Conference speakers 2019, Dr Rianto explored the cultural values of the two peoples, viz., Ubuntu and Hasta Brata. Imtiaz Cajee said that Ubuntu and Hasta Brata were the basis for their struggle to get justice from the abuses experienced during the apartheid period. Rajen Reddy stated that Ubuntu and Hasta Brata are very important values in building community togetherness, which is useful, especially, in economic development, and community empowerment through SMME. Edi Dwi Rianto explained that Hasta Brata is a guidance for leaders derived from the eight elements of nature, namely earth, sun, fire, ocean, sky, wind, moon, and stars. Each Hastabrata element defines each ideal characteristic of a leader. The discussion also heard some insight from the co-curator of the shadow puppet show at the Rietberg Museum in Zurich, Eva Von Reumont. According to Eva Reumont, the important meaning of a puppet show is the philosophical values it carries. These values need to be continuously explored because they are rich in ethics and morality which are currently depleting due to the influence of materialism.

Hasta Brata and Ubuntu are universal values which shared commonalities. Both Ubuntu and Hasta Brata are universal ethics that bind the human spirit. Both principles recognize that we are all bound together, that there is oneness to humanity, that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others and caring for those around us. Ubuntu and Hasta Brata are ethics that can prevent or solve political, social, economic, and psychological conflicts through wisdom and dialogue.

The virtual discussion activity was preceded by footage of the Climen puppet show by master puppeteer Ki Dalang Seno Nugroho from Yogyakarta. In the story of Wahyu Makutarama, the webinar participants were invited to explore the values of Hasta Brata that were conveyed at the encounter between Arjuna and Pendito Padmonobo. Climen Puppet show presented by The Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Pretoria, South Africa was witnessed by hundreds of thousands of puppet fans in various parts of the world. Climen puppet show is a a very popular puppet show that simplifies the old tradition of the performance to adapt to current conditions. Climen puppet show used fewer personnel as Javanese singer and traditional Javanese musician, and the duration of the show is shortened to 2-3 hours from 8 hours. Although the puppet show is estimated to be over a thousand years old, this cultural art still captivates the heart of many generations.

Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Pretoria