Luscious green pastures undulate the hills, capturing an idyllic scene throughout our long car rides across the different regions of the island. We passed through terrains, irrigated paddy and maize fields, long and winding off road tracks of white marbled rocks and wet, naturally fertilized soil. Only then will we be able to witness the nirvana-like view of the vast blue sea – shades of blue and Azul fuses through the waters as the reflections light from the heating sun penetrates into it.
We traversed through the savannah and untended roads, arriving into villages, with high-rise thatched roofs, built with wooden and bamboo foundation, and supported by four mahogany wooden pillars on the inside. We learned about their collective cultures, their enthusiasm and urgency of ‘gotong royong’ or togetherness and mutually shared burden, we learned the beauty of rebirth and purity through the symbol Mamoli, their craftwork of stories, experiences, images and objects, translated and intricately hand-woven in their ikat tenun. No matter how pervasive Catholicism and Christianity faiths are the island, people still pay homage to their marapu, a cultural faith based on deeds against nature, superstitions and bloody sacrifices – faith that still runs true in their bloods.
Visiting Sumba opened my eyes to a horizon of differences – a whole new experience filled with thrill, depth and allure. Sumba screams for attention. Evident from the poorly maintained infrastructure, the humbled villages deprived of basic necessities such as water, the city center barely developed with old remnants of Dutch colonial building stood, merely dilapidated – all those imperfect veneers cover its richness and diversity. Sumba also screams suppression; the predatory moguls are pushing them and neocolonialism prevails over the island’s beautiful imperfections, exploiting them to the core. A warning sign has yet to bring the island to a halt from its impending bitter truths and daunting reality.
Rollei Camera with Ektar 35mm film camera