TED rule 9Posted: May 17, 2011
Bengkulu, West Sumatra, Indonesia
One year ago, while I was looking online for tutorials on photography, I stumbled upon a video from the young talented photographer Joey L. He had spent 3 weeks in a remote island close to Sumatra, shooting tribes. The pictures were great, landscapes wild, but what touched me was at the end. The shamans were inviting people from all over the world to come to the island and discover their culture. They were saying that their culture will die with them, the young generations being more interested by the “modern” way of life. I decided I will go there. And I’m just coming back from a week with the exact same people.
The island is Siberut, part of the Mentawai island. It’s a 8 hour boat trip from Padang, sumatra. At first I went there with no real plan, but I met other people going for a trek to meet the tribes. I joined them, and we went on a 3 hour canoe trip, plus 3 hour walk in the muddy jungle, to finally arrive to the Uma (traditional shaman house). We lived with the Mentawai people 3 days, then went to an other Uma, our guide father’s.
Mentawai people are amazing, friendly, with a great humour, speaking a little english from the travelers coming there. They live in harmony with the jungle, respecting each animal they hunt, talking to the spirits, healing with ancestral shamanist knowledge of plants and songs. And it’s true, it seems that their beautiful culture is dying. From the Indonesian government with police pressure and official schools, to the Indonesian culture spreading to the young Mentawai with muslim missionaries, fashion and music.
We’re living through a time when virtually half of humanity’s intellectual, social and spiritual legacy is being allowed to sleep away. This does not have to happen. These people are not failed attempts of being modern […] and destined to fade away by natural law.
In every case these are dynamic living people being driven out of existence by identifiable forces. That’s actually an optimistic observation because it suggests that if human beings are the agent of cultural destructions, we can also be, and must be, the facilitator of cultural survival.
I chose to show you his first talk, much more dense and powerful.
I could quote most of his talk, but I decided to keep the militant part of it:
We believe that politicians will never accomplish anything, we think that polemics are not persuasive but we think that story telling can change the world.
So for this TED rule: I’ll create an other blog sharing stories, pictures and videos of the people I meet during my trip.
I haven’t much time ( they are closing the internet cafe I’m in), but please watch this other video about a project to keep and finish Mentawai tattoos: Mentawai Tattoo revival. I’ll post more info on Mister Jo’s facebook and Twitter.