The people of Limau village in Tobelo, North Maluku, were saved from a religious conflict in Tobelo from 1999-2001 by listening to local legend.
The rumbling engine of our car approached an unsurfaced road before we entered the peaceful village of Limau from Tobelo, North Maluku. Mukmi Sabam, a custom chief, and Muhammad, the village head, welcomed Tempo one noon in April.
They accompanied us to a house onstilts called Bangsaha Seri Kodhoba. Two brothers once occupied this house and later came into conflict. . In the house there are two wooden replicas of hawks already corroded by termites. "The replicas have never been replaced,"said Mukmin Sabam told Tempo.
On the other side of the house was a hall and bamboo bench. Its yard is covered by beach sand with dry leaves scattered over it. According to Mukmin, the Limau community now uses the house for the settlement of communal disputes at the same time for custom ceremonies.
Mukmin recalled when a religious conflict broke out in Tobelo from 1999-2001, the people of Limau village were not affected by communal war. "As soon as the villagers heard the news about Christians and Muslims killing each other, they calmly responded to the incident and remembered the story of Bangsaha Seri Kodhoba," he said.
Yesaya, Chairman of the Hibualamo Custom Institute, also a custom chief in Limau village, said the legend had existed in Limau village for centuries portraying two brothers, Dokukuhi and Marasamalukahi, engaged in a fight. It was triggered by an accidental touch of the breast of Marasamalukahi's wife by Dokukuhi as he gave her a cake. Marasamalukahi was enraged. His older brother was challenged to a fight. The duel lasted seven days and nights. In fact, the two brothers lived in the same house called bangsaha.
At the moment Marasamalukahi was about to kill his brother, it struck him that there was no benefit in killing his own sibling. To overcome his smoldering rage, Marasamalukahi cut their bangsaha into two parts. Marasamalukahi took his part of the building to the coastal village of Ngidiho. His older brother remained in Limau.
In Ngidiho village, Marasamalukahi lived peacefully with his wife. One day, he found a flock of hawks perching on the roof of his house. As he observed, the birds were flying to the seaside. The hawks wished to convey the message that fish were abundant offshore. So they began catching fish every day until they could no longer consume their haul. The dead fish were buried at the northern tip of Limau village and was named Nao Maboosu or Fish Grave.
With fish perishing, the hawks no longer came to Ngidiho. Marasamalukahi said this upset him. Marasamalukahi made two wooden replicas of hawks clad in red and white cloths. "White represents sincerity, meaning that conserving nature should come from the heart, and red symbolizes the courage to safeguard nature," noted Yesaya.
Marasamalukahi returned to Limau village and met with his older brother Dokukuhi in peace. They also went back to Bangsaha Seri Kodhoba.
Yesaya revealed that residents of Limau in the bloody conflict in Ambon in 1999 followed what the brothers of Dokukuhi and Marasamalukahi had done. "Muslim and Christian residents agreed to not to kill and instead separate," he added.
Muhammad explained the Islamic villagers left for Soasia Galela located in the coastal area and their fellow Christian residents headed for Duma, West Galela in the interior. Three years later, when the conflict was over, the Muslims and Christians reunited to occupy Limau village. "With nobody victimized, Bangsaha Seri Kodhoba was returned to its original place on the beach of Limau," said Mukmin.
No. 39/12, May 23, 2012
The Bangsaha Seri Kodhoba house, where residents of Limau village settle their disputes.