CEL­E­BRAT­ING THE IN­DONE­SIA AND SA LINK

Sunday Tribune - - TECHNOLOGY - IM­RAAN BACCUS Buc­cus is se­nior re­search as­so­ciate at ASRI, re­search fel­low in the School of So­cial Sciences at UKZN and aca­demic direc­tor of a univer­sity study abroad pro­gramme on political trans­for­ma­tion.

IN­DONE­SIA and South Africa will cel­e­brate 25 years of diplo­matic re­la­tions in 2019. They are strate­gic political and eco­nomic part­ners in the evolv­ing geopol­i­tics of the In­dian Ocean Rim and more broadly in global pol­i­tics.

Im­por­tantly, In­done­sia hosted the first Afro-asian con­fer­ence in Ban­dung in 1955. South

African anti-apartheid ac­tivists

Molvi Is­mail Cachalia and Moses Kotane at­tended as ob­servers, and pre­sented a mem­o­ran­dum against apartheid, which sig­nif­i­cantly helped in­ter­na­tion­alise sup­port for the lib­er­a­tion move­ment.

Touch­ing down in Jakarta a few days ago, one is im­me­di­ately moved by the sense of en­ergy and ur­gency in one of the most vi­brant economies in the Asia-pa­cific. The new lead­er­ship of Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo is pal­pa­ble as one am­bles through its buzzing side lanes and the board­rooms of its fi­nan­cial hub.

A not dis­sim­i­lar en­ergy is bub­bling in South Africa with Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s Thuma Mina cam­paign which has given a fresh boost to the econ­omy and na­tional sen­ti­ment.

In­done­sia and South Africa share com­mon ground that goes well be­yond the quar­ter of a cen­tury of for­mal diplo­matic re­la­tions.

There are his­toric ties that bind and pro­vide a sound emo­tional ba­sis for closer, mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tions. Much of that is im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent when one me­an­ders the Cape Penin­sula from Robben Is­land to the Cape Flats.

His­tory records that barely

41 years af­ter the Dutch colo­nial in­va­sion of the Cape, the Dutch East In­dia Com­pany, in 1693, shipped Sheikh Yusuf from Makasar to ex­ile at what they re­garded as the Cape of Good Hope.

In the pe­riod of Yusuf’s im­pris­on­ment at the Cape, the

Dutch had es­tab­lished a firm mil­i­tary con­trol over both the Cape and In­done­sia with the lat­ter cen­tered around Batavia. While there is con­sid­er­able schol­ar­ship about the his­tory of the mis­named “Malay” com­mu­nity and the devel­op­ment of the Afrikaans lan­guage, the cur­rent flavour of African na­tion­al­ist nar­ra­tives pay scant at­ten­tion to this im­por­tant pe­riod in South Africa’s tor­tured his­tory.

A sig­nif­i­cant case in point was the past week in the ha­rass­ment of the del­e­ga­tion of King Khoi as they de­scended on Pretoria’s Union Build­ings af­ter a long and ar­du­ous walk across the coun­try to state their first peo­ple’s claim to land.

Cer­tain el­e­ments from the EFF who were bussed in to the Union Build­ings were adamant about bul­ly­ing them into show­ing proof of their claims. Land is­sues are con­tested and emo­tional all over the world and nei­ther In­done­sia nor South Africa are im­mune to di­verse claims. The resur­gence of the Khoisan in want­ing to as­sert its le­git­i­mate claim to be counted in the her­itage of strug­gle also has a demon­stra­ble link with In­done­sia.

Progress in the 21st cen­tury and the age of the Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion de­mands that we open our eyes and hearts to each other and the na­tions around us. Vis­it­ing In­done­sia has shown that dis­tance is not a bar­rier to work­ing to­gether for progress and mu­tual pros­per­ity.

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