Introduction / History
The Larike-Wakasihu live in the villages of Larike, Wakasihu, Tapi, Lai, and Allang on the western side of Ambon. These villages are located in the district of Leihitu, in Central Maluku Regency, in the province of Maluku. In 1999, the provinces of North Maluku and Maluku were created from the province of Maluku. The Maluku Islands, historically called the Spice Islands, are a string of over one thousand islands scattered over the eastern portion of Indonesia. They include most of the islands between Sulawesi and New Guinea and between Timor and the Philippines.In the past Larike-Wakasihu communities occupied a larger area, but their influence is declining. In the neighboring Allang valley, only the elderly people still understand the Larike-Wakasihu language. There are three settlements of the closely related Allang people who live in the western parts of the neighboring island of Seram, but they no longer speak the Larike-Wakasihu language.
What are their lives like?
The villages of Larike, Wakasihu, and Allang are serviced by ships that ferry passengers to the city of Ambon every day. The trip takes about three hours. Overland roads to Larike and Allang have recently been built. At present, transportation is also available in the form of minibuses and Damri (government public bus) that connect the district with the central city. In the past, the Larike-Wakasihu were generally friendly and respectful to newcomers. However, recent troubles in the area have created a climate of suspicion and distrust through Ambon and other Maluku islands. The main form of work for the Larike-Wakasihu people is generally farming. The mainstay commodities are cloves and nutmeg, along with other plants that are cultivated in the traditional way. The Larike-Wakasihu are located at the center of fishing for the region. Their strategic location near the coast has potential for future development. However, efforts in managing fishing labor have not proceeded well because large parts of the income are directed to religious activities such as going on the Haj (Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca). The husband and wife generally work together, whether in farming or fishing. Typically, fishing involves the whole family. Usually the father and sons catch the fish, and the mother and daughters later process the catch.
What are their beliefs?
The Larike-Wakasihu are Muslims. As such, they believe they will be judged based on their knowledge of the Qur'an (Islamic Holy Book), as well as what they did with their lives. The Asilulu have syncretized Islam with their traditional beliefs. They mix traditional cultural practices and Islamic teachings in many of their events, such as weddings, circumcisions, royal inaugurations, and building of mosques (mesjid).
What are their needs?
In recent years, outside provocateurs have sparked a deadly cycle of violence and revenge between various groups on Ambon. Education has been severely curtailed as buildings are damaged and burned, with teachers afraid to teach, and parents afraid to send their children to school. Other public institutions face the same problems, including markets, hospitals, and places of worship. Peace, order, and restoration of the shattered island are desperately needed.
Text source: Copyright © PJRN - Indonesian National Research Network. Used with permission.