Introduction / History
The Seit-Kaitetu people live along the north shore of the island of Ambon, in and near the villages of Seit and Kaitetu, in Lehitu county of Central Maluku regency, in Maluku province. Both villages can be reached via land or by sea. Since the regional religious violence of 2000 and following, public transport runs once daily to and from the city of Ambon. The first mosque on the island of Ambon still stands in Kaitetu, having been built in the year 1414. The oldest church in Ambon was built in nearby Hila village in 1780. Sadly, the church building was destroyed in the religious violence. The Seit-Kaitetu people speak the two dialects of Seit and Kaitetu. The Seit-Kaitetu language is part of a larger linguistic grouping called the West of Piru Bay which also includes the Asilulu, Boano, Larike Wakasihu and Luhu.
What are their lives like?
Socio-cultural and economic aspects of life are generally similar to surrounding areas. The villages and surroundings are neat and well-ordered. The Seit-Kaitetu people's primary livelihood comes from farming and fishing. Typical crops include sago palm, cloves, nutmeg and coffee. Before leaving shore, fishermen usually pray to God for protection and blessing. Each catch is used first to meet daily needs, then the surplus is sold. Types of fish caught include tuna and others, such as (in local language) tangiri, momar, silapa, lalosi and kawali. Fish caught near Luhu, Iha-Kulur and Asilulu villages are usually sold to the village of Hitu or the city of Ambon. Seit-Kaitetu people seek to enhance their income by selling traditional products made from eggshell and mother of pearl. They use these materials to make jewelry like brooches, wall decorations and souvenirs of various shapes and sizes.
What are their beliefs?
Almost all Seit-Kaitetu people follow Islam. As Muslims they believe that all people will be judged according to their knowledge of the Qur'an and their deeds throughout their lives. Nevertheless, many are still reluctant to leave animistic tribal values and beliefs. They combine traditional elements and orthodox Islamic teaching in ceremonies for occasions such as weddings circumcisions, changing leaders and building mosques.
What are their needs?
Several years ago, provocateurs from outside the area stirred up horrible violence and a resulting cycle of revenge between the peoples of Ambon. Ethnic conflicts and riots destroyed almost all buildings, including schools, homes, markets and places of worship. Education has been sorely neglected because schools and other educational buildings have been destroyed and burned. Teachers are afraid to report for work and parents are afraid to send their children out to school. An environment of peace, orderliness and safety is urgently needed to rebuild this island which has been crushed. Also necessary are precautions for Seit-Kaitetu people in particular and the people of Maluku in general so they will not be easily provoked by provocateurs because it will harm themselves. Unity is needed among the chiefs and religious and local leaders.
Text source: Copyright © IPN, 2011. Used with permission.