Muhammad Fadli and Fatris MF: Song from Another Land
Muhammad FADLI is a photographer and photo editor based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Born and raised in West Sumatra, Fadli relocated to the Indonesian capital almost a decade ago to pursue his career as a photographer, focusing on documentary and portrait photography. His personal long-term projects reflect his affection for themes such as history, culture, and social issues.
Fatris MF is a researcher and freelance writer interested in philology and folklore. From his travels to many parts of the Indonesian archipelago, he has published three books: Merobek Sumatra (2015), Kabar dari Timur (2018), and Lara Tawa Nusantara (2019) –– which explore various themes such as history, environmental issues, and the clash between cultures and modernity.
In 1621, thousands of Bandanese were cruelly slaughtered by the Dutch under the command of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, an officer of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). It was the first genocide by Europeans of the local population in the East Indies. The reason was to monopolise the spice trade, specifically nutmeg. Some of the islanders who survived were taken to Batavia (now Jakarta) to become slaves; others escaped to the southeastern islands of the Moluccas, including Kei Besar. In Banda Eli, on Kei Besar, descendants of survivors still live to this day. They continue to speak and sing in Turwandan, the indigenous Bandanese language which is no longer spoken at its place of origin.
This short documentary is part of The Banda Journal, a collaborative documentary by photographer Muhammad Fadli and writer Fatris MF. The multi-year project started at the end of 2014 and chronicles the aftermath of the centuries-long colonisation and exploitation of Banda, a remote archipelago of ten small islands which rarely appear on maps. Banda was one of the earliest testing grounds of European brutal imperialism, forced-labour, and slavery which later gave way to a globalised economy and the rise of capitalism.