What’s the point of being knowledgable
If only used to deceive
What’s the point of having read many books
If you never break the silence
(an excerpt from “What’s the point”, a poem by Wiji Thukul*)
Original version (Indonesian):
Apa gunanya punya ilmu tinggi
Kalau hanya untuk mengibuli
Apa gunanya banyak baca buku
Kalau mulut kau bungkam melulu
(nukilan dari “Apa guna”, puisi oleh Wiji Thukul)
Written by someone who never went to college, this message rings true especially to some of us who enjoyed privileged access to higher education.
The message also brings a validation for some of us, who have already begun to break the silence of the night and found the calling to speak is often marred with agony.
We must speak. With all knowledge and privileges we have, we must speak. We must speak to break the betrayal of our own silences. We must speak.
Today, August 26th, is the birthday of Wiji Thukul, an Indonesian poet and an activist who went missing in 1998 during the period of protests that led to the fall of the New Order regime. His poems are political, often critical of the Indonesian government (under Suharto) and the social conditions of the country. It’s suspected that he’s one of many anti-government protesters abducted by government forces.
Happy Birthday Wiji Thukul!
Thank you for your bravery and your unwavering quest for freedom and justice.