Who are the Semendo?

SemendoThe Semendo are also often called Semende or Jeme Semendo. The Semendo live in the South Sumatra and Lampung provinces. The Semendo language is similar to Besemah and Lintang dialects, except that the Semendo tend to use /e/ at the end of words.

What are their lives like?

Most Semendo have been farmers for generations. Their fertile farmland lies approximately 900 meters above sea level. There are two main crops produced, rice and Robusta coffee. Semendo is one of the primary rice-producing areas for South Sumatra. There are approximately 5,000 hectares of productive rice fields planted and harvested each year.

The customs and culture of the area are greatly influenced by Islam. The rebana (tambourine) music, local songs, and local forms of dance are all strongly influenced by Islamic Malay culture. Semendo culture is more likely to give priority and authority to women than men.

The Semendo kinship system is matrilineal (mother’s line). Related to this, there is a custom called tunggu tubang from the word tunggu, (to wait), and tubang, (piece of bamboo, dried and covered). Tubang are always placed in the kitchen to store salty fish, terasi (shrimp powder), and other ingredients. Since the tubang is always exposed to heat from the stove, it becomes stronger and stronger. Tubang are always identified with the home. Therefore, tunggu tubang means an attendant that is always in the home and continues to persevere despite many problems and difficulties. The tunggu tubang custom directs all of the parents’ inheritance to be given to the oldest daughter. Therefore there is no division of the inheritance amongst the children. Nonetheless, a daughter does not have absolute rights over this inheritance. She only has the right to tend, cultivate, and collect the yield from the land. The inheritance cannot be sold.

What are their beliefs?

The Semendo have been Muslims for generations. The teachings of Islam are firmly rooted and faithfully followed in their society, but they are also tolerant of people of other religions. There have been no religious conflicts in this area. Places of worship as well as Islamic schools are seen everywhere. The Islamic schools have the specific purpose of teaching Semendo children to spread Islamic teachings in the area.

What are their needs?

The Semendo need technical improvements in farmland management. Some Semendo need more rice seed to plant all their fields. There are already a few large enterprises, such as coffee mills and a model fishery. These projects need to be supported and expanded much more in order to raise the peoples’ standard of living.

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