The Seit-Kaitetu people live along the north shore of the island of Ambon in the Maluku Islands. They live in and near the villages of Seit and Kaitetu in Central Maluku. Both villages can be reached by land or by sea. Because of the regional religious violence since 2000, public transport runs once daily to and from the city of Ambon.
The first mosque that was built on Ambon is in Kaitetu. It was built in 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 group called the West of Piru Bay which also includes the Asilulu, Larike Wakasihu and Luhu.
What are their lives like?
Socio-cultural and economic aspects of life are similar to surrounding people groups. 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, 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 Spanish mackerel. 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 also sell traditional products made from eggshell and mother of pearl. They use these materials to make jewelry, wall decorations, and other souvenirs.
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, and building mosques.
What are their needs?
Several years ago, outsiders stirred up horrible violence and caused a cycle of revenge between the peoples of Ambon. Ethnic conflicts and riots destroyed almost all buildings, including schools, homes, and places of worship. Unity is needed among the local leaders.