The Enrekang are part of a larger linguistic group called the Masenrempulu which also includes the Duri, Maiwa, and Malimpung.
The Enrekang culture has been influenced by its more populous and more powerful neighbors, the Toraja and Bugis people. The Toraja and Bugis languages have influenced the Enrekang language. There are many similarities and a high degree of mutual intelligibility.
What are their lives like?
The primary means of livelihood for the Enrekang people is farming. Their main crops are rice, fruits, and gula aren (sap from the sugar palm tree made into a brown sugar). Rice is their staple food. They also raise domesticated livestock such as water buffalo, goats and chickens to meet their needs. Small scale farmers work the land using a share-cropping system.
Many Enrekang marriages are still arranged by the parents and family elders. For several years after their marriage, a new couple lives with the wife’s family. After they are established, the new family may move to live in their own house.
The traditional Enrekang house is raised on stilts that are three meters high. This is done for protection from wild animal attacks. Both the walls and floors of the house are made from wooden planks. The enclosure below the house can be used as a livestock stall or as a storehouse.
What are their beliefs?
Many Enrekang are devout Muslims. Thus they believe that they will be judged according to their knowledge of the Qur’an as well as the sum of their good deeds. The laws of traditional culture are still used and have been combined with Islamic law.
Despite their professed loyalty to Islam, many Enrekang are still influenced by traditional animistic beliefs and superstitions. These beliefs are focused on the quest for protection through magic, by either appeasing or controlling both good and bad spirits.
Burial ceremonies are still performed inside caves in the mountain slopes. Those accompanying the body must climb tall, steep mountainsides. The ceremony’s purpose is to free the spirit of the deceased and give the spirit power to move to the next world.
What are their needs?
Several of the farmers in South Sulawesi do not have sufficient farmland. They work the land of rich landowners, who then take a large percentage of the crop. Farming in the Enrekang area is considered to be less than promising. As a result many Enrekang people leave the area to work as laborers in the cities and towns throughout Sulawesi and other parts of Indonesia. A greater range of jobs would help alleviate unemployment problems.