The Lematang are a people group who mostly live along the banks of the Lematang River and the surrounding area, stretching from Lahat Regency to Muara Enim Regency. The land where the Lematang people live is located about 25-100 meters above sea level.
The Lematang dialect is part of the Musi language which also includes the Pegagan, Musi, Palembang, and Belide. The Lematang dialect is similar to the Enim dialect.
In the city of Muara Enim, where the Enim River and the Lematang River meet, it is very difficult to distinguish between the Lematang and the Enim. There, the two groups have largely assimilated. A person living in Muara Enim could be considered both Enim and Lematang.
What are their lives like?
The relationship between the Lematang and outsiders is usually fairly amicable. However, the Lematang consider the characteristic of arrogance to be a major social barrier. The Lematang have an expression: “Do not marry an arrogant person.” Arrogance is largely measured by the quality of a person’s relationships. They are also happy to pacify outsiders who come to their area by saying that their area is safe. This demonstrates that the Lematang are open to a relationship with anyone, but value politeness and respect.
Cultivation of rubber trees is the primary livelihood for the Lematang people. Those who live near the river also make their living through wet rice cultivation.
One interesting characteristic of the Lematang is that they are usually more diligent in work when they live outside of their own area. Lematang people who live outside their own area might sell cassava leaves, fruit, and do other small jobs to generate a small income. These livelihoods are outside of what Lematang people typically do in their own area.
What are their beliefs?
Lematang people are followers of Islam. Animistic beliefs are still held by the Lematang as well.
Almost every year someone drowns in the Lematang or Muara Enim Rivers and is found a few days later. The Lematang believe that these drownings are caused by a spiritual being which takes the form of a white crocodile and lives in the river.
What are their needs?
Tourism could be developed as an industry along the Lematang River, which is a beautiful area, especially in the upper parts of the river between Pagar Alam and Lahat. This is one way the economic level of the Lematang community could be raised.