Category Archives: Cultural

Betawi: A Blended Culture

The word “Betawi” is etymologically derived from the word “Batavia”, the Jakarta’s Dutch colonial name. Betawi people are the descendants of the people living around Batavia from around the 17th century. Betawi people during colonial times were a product of a melting pot of immigrants and mixed marriages involving people from Javanese, Sundanese (West Java), Melayu (Malays), Makassar, Ambonese, Bugis tribes, Chinese, Indian, and European.

Local immigrants from other areas in Indonesia mostly brought to Batavia in the 17th century as slaves to the Dutch Colonials. On the other hand, European, Arab, Chinese and Indian men came to Indonesia to trade or work and then proceeded to marry local women. In the 19th century, people in what was to be Jakarta began to refer to themselves as “Betawi” children. Betawi people live between two enormous cultures: Sundanese and Javanese, but they have their own culture and language.

The Betawi language is a Malay-based creole language. It is closely linked to Malay. Betawi vocabulary has large amount of Hokkien Chinese such as the first-person pronoun gue (I or me) and second-person pronoun lu (you) and numerals such as cepek (a hundred), gopek (five hundred), and seceng (a thousand), Arabic such as ente (you) and ane (me), and Dutch loanwords. Nowadays, Betawi dialect is a popular informal language in Indonesia and used as the base of Indonesian accent.

Betawi people are mostly muslims. Islam teachings, culture and traditions are easily found in their culture and social system. They are led by Ulama or Kyai (a local religious leader) in their society. However, there is also a small community of Christian Betawi in Tugu area, Kampung Sawah, and Depok.

The artform of the Betawi people exhibits the influences from many different cultures. The Ondel-ondel (a large bamboo masked-puppet) is similar to Chinese, Balinese and Sundanese artform of masked dance. The traditional wedding dress of Betawi shows Chinese influence in bride’s costume and Arabian influences in groom’s costume. The Gambang kromong and Tanjidor music orchestra have Chinese influence. The betawi’s tradition for the groom to bring roti buaya (crocodile bread) for the bride during wedding ceremony is probably a European tradition. They have also Pencak Silat as a popular martial art of Betawi people.

Betawi people have several popular traditional cuisines such as kerak telor (a glutinous rice cake cooked with egg and served with shredded coconut and a dried shrimp topping), soto betawi (beef entrail soup with diced tomatoes and slices of fried potato) and asinan Jakarta (pickled vegetables). Betawi cuisine is mostly influenced by Peranakan Cuisine of Chinese Indonesian, Malay cuisine, Sundanese and Javanese cuisine.

Creating a Culture of Success

Why is a company culture so important?

I was reading a book call The World is Flat and the author was discussing the importance of a country’s culture in making changes in adapting to changes in the world’s economy. He was referring to a country’s culture as:

o How well the country adapted to change

o How open the country are to other nationalities

o Their willingness the country is to embracing change

o How each country valued education

o How easy each country was to do business with

o How well each country’s political systems responded to change

Being a small business coach I could not help notice how relevant creating a culture is to the success of a business.

Before we go further we must define what culture means. Culture can be defined as the way a company defines and captures what’s important to ensure a company’s success. After the culture is defined, storing that knowledge so it can be passed down to future generation (new employees) takes on a whole new meaning. We can begin to understand why defining and implementing a corporate culture is so important.

Some things to consider when defining the type of culture you want to create would include:

o How do you and how much do you empower your employees to make decisions?

o Do you delegate and what do you delegate?

o How open you are to accepting input for others (employees, clients, suppliers) and how do you act on that information?

o What types of employees do you want to hire (the best and the brightest or people who are expected to leave their heads at home?)

o What are the values you want to embrace and promote to your customers, employees and suppliers (fairness, honesty or just meet the numbers?)

o What kinds of behaviors do you want to measure and reinforce (behaviors that create long term relationships or just make the sale and move to the next opportunity?)

Many companies do not give much attention to their corporate culture. It just evolves through the people they hire. It is usually driven by the attitude and behaviors or the company president and is passed along unconsciously.

When you take the time to define and create your corporate culture you are telling others what kinds of people will flourish in your company; it tells tell the market the companies you want to business with, it defines the behaviors that will be accepted in your organization.

Creating a specific company culture is just as important to the success of an organization as a sound business plan. In fact, the definition of how you want your corporate culture to perform should be a part of your business plan.

Of all the companies I studied, the most successful in the long term, were very clear in what their corporate culture would look like and they took action to see that is was implemented.