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Encouraging communities to fight forest and land fires through Indonesian music

Posted: Jun 04, 2021 3 minute read Beni Wijaya 0 Likes

Who doesn’t enjoy music? You may remember Bintang Kecil’ (the Indonesian version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars, my favourite childhood lullaby) sung by mothers. For me, it was more than 25 years ago, yet I can still recall the melody and lyrics. We seemed to be better at preserving memories from listening to music than reading textbooks, which more often than not made us sleepy and our mothers pinching our ears to wake us up.

Today, communities hold on to their local values and lessons through messages from music that linger in their memories. Do you remember this folk song about not letting fear get the better of us because our ancestors were brave sailors? (That’s why I loved Popeye so much as a kid!)

Music is a form of art that not only can be felt but also helps us understand the information in a simpler and accessible manner. This is the reason why many use music in their approaches to delivering messages, including our company in our campaign to fight forest and land fires.

Click here to listen to the jingle.

In March 2021, our Fire Prevention & Response Department launched the Fire Prevention Jingle using Malay and Dayakese ethnic music as an education medium. Ethnic music was chosen as the genre for this approach to gain wider acceptance with the communities and a way to preserve our nation’s heritage at the same time. I feel extremely blessed I could take part in the process of creating the jingle. I had the opportunity to work and interact with outstanding, young Indonesian artists for the first time.

I found out that delivering messages on forest and land fire prevention through lyrics, rhyme, and rhythm in a song is not a walk in the park. We researched and consulted with relevant communities and had to put together various ideas to make a song. Not only did we need to create a catchy tune with ethnic elements, but we also needed to convey educational messages people can easily understand and accept.

The sounds from a modern Malay musical instrument, the accordion, and a traditional Dayakese musical instrument, the sapeh, made an even more beautiful rhythm for the jingle. At first, I had my share of doubt if the composers could succeed in blending both modern and traditional musical instruments into perfect harmony. My doubt was put to rest when I listened to their work; it was so harmonious and melodious!

In Malay, “Mari kite jage keluarge kita dari asap dan kebakaran hutan” (Let’s protect our family from haze and forest fire) and in Dayakese, “Tanah to indae kitae” (The land is our mother, don’t let it burn carelessly) were the messages verbalised in the jingle by the representatives of the Malay and Dayakese communities. The Malay and Dayakese communities believe that irresponsible burning is harmful not only to themselves but also to others, their families, and the environment.

To ensure a wider distribution of the Fire Prevention Jingle in the communities, we engaged local radio stations in fire-prone areas where we operate as broadcasting partners. We worked with RRI Pekanbaru, Manusa FM Kalbar, Gema Ketapang FM Kalbar, and Gema Wana Prima FM Kaltim. They helped us reach out to the public in Riau, West Kalimantan, and East Kalimantan.

The jingle has inspired us to keep working creatively and innovatively in educating the public. Music can help us address the nation and pass on values and lessons from one generation to the next. Our ancestors gave us this song, “Nenek moyangku seorang pelaut yang tidak takut ombak” (Our ancestors were courageous sailors who braved the waves); why don’t we start sharing our song “Ayo-ayo kita cegah karhutla, sayangi keluarga dan sanak saudara” (Let’s fight forest and land fires, love our family and friends) now?

Learn more about our fire prevention efforts here.

About the writer:
Beni Wijaya is a Corporate Communications Executive in Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food’s Group Corporate Communications team. Since 2019, he was put in charge of the company’s Fire Prevention Campaign in collaboration with the Fire Prevention & Response Department. He loves to travel and enjoys good food.
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