The Bugis – were they pirates turned traders?

The Bugis – were they pirates

turned traders?

Schoolboy Ibrahim is a Bugis. His classmates taunted and annoyed him, saying he was a pirate. That happened after a lesson on the history of Bugis. Later, he himself learned that Bugis Street was well-known for its nightly parties of transwomen. And when he was already an adult, he found out that many people were still unsure who the Bugis were and where they came from.

“Seeing the lack of understanding of the Bugis community in Singapore, I took it upon myself to enlighten the public about the Bugis,” said Mr Ibrahim Arif, 71, author of “The Bugis in Singapore”.

Mr Ibrahim with the writer of this article who interviewed him on his book on the evening of 19 November (2017) at One KM. The second photo shows the front cover of Mr Ibrahim’s book.

The Bugis people is an ethnic group from South Sulawesi, the third largest island of Indonesia. In 1823, the Bugis population in Singapore totalled 1,851, the majority of them were traders and planters, according to Mr Ibrahim’s book.

Mr Ibrahim’s father, Ariff Bin Daing Mangati, was a Bugis from South Sulawesi while his Singapore-born mother was a Bugis descended from the Kalimantan Bugis community.

The 68-page book, published by the author in October 2017, is supported by the National Heritage Board. It was launched at the Malay Heritage Centre (MHC) or Taman Warisan Melayu on 14 October 2017.

The book launch, held in conjunction with the exhibition of Bugis artefacts from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, was officiated by Ibu Noor Lizah Nurdin, wife of the Riau Governor.

Mr Ibrahim, a freelance motivation speaker and event organiser and who has previously published “The Past Malay Entrepreneurs”, said: “The second objective of writing the Bugis book is to share the role of the Bugis in developing Singapore as a business hub and promoting Singapore to the world.”

Mr Ibrahim Ariff (in blue batik shirt), who organised the “Bazaar Kasih Sayang”, is standing beside Ms Tin Pei Ling, Member of Parliament in MacPherson SMC and Marine Parade GRC who officiated in the opening of the event in September last year (2016). The second photo shows Mr Ibrahim’s friends who were invited for the opening ceremony of the event.

The book supplements the current MHC exhibition, titled “Sirri na Pesse” (Honour and Pride) of the Bugis, which runs from October 14 to June 24 2018. The exhibition showcases more than 40 artefacts that relate to the history and culture of the Bugis people.

“Bugis” is famous in Singapore. There is a condominium called Kampong Bugis, a train station, Bugis MRT Station, a large mall, Bugis Junction, a shopping area in Bugis Street and a hotel named Village Hotel Bugis.

“The Bugis is a respected group of people and historically for centuries revered as fierce warriors in Southeast Asia,” says a reader of the article, “Were the Bugis really pirates? Here are 5 things we found out” by Mayo Martin at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/lifestyle/bugis-malay-heritage-centre-exhibition-9308398)

Mr Ibrahim’s book talks about everything to do with Bugis – culture, cuisine, diaspora, entrepreneurs, and a host of other topics, including, of course, the author’s own ancestry and lineage to the Bugis community.

Shaik Kadir
20 November 2017

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