The Boti Tribe in Nusa Tenggara Timur

The King of Boti and I on my visit to the Boti Village

By Ronney Manu

The Boti Tribe is located 40km from Soe in the South Central Timor (TTS) regency. One of the characteristics of the Boti Tribe is that they still strictly follow the tradition of their ancestors. One of the beliefs of the Boti tribe is the religion of Halaik, which is unique to the Timorese (Atoin Meto). It can be said that the Tribe of Boti is one that is separated from modern civilization and the development of the modern times. In addition to its remote geographical location being in the middle of the mountains, the Boti Tribe still preserves the culture of the people of Timor as a whole. The Boti Tribal governmental system is still a kingdom, which is ruled by its Usif (King), whose surname is Benu. Usif Benu plays an important role for the Boti Tribe as a spiritual leader. This does not mean that the people of Boti greatly respect the Usif. In 2005, when Usif Nune Benu passed away, the Boti community mourned for three years. During those three years, the Boti did not hold a single customary event. Nama Benu (Nama is a name)

 

The tribe of Boti highly appreciates and respects nature, realising that their daily life is very dependent on nature. One such example is the Boti woven fabric, which uses yarn made from cotton and dyes obtained from plants in the environment. That’s why there are no modern technology in the area, as it will damage the purity of the nature that they have been maintaining for so long. The tribe of Boti also has a strict regulations. The marriage system is monogamy, where a man can only have one wife, and that a married man is not allowed to cut their hair, and instead will have to tie their hair into a bun. Multiple children in a Boti Tribe family are divided in half, where half of them are allowed to attend school, while the other half are not. It is intended so that the customs, beliefs, and traditions of the Boti tribe continue to be preserved and held, with the aim to create a balance between the present life and the life based on the customs and traditions of the Boti Tribe ancestors.

 

The Boti tribe still uses Dawan as a colloquial language so many of the tribespeople cannot speak Indonesian, however this is not a major barrier for anyone who wants to visit there. The Boti community is very open with everyone who wants to visit and enjoy their life there. Since a few years ago, the Boti Tribe is often visited by tourists locally and abroad. Currently, the government of TTS has established the Boti Tribe as a historical and cultural tourist destination that constantly maintains its authenticity and simplicity. The existence of the Boti Tribe is a selfsustaining note of how the Dawan community maintains, runs, and preserves the values and culture passed down from their ancestors, and has become a distinctive colour for us who now live in this modern world.