Tolaki, Konawe in Indonesia

Joshua Project has identified the Tolaki, Konawe only in Indonesia





Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The Tolaki live in several districts in the regencies of Kendari and Kolaka in the southeast province of Sulawesi. They make up one of the largest people groups in Southeast Sulawesi. Historically the two most important kingdoms were the Mekongga kingdom on the west coast and the Konawe kingdom in the east. The Tolaki language is part of a larger linguistic grouping called the Western Bungku-Tolaki subfamily. Within this subfamily, Tolaki is closely related to the Waru, Rahambuu and Kodeoha languages. Tolaki has two principal dialects, Konawe and Mekongga and several smaller dialects including Wiwirano, Asera and Laiwui.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Tolaki are known for being very independent and having a simple lifestyle. Besides farming non-irrigated fields, the mainstay of this people group comes from the natural forest products found in the broad and varied Sulawesi forest in the region. Because of that, there is a phrase: "For the Tolaki, if you already have a house, sago and fish for the day, you've got enough!" In the developing city of Kendari, the identity of the Tolaki people group as the "man of the house" (the ones in charge) is still felt. The Lulo dance, which is a traditional Tolaki dance, highlights the unity and brotherhood which is easily felt in wedding celebrations or official ceremonies of area government. The physical appearance of the Tolaki is very similar to the Dayak in Kalimantan with white skin, slanted eyes and straight black hair. The Tolaki highly value peace and conflict avoidance which is illustrated in a rattan woven necklace called a kalosara. The kalosara with its lofty values and symbolic meaning, along with the gong and rice plant (which are symbols of wealth) have become iconic symbols of the city of Kendari and are seen throughout the region.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Generally speaking, the Tolaki are Muslim, but traditional animistic beliefs are very much alive. They continue to perform several religious ceremonies that reflect their ancestral animistic worldview, for example, the monohu khau (cutting of the rice) ceremony. The Christian Tolaki have redeemed this ceremony as a way to publically give thanks to God for a good harvest. Another ceremony (manahu udhan) is done in an open field for 3 nights in a row and is led by a dukun (shaman) which is also called a mbusehe (the name for a shaman in the local language). This is usually conducted in September, a night before and a night after the full moon. The only thing used to illuminate the proceedings is the light of the full moon. Then the attendees, usually Tolaki farmers, dance arm-in-arm around a makeshift structure that holds the drums and other musical instruments (a nilavaka). On the closing day, early in the morning, a ceremonial sacrifice of musehe is performed by the shaman. In addition, there is a ceremonial meal for seven days (meosambaki), as well as a mekui or mosere curu (cutting of hair for a seven month old baby), which is also called mee eni for children 15 year-old children.

What Are Their Needs?

The Tolaki who live in urban areas have an adequate standard of living. However, those living in the villages are isolated due to insufficient public transportation. Improved transportation infrastructure would help with the flow of goods and services into the remote Tolaki villages and improve their standard of living. It would also make it easier for people to take the message into their remote areas.

Profile Source:   IPN, 2011   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Tolaki, Konawe
People Name in Country Tolaki, Konawe
Population in Indonesia 328,000
World Population 328,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Kendari
Affinity Bloc Malay Peoples
People Cluster Bungku-Bajau
People Name General Tolaki, Konawe
Ethnic Code MSY44p
People ID 15540
Country Indonesia
Region Southeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 47  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Southeast Sulawesi, Konawe, South Konawe, Kolaka and North Kolaka districts. Mekongga in Mekongga Mountains, near west edge Soroako.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Tolaki: Konawe (328,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Tolaki: Konawe 328,000
For Primary Language: Tolaki

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (2000)
New Testament Yes   (2014)
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Jesus Film: view in Tolaki Film / Video
Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Islam

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.98 %)
2.00 %
Ethnic Religions
4.00 %
0.00 %
94.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
30.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
70.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: IPN   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Map Source: IPN   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: IPN, 2011   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

Copyright © 2015 Joshua Project.  A ministry of Frontier Ventures.