Introduction / History
The Konjo people cluster consists of two groups: the Konjo Pegunungan (mountain group) and the Konjo Pesisir (coastal group) in the South Sulawesi province. As their name states, the Konjo Pegunungan ("of the mountains") primarily live in the mountainous region of Konjo, in the districts of Tinggi Moncong, Gowa, Sinjai and Bone in the Bulukumba regency of South Sulawesi. The Kalimporo and Jannaya regions constitute the central Konjo region, which is still tied to the old Tana Toa area and other Konjo villages. They use the Konjo language which is part of the Makassar language family and is similar to other South Sulawesi languages.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The majority of the Konjo Pegunungan people live as farmers. A crop dividing system is extremely common in this area. This means that the farm workers receive one-half to one-third of the profits, depending on who paid for the seed and planting needs. The average farmer owns two to three hectares of land, usually of irrigated rice fields and/or unirrigated agricultural fields. Peanuts and tobacco are the main agricultural crop grown for trading purposes. Gotong royong is a pattern of mutual cooperation that is often used by the Konjo Pegunungan. These mutually cooperative activities include such things as building houses, preparing for parties and harvesting crops. Everything that is done is noted and reciprocity is expected when needed. Hospitality and social interaction are strongly emphasized by the Konjo Pegunungan. If a Konjo Pegunungan person passes by someone he knows and is not greeted, he will become offended. Offense can also be taken if the person does not stay involved in the conversation. Business transactions are done in the midst of much talking and chatting. The Konjo Pegunungan are used to indirect answers and will even lie at times to avoid an unsuitable answer. The Konjo Pegunungan welcome guests and newcomers. They ask a lot of questions concerning the outside world and carefully study new things. They seem ready to receive some changes, such as tools or other things that are beneficial for them, but traditional customs and beliefs are very resistant to change. Their motto is: "kami tidak akan membuang peraturan adat." (We will never throw out our traditional way of life). Even in ceremonies, newly introduced ideas can be welcome additions to the old ways, but will never replace them.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Although the Konjo Pegunungan people have embraced Islam, most of them maintain animistic practices. Even the most devout Muslim among them fears the spirits. When there is conflict between the teachings of Islam and their traditional beliefs, the traditional practices win out. Because of their focus on the Qur'an, most of the children learn to read it. Any ceremony is considered incomplete without a reading from the Qur'an.
What Are Their Needs?
Currently the Konjo Pegunungan need assistance in implementing better irrigation to increase crop yield. In addition, their commercial agricultural enterprises need improved management. Most Konjo Pegunungan have a positive attitude toward education, but only a few of them finish middle school or above. This means many teachers and schools are still needed in the homeland of the Konjo Pegunungan.
Scripture Prayers for the Konjo, Highland in Indonesia.
Used with permission