In 1984, Yoel Abraham Wakaburi (50) was inspired to unite different tribes occupying their homeland at Bintuni Strait, West Papua. Initially, the obstacles were different languages spoken and tribal ego. Armed with his skill as field officer of agriculture, he succeeded in uniting tribal heads to sit together for discussion.
The invitation of a man commonly called Bapa Bram was positively responded. A year later, Wamesa, Kuri, Irarutu, Sumuri, Sebyar, Sough and Moskona’s tribal chiefs were willing to sit together at rumah adat(local house) Teluk Bintuni Communities Talk Organisation.
These tribal leaders of Bintuni District, Babo, Merde and Aranday all have similar concern on the deprived condition of local communities despite the rich natural resources area they live in.
Mining and forest resources in the area are constantly excavated; however, local communities do not reap the reward. Almost all revenues from these natural resources went to Manokwari as regency administrative centre.
Therefore in 1992, long before the autonomy euphoria in Papua or even in Indonesia, they agreed to request detachment from Manokwari Regency administrative. Abraham Wakaburi who is now the coordinator of seven (indigenous) tribes in Teluk Bintuni, was the one reading this request in front of Manokwari Regent, Mulyono.
“Our aim was to improve the welfare of Teluk Bintuni communities from their own natural resources. We hope our initial aim will continue to guide the journey of Teluk Bintuni province which is four years old on 9 June 2007,” hoped Bram.
Announcement read by Bram Wakaburi snowballed and gained momentum. The struggle finally showed result by the implementation of LawNumber 6 Year 2002 on expansion of 14 provinces in Papua to include Teluk Bintuni.
What did Bapa Bram gain from this? He confessed that neither money nor title was given. For 22 years, he has worked as civil servant. He started as Agriculture Field Advisor and now he is in IID group. His job title now is Section Head of Production at Agricultural Department of Teluk Bintuni.
He remains humble. Bram lives in a house he’s been trying to renovate for the past 10 years. It’s located on Bintuni main road, even sharing a garden with Teluk Bintuni Communities Organisation.
For his transportation, everyday he uses his official motorbike given in 1999. using this old bike, Bram confessed of having covered Bintuni-Manokwari (distance of 250 km through forest, river and mud) 34 times.
Still, Bram said that the local government’s appreciation in a placard written Pioneer of Teluk Bintuni’s Expantion has made him very happy. The placard was given to him on 9 June 2007 in conjunction with the Fourth Anniversary of Teluk Bintuni Province.
“It was my Fiftieth birthday gift. I wish for nothing but the welfare of people in Bintuni,” he said.
Bram Wakaburi is of Wamesa tribe. He was born on 8 June 1997 in Idoor, one of the 10 districts in Teluk Bintuni. He graduate Yayasan Pendidikan Kristen Elementary School Bintuni in 1972, then continued to Bintuni Junior High.
He then studied at Manokwari High School. After graduated in 1980. Bram was positioned as Field Officer at Oransbari District.
Four years later, in 1984, he was assigned to his birth land Bintuni and was appointed civil servant. In his hometown, he found his other half, Frederika Manibui, born on 15 June 1985. They have been married for 22 years and have six male children and two female children.
Frederika Manibui considers her husband as a very busy man. “He is always busy. He’ll be at home one minute then he’ll be somewhere else the next. He has lots of activities,” said Frederika.
As coordinator of seven tribes, Bram is responsible to mediate any argument personally or tribally between indigenous Papua and settlers from Bugis, Makassar, Buton, Jawa, Toraja and Sanger. He has a principle that no argument should shed any blood. It can be negotiated by sitting together to find the solution at rumah adat
His close relationship with local communities has prompted anthropologists from University of Gajah Mada and Airlangga to involve him in the research of Teluk Bintuni’s indigenous people in 1997.
Source: Ekspedisi Tanah Papua: Laporan Jurnalistik Kompas, Jakarta November 2008 (free translation)