Meeting Some Young Diplomats. Pt. 2

Meeting Some Young Diplomats. Pt. 2

For those of you who are confused why this part is in English, it’s because the conversations I had there was in English, so, I will rewrite this in English too.

Oke, kecuali sedikit bagian dimana aku akan bicara dalam Bahasa Indonesia.

During the 1 hour ++ period where we were allowed to have a private conversation with these diplomats, I talked to 3 of them, and passively took part in one of them.

Nigerian Diplomat

My meeting with Akang (yes, I’m inputting sundanese here) Muhammad started because of the museum’s head of administrations help. Mr. Prima felt a bit guilty for taking away my front seat a while ago when Ms. Marsudi, our foreign minister visited the museum. So, I’m thankful for his help.

I wanted to ask a question that I’ve been planning to ask for all day, but I always got… outsped by other people in our fellowship and chats, so, I just asked this question to Akang Muhammad here.

I also felt that Nigeria is a country that is much-much similar to Indonesia in the terms of ethnic groups (the topic I’m about to ask) because there are… I have no exact number at the time, but well, more than 100, so a lot.

My question to him was this…

Indonesia has a lot, of Ethnic groups, and many cultures. It’s a large country, and I sometimes feel a bit bad for the other cultures and places that when someone mentions Indonesia, people would immediately think of “Bali, Rendang, Batik.” If I’m not mistaken, Nigeria too has a lot of ethnic groups, is there any attempted solution for now? and if there isn’t, what’s really caused the problem here?

Kang Muhammad asked me another question before answering it wholly… “Well, Nigeria has nearly 200 ethnic groups, with a population of 180 million, give or take, and if I’m not mistaken, Indonesia has around, 350 ethnic groups, with 250 million population, is that right?”

At first I wasn’t quite sure to answer with a yes or a no, I don’t want to give a wrong information. But, at the moment, as thoughts sped around my head, I knew that, if a Nigerian somehow knows about my country, it’s a good thing right? So, I try to remember a bit, and I said, “I’m not really sure, but yes, we have a lot of ethnic groups, and more than 200 million people populate Indonesia…”

He nodded, then continued. “Well, we’re facing the same problems here…” He paused a bit, and Googled something on his phone, he spoke deep in his African accent… “Tell me, which of these tribes do you think of as Nigeria?”

I wasn’t sure… I suck at geography, and well, my international history isn’t that good either, sure, I can tell you about Einstein’s personal life, or Alan Turing’s personal life, but… Well, I suck at history in general. So, I just pointed to one I’ve heard or read about, somewhere, the Yoruba Tribe. (fun fact: Dele Alli, Tottenham’s young Midfielder, and the Premier League’s rising star [kinda rising, he’s well known now], is the son of the Yoruban Tribe’s eldest prince, so, be sure to call him Prince Dele… Wait, no, don’t…)

“Yes, that’s our largest tribe indeed…” I just thought something like, where on earth did I hear that? But, well, I was relieved I wouldn’t be ashamed of pointing something else.

He continued by saying this… “Now, I’m sure that the both of us here, we’d want to have every tribe and ethnic group to be known by the world right?” I nodded, saying a short “Yeah”, waiting for him to continue. “I personally don’t think it’s possible, firstly, some people don’t really think of Indonesia as people from Bandung, Jakartans, and so on…” he stopped, and asked, “Is that right?”

I chuckled a bit, saying that “People who live in Bandung are Sundanese, people who originate from Jakarta are usually Batavian, and people from Bali is… Well, Balinese”.

As he continued, I just listened, enjoying his African accent… “Now, people who don’t live in the mentioned countries don’t see neither Indonesia nor Nigeria as the tribes that live in it… They just see the country, and they correlate it as such.” He stopped, rejecting a call from his phone, then he continued… “Well, most people come to Indonesia and think of Bali, and its beaches, well, it’s also partially because of media.”

I thought about this as he continued, it’s always the frame, the media shows what they want to show, and the media being a business, they want something that can generate money…

“The international media shows the showstoppers, they show what people from around the world wants to know. People who got a glimpse of Indonesia visit Bali, because that’s what the international media shown, then, people visit Bali…” I nodded, agreeing to this. “That’s why it’s important to give as many glimpses of your smaller cultures whenever international media is there. Show the world what you want to show…”

So, simply from this talk alone, I learned about manipulating the frame, so the media doesn’t completely frame it. The media shows what they want to show. Proper media, at least not the hoax-making, click-bait slave media… they show what people want to see, or show it entirely. But it’s still up to the people that is reported by the media to show what they want to show.

We talked a whole lot more, well, not a whole lot actually, about 15 minutes. He showed me his selfie with our Foreign Minister, he showed me some Nigerian clothing on his phone, and, he asked me about my club.

I talked about Global Literacy, and he asked me about some literature, those I’ve read at least, and well, he told me a few books that was written by Nigerian authors.

I mentioned about Nigeria and their Scrabble federation, and he just laughed, saying that when people get bored, they find something to do. We just gotta hope they found something useful to do.

Hey, what is our country #1 (on the top) again… hang on, let me google that… Oh shucks… Mobile Legends. 50% of the total Mobile Legends players come from Indonesia… Ah well.

Nigeria is pretty good in Soccer as well, with John Obi Mikel, and Alex Iwobi coming from there…

One can’t only hope that Indonesia would grow to be a better country, one that loves its culture as well. One must act…

Anyways, I rolled in to the next Junior Diplomat… One from Guyana. I had the most fun talking to him.

Guyanese Diplomat

Around the edge of the room I saw the Guyanese diplomat, just standing in the corner, hoping for someone to come by his face and talk to him. But well, no one did anyways… So, I decided to take initiative and I stepped up and talked to him.

Based on what I heard from him during the public discussion, it’s that he’s from Guyana, he’s a sports promoter, and he’s also a substitute for the Guyanese National Cricketing team. Apparently the Guyanese cricketing team is pretty large, so he’s gotta be pretty good if he can make it as a substitute.

I’m not that much of a sports fan, and I also don’t keep up with the sporting stuff they do nowadays… But fortunately enough, I do some soccer homework every year when the transfer market opens, and I google stuff, so when my father (who is a huge Liverpool fan) mentions a new player, or puts on some Soccer on TV, I won’t get too confused.

I missed this homework last year and I had no clue who Mohamed Salah was until Bubi saw him on TV during a big match and she said, “Who’s that? He looks good”

Well, I wanted to talk to him about many of hiss appealing details. Number 1 was his height… He’s like, very tall, almost 10 centimeters taller than me, and I’m not short as well, but he is an athlete, so no surprise there.

Then I moved to see what’s in his collar. There is a pin of the Guyanese national flag there, so I asked him a question about it… Well, here’s how the conversation between me and Akang… actually every single person who came there forgot his name (yes, I asked all 30 SMKAA members who came there, and none remembered his name). Myself included…

It was a rather African sounding name, and trust me, it’s not an easy name to remember. With names like Justin, Muhammad, Sheila, Miguel and Tomo there, his name was very easy to forget. I remembered 9 out of 10 names, except his…

  • Me: Nice pin you got there…
  • Oh this, you know what this is?
  • Me: Well, I think that’s an easy question, it’s the Guyanese National Flag…
  • Have you seen our flag before?
  • Me: No I haven’t
  • Well, that’s good, now you know our flag. Hahah
  • Me: Did you wear that because you want to, or…
  • No, actually I am wearing this because Guyanese diplomats need to stand out.
  • Me: *in my head* That’s cool…
  • Me: So, it’s there because you have to wear that?
  • It’s not wrong, but it’s there, because it is a piece of our country that we bring with us everywhere. It’s also a piece of our identity.
  • Me: Ah, I see…
  • There are currently 3 countries whose name sounds like Guyana, and trust me, people forget us all the time. So our foreign minister makes it a must for us to differ our identity with others, through this pin, and the way we speak English.
  • Me: Reminds me a bit of Slovenia and Slovakia… 2 countries where people mix each one with…
  • Guyana, Ghana, and Guinea, most people mix all 3 of those all the time. Lucky enough, they have very different flags, so we decided to wear our flag everywhere.
  • Me: I wish that Indonesians would be proud of themselves…
  • You know, you could give the museum a suggestion for their employees and guides to wear a flag of Indonesia. Tourists who visit Bandung visit the Museum a lot…
  • Me: That’s actually a good idea…

Then, we talked a bit more about sports.

Honestly, I haven’t talked that much about soccer since I was in fourth grade 7 years ago.

It all started with the question, “So, you’re a sports promoter?”

He said yes, and he also played Cricket and Football for the Guyanese national team. Both of them as a substitute, but honestly, just being able to make it onto the national team is an achievement in itself. Rabiot didn’t play any games at all for France last world cup, but he still took the Glory when they won.

His job is simply to travel around the world, and whisper the names of Guyanese players to scouts for many clubs. So, a sports promoter is basically Varys…

It’s not his job to scout out players, but more like, enticing the scouts to come there and possibly recruit players.

He then mentioned, it’s because of Sports Promoters that a team can know who is Mohamed Salah, who is Didier Drogba, and so on.

With the name of Didier Drogba mentioned, I thought a bit of players in the Premiere League nowadays… And, I shared a flash of inspiration…

It just came to me that Liverpool’s main forwards are Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, and the both of them are players from Africa. Naby Keita becoming an addition, also added up onto the already long list of African (and Asian, since this is the Asian African Museum after all 😉 ) players in the Premiere League.

He then said, there’s a better example as to why Sports Promoters are necessary in African and Asian countries. Take a look at France, winning the last world cup…

They had many African players who are given the same opportunity with European players to get the same tactics and ideas that European players had. France won the world cup with Mbappe, Pogba, and Umtiti becoming powerful forces in their arsenal. All of them are of African descent, whilst still getting the techniques and tactics of European footballers.

He said that if these Africans were given a chance to experience the tactics and strategies of European football, maybe they would be better than European players.

With Mbappe mentioned, I thought to say how fast and how athletic he is. He said that there’s a huge chance Mbappe will be a legend one day, he’s not even 22 (full age of physical development) yet, and he is already showing really great signs of his skills.

And now, in present time I’m mourning my memory loss for not remembering his name… But remembering the names of 9 other diplomats.

I then mentioned the premiere league when he asked me about my favorite Premiere League team.

I told him I actually haven’t watched a premiere league game for the last… 3 to 4 years… But I also told him my father’s a Liverpool fan, and I’m liking Liverpool too. He on the other hand is a Chelsea fan, because of none other than Didier Drogba.

At 2004, perhaps, he was 12 or 13 at the time, he started watching Soccer and Drogba helped won the Premiere League for Chelsea. Being colored, and I think one of the most skilled African players in his prime, he liked Chelsea.

That’s a rather respectable reason to me.

When I told him that my family liked Liverpool, he then said to me that Naby Keita, was discovered partially because of one of his mentor’s helped.

At first I thought Keita was Guyanese, but he wasn’t… He’s from Guinea and NOT Guyana. Maybe this mentor of his was at Guinea, looking to promote some Guyanese talents when he met Keita and helped Leipzig purchase the Midfielder.

We moved on to tourism somehow, after that Naby Keita talk and Guyana Guinea confusion… I asked him how he related to Indonesia… Like, what’s his first memory when someone mentions Indonesia, and he said… Bali.

Well, no surprise there, but here’s some of the more… disappointing parts.

Not long when I discussed tourism, he told me that Guyana has the largest single drop Waterfall, and he’s really proud of it. He showed me a google search of Guyanese Tourist destinations and apart from waterfalls, and some rainforests for those wanting to hike or swim near a waterfall… There isn’t much. (I didn’t tell him that_

I then thought and talked to him, about Indonesia.

We have dozens of things to be proud of, we have Bali, we have Rote Ndao, (he asked me what it was, I told him it’s the Indonesian island that is closest to Australia) we have Raja Ampat, we have Bromo, we have the only Observatory in South East Asia, and so on…

But, I don’t know, why aren’t we proud of it? I mean, to be honest, having the largest single drop waterfall is a rather specific situation to meet. From far away it’ll look nice on pictures, but, seriously, jumping off there is borderline suicide… But… we have something less specific, we are the largest bunch of islands in the world… Has any Indonesian mentioned that to tourists? I don’t know…

Well, eventually, like most people working in foreign ministry, most of their works are… international, and he got a call he’s got to take, so I moved on to the Japanese diplomat for the last 7 minutes.

The topic wasn’t much though…

Japanese Diplomat

Akang Tomo was nice.

He spoke to me in Indonesian, and myself already knowing that he’s Japanese instead spoke to him in English… it was reflex.

Me, an Indonesian spoke to a Japanese in English, while he speaks to me in Indonesian… thumbs up 🙂

EDIT: A friend of mine who saw this said that I speak in English when she spoke to me in Bahasa… At least I slip a bit of English in some of my phrases…

We spoke of nothing important, I commented on his shirt with cheese patterns and a 3 dimensional mouse coming out of the sleeve, he said to me that when you visit Tokyo, if you like shirts like these, you have to go to a store that sells these kinds of shirts. They’re informal shirts.

And you have to know, I loveeeeee wearing shirts, especially the informal ones.

Overall, the 7 minute conversation we had was… funny.

  • We talked about Japanese Shirts in two different languages.
  • I kept telling him I’m trying so hard to speak Bahasa with him (though I said that in English)
  • He tried to speak Bahasa with me so I speak Bahasa to him, we both laughed since I can’t stop speaking English.
  • I was rather embarrassed of myself, but he told me to not worry, it’s not rare that Indonesians who knows he can speak Indonesian, ended up speaking to him in English.


We should be more proud of ourselves…

It really is that simple.

We sometimes envy others too much that we forget that we have something others admire… Hence, we’re not proud of what we have.

We should appreciate what we have, and we shouldn’t let envy and impatience take over.

That’s all from me today, goodbye!

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