In this documentary we travel to Indonesia, the Sulawesi island, there we know the Toraja and Bajau, two ethnic groups who have a very particular culture and traditions. There, we attended a Toraja funeral, an event that they have become an amazing ritual of several days. We dive into the wonderful world that lies behind the coral reef that runs through large part of the Indonesian archipelago. And finally we boarded on the Bajau (sea gypsies) houseboats who live in even closer contact with the sea. In fact, they could not conceive of life without it.
At dusk, the boats that have been out hunting come together again. These apparently fragile floating houses are made of wood from the Api tree, and are incredibly resistant, able to withstand an entire lifetime on the sea. There is virtually no space in which to move, so much so that the people have stunted legs. The kitchen is in the stern, in the middle the bedrooms and the larder, and in the prow the living room. Though it would seem impossible, an entire family of five members can live on a single boat. They may have very little living space, but the world that surrounds them is in constant change and movement, is open and free.
When a child comes into the world, its father throws it into the water to initiate it into this marine environment. At four years old, the child already knows how to manoeuvre the leppa, and by the time they are seven they know all the fishing techniques. They live in such close contact with the sea that when they are born they are given names that describe the surroundings at the time of their birth. Here we find names such as ‘bird alighting on a palm trees that has fallen into the water’, ‘three black clouds in the sky’; or ‘eastern storm with strong winds’.
The day is coming to an end in the calm waters of the gulf of Tomini , it is time for the Bajau to take their boats alongside the mangrove swamps, where they will be protected.
These nomads of the sea, like the immense majority of traditional communities on this earth, are facing immense, profound changes. Little by little, they are disappearing in silence, and with them centuries of wisdom, forged and practiced over time.
There is a Bajau saying that reads: “ We conserve only what we love, we love only what we understand, and we understand only what we have been taught.”