8 January 2008


Abdul Rozak Tanjung


When I was studying at primary school in 1987 and a couple years after, my grandfather used to tell me much about Ismail Banda Tandjung—a founding father of Indonesians’ Alwashliyah and was the Indonesian Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran. What was made me unwilling to hear the story was the fact that my grandfather was a nothing man. Economically he was not a rich man, educationally was not a scholar and just graduated from a primary school as well as physically he was not a handsome man like a soldier or other professional ones that I used to admire.
However, I still remember when he ever said that I had to be a successful man like Ismail Banda and had to study hard eventhough my father was a nothing man like him. When motivating me at the time, he told me that he ever met with the late Ismail Banda in 1960s when he had a special journey to visit some relatives in Medan. Ismail Banda at the time told him about his journeys to Egypt, to Iran on somewhere else.

What was interested me by the story is the fact that Ismail used to departure by flight wherever he went to everywhere in the word. By my grandfather’s meeting with Ismail, he knew much about Ismail Banda’s father and ancestors when they started talking about “Tarombo”--the way of finding relative’s tree, ancestors as well as legacy. He proudly showed me his picture with Ismail and directly said his youngest son name, Ismail Banda, derived from his strongly admire to the late Ismail Banda. Even though he used to tell me about the late Ismail Banda, I felt unbelief if I could be achieving a career like late Ismail Banda.

Approximately twelve years after my grandfather passed away, I almost never heard about Ismail Banda’s story anymore. My father himself unfortunately never told me also about Ismail Banda. My father as a peasant—not yet a farmer—never told me also about his experiences when he was a kid and teenager. However, when I reached little bit prestigious achievement as a student of the year starting from Grade 2 of primary school until Grade 3 of junior high school and Islamic Pesantren, a prominent people at my village ever said that I had a same talent to late Ismail Banda. His salutation to me was not given me a strong motivation to be a successful man like Ismail.

Having a chance to enter North Sumatra University in Medan in 1999, I also got a prestigious title as a university student of the year. I was awarded some scholarship during my study at the university. These awards gave me commitment to study hard, opening my mind to finding the “big story of Ismail Banda”.I asked H. Baharuddin Tandjung--who was living at Simpang Limun of Medan, more about Ismail Banda. He told me the same stories to my late grandfather’s and unfortunately he told me that the only one of Ismail Banda’s daughter had just passed away. I closed my mind looking for Ismail Banda’s big story.

When I was at the last semester of my study at the university, I bravely sent the letter to Dr. Jaafar Thani in Malaysia who I knew from my uncle at my village. By the letter, I asked Dr. Jaafar of the possibility of entering master program at one of the universities there. I got the replying from Dr Jaafar that he was not a political student like me and he kindly could look for the possibilities entering university there.A few months after he replyied my letter, I meet him for the first time at my village when he attended a ceremony for opening mosque there which was built throught his donation.

I saw his appearance strongly different to my old-generation relatives at the village. He was seemingly wealthy and healthy—the symbol of his prosperity and good economic condition. By my meeting with him, he re-told about Ismail Banda and asked me to come to visit Malaysia. He traced back the story of his study at Malaya University in Singapore and said that Mahathir Mohammad-Malaysia Prime Minister was his university mate. He also explained me about his father way to Malaysia and told me his closer family living at the village. My father’s grandfather is amongst of he said. Even thought I believed he could give me some money to enter Malaysia and for studying there, I never asked him of financial supports to avoid misunderstanding of him. I was not a person like the most who do not reluctant asking some financial supports to new guest visiting them. Up to 2007, I have met Dr. Jaafar four times.

Having lack of money and finacial condition a few months after graduated from university, I decided not to come to Malaysia even though I knew my relatives there could give me some facilities, special welcome and financial supports. My dream came true when I have worked at some national and international organizations. I proudly could come to Malaysia by flight and cover all of transportation and immigration cost with myself. I stayed in Mr. Jaafar office and was full-served during my time there. His son—Nazib Jaafar- accompanied me during my time in Kuala Lumpur.

I was proud of his sons' full service and ashamed of myself that couldn’t give him such the services whenever he came to Indonesia. Even thought they are wealthy and I am not wealthy enough, I showed that they accepted me as their close relative. They treated me as their treatments to Khairudin Tanjung—my cousin living at their house and working at their company there.
(To be continued)