Introduction / History
The Lematang (or Lemantang) people’s homeland extends from the city of Lahat in the regency of Lahat until the area of Lematang llir Ogan Tengah in the regency of Muara Enim. Bordered by the areas of the Kikim and Enim peoples, it runs along the full length of the Lematang River near the cities of Muara Enim, Prabumulih, and Gelumbang. It also includes the region of the tributaries of the Rawas River near the cities of Bingintelok and Terusan. The Lematang River, also called Sungai Orang Kaya (Rich Man’s River), is South Sumatera’s largest producer of “river rock,” which is used for foundation material in building. The Lematang area includes the districts of Gunung Magang, Muara Enim, and Merapi. Merapi District has 37 villages, including Muara Lawai, Gedung Agung, Banjarsari, Kota Agung, Tanjung Baru, and Arahan. The Lematang originated from Banten people who immigrated at the time of the ancient Majapahit Kingdom.
What are their lives like?
In general, the Lematang people work on farms and plantations. Their main crops include coffee, rubber, palm oil, and other permanent crops. They own large expanses of farmland, so there are no shortages of work opportunities.The Lematang people are very hospitable and friendly when welcoming newcomers. They have a strong sense of community togetherness proven by their adherence to gotong royong (neighborhood mutual service and assistance), not only to the Lematang community itself but also to outside communities. Lematang homes are raised on stilts with roofs resembling pyramids. The front of the house has a sitting area (pance) facing the main road. This porch is for relaxing with family members and visitors.Regarding marriage, the Lematang people have two main customs. First, the prospective groom will become a full-fledged member of the bride’s family with all wedding expenses born by her family. Second, the new couple may leave their in-laws in order to seek work elsewhere, but they still have a responsibility to provide for the parents’ eventual retirement needs.Inheritance is granted to the daughters causing many of the sons to set off for other areas to earn their living. When an outsider marries one of the Lematang, it must be in a Muslim ceremony. After such a wedding, however, they are given freedom to embrace another religion and still be accepted as family members, but not as Lematang community members.
What are their beliefs?
The Lematang people currently embrace Islam, yet still hold to ancient beliefs concerning magic and mystical powers. In matters of belief, they are of the opinion that all religions are equally valuable. In matters of traditional customs, their customs are similar to Lahat and Muara Enim customs
What are their needs?
At this time, the need of the Lematang people is the development of human resources. These needs are in the field of education and also in intellectual development in order to meet the challenges of the modern age, which is filled with fierce competition. In the area of education, many Lematang children are not schooled. Thus a program of donor-sponsored students needs to be instituted.
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