Celebrate! A Mollo celebration of art and food

Celebrate! A Mollo celebration of art and food

Within Timor’s Mollo highlands, vital water, trees, and rocks — as well as their loyal guardian clans flourish. Lakoat.Kujawas is a way to rekindle the love for the region through artistic expression and food.


“We, Orang Mollo, are a people of gatherings,” says Christianto “Dicky” Senda. “We call our gatherings “elaf.”. It’s an opportunity for people to get together and listen to spoken word, stories as well as genealogies.”

Elafcame to life in front of my eyes, in full as the Indonesian celebration of Independence Day, where, with the blessing of the state, North Mollo residents dressed as traditional and performed dances and songs at an event for performers at Kapan Square, the district’s central point.

However, a second celebration was happening with a photography exhibition of 11-15-year-olds as well as the launch of a collection of poems written by To The Lighthouse, a writing club that is part of Kapan’s St. Joseph Freinademetz Catholic Middle School. Amidst a flowering tree next to fire, an young choir sang.

“These teenagers are making contributions to this village,” father Jeremias “Romo Jimmy” Kewohon who is the head of St Yoseph, with pride. He attributes this resurgence of creativity of pupils with the help of Lakoat.Kujawas, a Timorese literacy center and social enterprise established by Dicky.

Presently, Lakoat.Kujawas also welcomes travellers to visit this region of South Central Timor, in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province.


Then, the adults who have lost touch with their Elafjoined in. In collaboration with local schools and young people in communities of creativity, Lakoat.Kujawas now brings back the art of living into daily activities in Orang Mollo (Bahasa Indonesia for the Mollo people) as well as recording the events for future generations.

A Mollo philosophy

It is known as “the heart of Timor,” North Mollo’s Mount Mutis is the source of four important Timorese rivers, and is home to numerous ecosystems, including bonsai forests with eucalyptus forests, meadows that are grazed by horses.

Experiences of travel to Mollo weren’t in the thoughts of Dicky when he founded Lakoat.Kujawas. The business venture into tourismthat focuses on the trails of the past as well as culinary products and fragiletextiles occurred in response to the public’s appreciation of his community’s resurgence in creativity.

So, every month, from January through the month of August Lakoat.Kujawas is the operator of M’nahat’s Fe’u’s Heritage Trail. They is a guided tour that introduces visitors to the natural beauty of North Mollo’s landscape as well as its culture and food.

M’nahat Fe’u which translates to “new food” in Dawan language is an elaf harvest. the elaf which is a trip that differs based on the harvest time of the season.

I was fortunate enough to be a part of the final tour of this year that began with a tasty breakfast cooked by Lakoat.Kujawas members Black beans, yams steamed and coconut made sweetened by the syrup of palm sugar, as well as a pumpkin cake with Marmalade. It was accompanied by coffee (including an intense blend of pumpkin seeds) and sweet, fruity cascara tea made of the husks of coffee cherries and the loquat leaf tea.

This tour’s guide the tour guide is Willy Oematan, who takes us to Oematan’s wellsprings and introduces native plants and rituals on the way. The Oematans are respected Mollo clan, traditionally recognized as protectors of water sources, and their rituals transmitted through strict protocols.

We then went to Napjam Rock, where Lakoat.Kujawas members were making jagung bose maize porridge as well as broadbean stew in front of bonfires. Banana leaves transformed into picnic blankets, set with tray-like palm leaves and claypots of Timorese dishes like Smoked meat ( se’i) and sweet-spicy chili-tomato relish ( sambal lu’at) and baked purple cassava leaves, yams cooked with roasted pumpkinseed sauce and a stir-fry of vegetable flowers.

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