The bombing attack on two leading Jakarta hotels on July 17, 2009, also resulted in the cancellation of a friendly exhibition match between the world-renowned Manchester United and a team of Indonesian All-Stars. That cancellation surely pleased the suicidal “kill-joys” behind the heinous attacks in Jakarta, who view any form of enjoyment and international fellowship as offensive to their twisted interpretation of one of the world’s great religions. Equally certain, however, is that the cancellation disappointed tens of thousands of maniacal “MU” Indonesian fans prepared to descend on Jakarta’s main stadium to see their favorite soccer stars in action.
Those who live in Indonesia know the small cells who kill and maim in the name of religion, are isolated from the mainstream of Indonesian society that embrace a religion whose very name means “peace.”
Budi Bermain Bola
In these dark days following the Jakarta bombings, solace and consolation can suddenly present itself in unusual places. In this instance, a soothing balm emanated from the world of sports – a place where achievement and excellence make a mockery of the fear and loathing which forms the mainstay of fanatical terrorism.
This story of human redemption begins in the weeks leading up to the scheduled MU match in Jakarta when a good-humored television campaign promoting the sporting event was featured regularly on national TV. In those advertisements a group of MU stars sat in a classrooms receiving a tutorial in Bahasa Indonesia – the lingua franca of the Indonesian people. Taught by a comely Indonesian lady teacher, the soccer champs were drilled in how to say “Budi main bola” which, roughly translated, means “Budi plays soccer.”
Within days of the tragic Jakarta bombings and the cancellation of the MU Match, billboards suddenly appeared across Indonesia, including downtown Jakarta and in Bali, with a message that was certain to raise a smile on the troubled faces of Indonesians humiliated and deeply troubled by the recent senseless brutality of a few of their fellow countrymen. That billboard, shown here, carries the simple message of “Budi, teruslah bermain bola” presented against a solid black background.
Freely translated as “Budi, keep on playing soccer”, the billboards simply and beautifully capture the quiet resolve and determination of the Indonesian nation to carry on and live their lives as a people of equal standing in a world community dedicated to international cooperation, freedom of religion and political democracy.
The Jakarta billboard can also be seen as a somewhat more sophisticated expression of sentiment expressed on T-shirts sold in small shops across Bali containing a certain four-letter expletive in front of the word “terrorists.”
The message displayed on billboards and on the Bali T-shirts reflects a common view held by the overwhelming majority of Indonesians who reject a fringe ideology that depicts democracy as evil and tries to impose its narrow views of religious morality on every sector of society.
Obviously, we like the billboards in question very much. In fact, we’ve even had our picture taken standing in front of one wearing our Bali anti-terrorist T-shirt. When its sponsors decide its time to replace the billboard message, we vote for an equally simple presentation of the phrase “Sekali Merdeka, Tetap Merdeka”
That message, used to close the final news broadcasts each day on the State-owned television channel, proclaims “Once Free, Forever Free.”
We’re sure Budi would agree.
In the meantime, “Budi, teruslah bermain bola!”