When I red a book entitled Dewa Ruci: Pelayaran Pertama Menaklukkan Tujuh Samudra by Cornelis Kowaas. One of the chapters told about the glorious of Banda, Maluku. Marvelous! When I red this book, I just realized that in the past centuries, Banda was struggled by Netherlands and England. Indeed, “Banda’s enchantment” competed with New York which called New Amsterdam at the past time.
When Banda Island More Precious Than New York
Believe or not, rempah-rempah “spice” (nutmeg, clove, pepper) was the main factor which supported world’s developing movement. Based on ancient history recorded, spices had brought to Middle East for more than four thousand years ago through sea and land tracks. Then, it continued to the Middle East through the well-known silk road and come out to the mountain and desert.
Experts said that in the 2600 BC, Egyptian gave the spice that took from Asia to the laborer who built Pyramid in order to have extra power. According to archaeological sites recorded that Mesopotamia, now is Syria, had took the advantage of the spice from Maluku to home needed function. It seemed, spice made Aria who have high cultural level moved to India.
European people should pay more expensive to get the spice that controlled by Arabian trader. Therefore, European people attempted to find the sources that they say it located in the sacred island of bird paradise spot where the birds never flew away surround it but landed when they dead. This case occurred the desire to discover the source of spices.
The journey’s note from China to Asia by Marco Polo affected European people. This matter supported Columbus’ sailing to America. He named the people who have dark skin in the new continent as “Indian” and he also invented the red spicy fruits called red pepper. He thought that he has arrived in India.
When Portuguese found Maluku and Banda in 1512, this location became the contested area. According to Charles Corn (1998) in his book The Secret of Eden, that was the thing that supported the explorer to sail into somewhere to discover the way ahead to Indonesia. It was like Magellan to the west, Barrentz to the north and how many expeditions never recorded and lost.
Correctly, at that time, the spices were the commodity that more precious than gold. Metaphorically, Banda Island and Maluku at that time was like Arabian which now wealth with petroleum. Therefore, European people were already fought to dominate Banda.
In 17th century, when VOC finally dominated Banda Island and Maluku, they attempted to defend its hegemony. At the same time, England—which had built competitor company namely East Indies Company (EIC)—placed Run and Ai Island in clusters of Banda Island. This matter was really bothered VOC’s business. VOC did not want to share the Archipelago’s wealth of spices with competitor.
Netherlands, under J. P. Coen’s government, had burnt nutmeg trees in Run Island as Weir (2005) said in his book entitled History’s Worst Decisions: And the People who Made Them. At the same time, in the other side, Netherlands and England had fought for England which carried away New Amsterdam—the name for Manhattan Island in 1664.
After they were competing too long, Netherlands and England found the problem solving about ho Banda Island in 1667 would be own to. Based on Breda’s, the solution was that New Amsterdam belongs to England and Netherlands had own Banda Island. Indeed, England was never satisfied with the solution then requested to own another place (an area of sugar production in United States of America).
However, Netherlands rejected the request. Finally, England received New Amsterdam desperately and changed the name became New York. Who knows, right now New York became megapolitan city in the world.
In the end of the book, Kowaas wrote, “…Like Banda, Run, and Ai, Oh, hopefully the program of Banda Sailing 2010 could be bloomed back to many centuries ago like the fragrance of nutmeg flowers, clove flowers and of course the rhapsody of Tanah Ambon Manise “Sweetest Ambon Land…”.
Banda has its own story. Until now, Banda is still interesting. Years went by, I believe that Banda will have the position in the seeker’s deep of hearts.
By: Fitri Utami Ningrum
Kowaas, Cornelis. 2010. Dewa Ruci: Pelayaran Pertama Menaklukkan Tujuh Samudra (first published in 1965). Pages 236-237. Kompas Penerbit Buku: Jakarta.
Pala: www.dapurprima.com, 09-06-2015, 23:35:03