A few “bules” have made headlines in Indonesia recently for their songs about our country, such as Norwegian citizen Audun Kvitland Røstad, who wrote a touching song about his love affair with nasi padang. The latest such song to get the spotlight comes from Australian university student Sally Andrews and it shows not just her appreciation for Indonesia but also her keen understanding of its language and history.
Andrews’ song, titled “Presiden Soekarno”, is an epic rap ballad about Indonesia’s first president and founding father, tracing his biography in lyrical form. It won the Wild Card Category in the 2016 National Australia Indonesia Language Awards for best original performance in Bahasa Indonesia by a non-native speaker and has since become a hit in Indonesia.
If the song sounds familiar to you, then you are probably familiar with the Broadway hit musical “Hamilton”, about one of America’s founding fathers. Andrews’ song is a loving homage to the song “Alexander Hamilton” from that highly-acclaimed musical, but her ability to transpose it into Indonesian and transform it into an ode to the legendary Soekarno shows she has serious language and lyrical skills.
Andrews is a graduate student of law at the University of Sydney and an Indonesia Fellow currently studying at Universitas Islam Indonesia through the Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) Business, Law and Society Program.
In an interview with Australia Plus, Andrews said part of the song’s message is about the importance of education: “Education is one of the ways to achieve the goals that Soekarno set out. Reading and writing every day and every night, studying in order to understand issues more deeply.”
The National Australia Indonesia Language Awards (NAILA) is a not-for-profit that aims to encourage the study of Bahasa Indonesia through a speech competitions. They recently wrapped up their 2016 competition and you can check out the videos of the winners from different categories on their Youtube channel.