Nicolas Tanggahma, a hero of Mbaham Matta

Bapak Nicolas Tanggahma, a hero of Mbaham Matta, one of the Founding Fathers of West Papua

Today, I dedicate these words to you, the Most Excellent Bapak Nicolaas Tanggahma, member of the New Guinea Council (Nieuw-Guinea Raad). For you, 5 April 1961 must have been a grand day as the Dutch government installed the New Guinea Council, a first step that would pave the way for the Independence of the People of West Papua.

Your principles were the very rock upon which you based your struggle for an INDEPENDENT West Papua, principles which are anchored in our heart and soul as people of West Papua, as sons and daughters of Baham Matta. We truly believe that our fate and destiny is to be a free and independent People, a Nation under God.
But soon after that installation, you saw things were not going as expected. Along with three other colleagues, you called a meeting. Thanks to that initiative, after that important meeting which took place on 19 October 1961, seventeen (17) people were elected to form the Komite Nasional Papua (Papuan National Committee). The Komite Nasional Papua immediately issued the famous Political Manifesto which asked to the Dutch colonizers, that:

"a) our flag be hoisted beside the Netherlands flag;
b) our national anthem ("Hai Tanahku Papua") be sung and played in addition to the Netherlands national anthem;
c) our country bear the name of Papua Barat (West Papua), and
d) our people be called: the Papuan people�.

And on 1 December 1961, it happened: it was the birth of a Nation under God, the Nation of WEST PAPUA!


But most importantly, Bapak Nico, this is what the Manifesto stated, and this is what the people of WEST PAPUA are stating today still:

�In view of the foregoing, we, Papuans, demand our own position, equal to that of the free nations and in the ranks of these nations, we, Papuans, wish to live in peace and to contribute to the maintenance of world peace.�



INDEPENDENCE, from the very beginning up until today, it has always been about DEMANDING that our right to be an independent nation be respected by all.

But you saw it all slip away, year after year. No words can describe your disappointment as time and again, Papuans were excluded from the decision-making process on issues that concerned their very future.  You wished your ideals were the same as others: for you, integration within Indonesia was just not an option. So along with your colleagues, you sent protest telegrams, petitions, and resolutions to those in Washington, Jakarta, and The Hague who were determining the fate of the people of West Papua.

By 1962, just like your other colleagues, you were offered a one-way plane ticket to Holland, where you would be safe from Indonesian harassment because of your struggle for independence. But you said NO. If we, the leaders leave our people, WHO will lead them? You knew you would die, you knew, but for the sake of your people, you decided to stay. You sacrificed your life for your people. Your spouse, my dear Auntie Maggie became a widow for our people, my father never saw you again, for our people. Everything for your people.


Bapak Nicolaas Tanggahma, you were a great leader who saw the urgency in situations, but you knew how human emotions could get a hold of people and you knew the importance of timing when a situation became desperate. According to records, in relation to the plebiscite that was to be held in 1969, you said:

�We must give Indonesia no chance to destroy our aspirations. Jakarta would get the opportunity if Papuans were disruptive. Therefore I will urge people to maintain law and order. Papuans must strengthen themselves in order to sustain and preserve their nationalist sentiments until the plebiscite. To this end Papuans must organize themselves in large parties with the same objective: Independence in 1969.�

You, like no other, knew we could not depend on anyone but ourselves. We could not depend on the United Nations, and that is why you urged our people to �organize themselves in large parties with the same objective: Independence in 1969�.  That is the true definition of INDEPENDENCE, a People that fights for its freedom and its survival, by its own means; a people that does not depend on anyone else but itself.

And then, on that day when the UN General Assembly decided to just ignore the voices of the people of West Papua, you listened to the results of the vote in New York� On that same day, you heard about the Apollo landing, the first man on the moon� it was not tears of happiness that rolled down your eyes.  As Mother was getting ready to leave for Holland, you told her: ask my little brother what is happening out there and please, tell him to go on fighting from outside, from abroad.

Bapak Nico, you were from Angkatan 1961, the ones who gave birth to the Nation of West Papua.

In Holland, your junior brother, Ben Tanggahma went on with the struggle. He was from Angkatan 1971, the ones who went on with the struggle (He was Foreign Affairs Minister of the then existing revolutionary government, which was based on the 1 July 1971 Proclamation).

But today it is you that I celebrate, Bapak Nicolaas Tanggahma, one of the FOUNDING FATHERS of the Nation of West Papua.  Your ideals of Papuan independence are still standing strong and your strong principles of leadership are still being followed by some of the young leaders today, as they decide to stay with the people IN the country, as they decide to fight alongside their people, instead of leaving abroad where it could be safer for them.

Thank you for everything you have done for us, thank you for inspiring us. May your spirit remain with us, so that we can achieve victory for the sake of the people of West Papua, for the sake of the Land of West Papua. Please be an inspiration to the young generation of Baham Matta, and may there be leaders like you again, inspired by your principles of true leadership, and the sang froid that is so needed to control emotions and timing to achieve our purpose.

God bless West Papua ! 
 Sumber :Leonie Tanggahma
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