The Gulbenkian Prize Awarded to Apai Janggut

Bandi Anak Ragae, also known as Apai Janggut.

Bandi Anak Ragae, also known as Apai Janggut, residing in Sungai Utik, Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan has once again set an international record. 

Angela Merkel awarded Apai Janggut the Gulbenkian Prize for his achievements in environmental protection in West Kalimantan, along with a prize of 1 million euros. 

The Gulbenkian Prize awarded to Apai Janggut

The Gulbenkian Prize awarded to Apai Janggut reaffirms that the Dayak people are part of the universe, academically referred to as a microcosm. 

Since time immemorial, the Dayak people have lived and died within a sustainable environment.

This remarkable recognition represents a global acknowledgment that the Dayak people have been stewards and guardians of the Borneo forest and land since ancient times, now, and forever.

This environmental champion continues to capture the world's attention, especially among activists, environmentalists, and environmental observers.

A traditional community leader from Sungai Utik

At the Gulbenkian Awards ceremony, Angela Merkel, the jury chair, emerged after presenting the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity to Bandi "Apai Janggut," a traditional community leader from Sungai Utik, Kapuas Hulu, Indonesia. He is positioned second from the left.

As can be seen in the picture below on Apai Janggut's right is Cécile Bibiane Ndjebet, an activist and agronomist from Cameroon, third from the right, and Brazilian environmental activist Lélia Wanick Salgado, second from the right, at the ceremony held at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon on Wednesday, July 19, 2023.

The 1 million euro prize money was awarded to the environmental activist and Iban figure. This extraordinary amount and unparalleled global recognition signify a tremendous achievement.

Apai Janggut (second from the left of Angela Merkel) receiving the Gulbenkian Prize.

Apai Janggut received this award for his outstanding contributions to global climate protection and benefiting humanity worldwide.

Prior to this, Apai Janggut had received the Equator Prize. The Gulbenkian Prize aims to strengthen the role and importance of such contributions.

It is truly extraordinary and prideful for all of us that Bandi Anak Ragae has surpassed 143 other participants from 40 extraordinary countries.

Wisdom from Apai Janggut about nature

If we enter the longhouse in Sungai Utik, on the wall of Apai Janggut's room, there are inscribed wise words from him as follows:

Kami tidak meminta lebih dan tidak mau kurang Selama masih ada hasil makanan dan obat-obatan di hutan, Ikan masih berenang di sungai dan padi masih tumbuh di sawah. Inilah keberlanjutan. — Apai Janggut

We ask for no more and want no less, As long as there are natural resources and medicines in the forest, Fish still swim in the river, and rice still grows in the fields. This is sustainability.

— Apai Janggut

In other words, Apai Janggut reminds us, "We are part of nature, not its owners. Our life and well-being depend on the balance we maintain together with nature. Never forget that the forest and rivers are the lifeblood of our existence. By taking care of nature, we take care of ourselves and leave a legacy for future generations. With nature, we harmonize towards eternal sustainability."

Sungai Utik as Apai Janggut Nature Academy

On a peaceful night in his room resembling a fallen Eden Garden on earth.The bearded man tells Bujang Raong about the construction process of the Rumah Betang (long house). Betang Sei Utik stands tall and has a total of 28 rooms. Some individual houses were also built separately from Rumah Betang.

The construction of Rumah Betang was done manually, and the imprints of large hands are clearly visible on its pillars. Apai Janggut reveals that carrying beams measuring 10 x 10 meters for 24 meters from the forest requires at least four people. However, only a few have the strength to do it alone, including Apai Janggut, renowned for his strength. Why is that? Because this is a legacy from Apai's grandfather, who comes from the Keling Kumang lineage and has deep knowledge of his ancestry up to the present day, as the seventh generation of Keling.

The construction of Rumah Betang took seven years

The construction of Rumah Betang took seven years, starting from the collection of initial materials, says Apai. According to him, current Rumah Betang construction often neglects traditions, and many build it like any other commercial building.

A Rumah Betang should be suspended at least one meter above the ground and should not directly touch the ground. Although many young people enjoy living in Rumah Betang, they lack the knowledge and skills to build it properly, and there are important taboos that must be followed.

An important taboo for the elders is the prohibition of washing with soap. In addition, drinking water must come from an unreboiled river, remaining pure and natural. This is a legacy from Keling, who also once served as an elder, as explained by Apai.

The principles of life in Rumah Betang (long house)

The principles of life in Rumah Betang must always be preserved.

When starting a new activity, it is important to first find a dream. If the dream is good, it can be continued, but if it turns out to be bad, it is better to stop.

The same goes for opening land because we are all one family of Keling descendants, with ancestors, grandparents, and relatives, so conflicts must be avoided.

We are all brothers

It is important to manage the forest and natural resources properly to ensure sustainability and avoid land use for oil palm plantations or logging. This legacy will be passed on to future generations, and consensus always prevails.

"We are all brothers," says Apai Janggut.

In the example Apai gives, when there was a request from Ulak Pauk village regarding land up to the Sei Utik village boundary, they agreed to give half a kilometer wide and along its length.

Even if there is still rice on their plates, they will share, especially if everyone is hungry.

Apai tells all this with enthusiasm, and Bujang Raong listens attentively.

Apai Janggut's natural intelligence

Today, intelligence is not just a measure of intellectual intelligence (IQ) according to Simon-Binet. Many other dimensions support or are needed for success.

With the discovery and development of knowledge, IQ is no longer solely associated with a person's level of intellect.

No more questions are needed. The world has recognized Apai Janggut's natural intelligence that is above average, even extraordinary.

We not only have to preserve and protect but also integrate the universe into our lives. (Masri Sareb Putra)

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