Protector of Rampi Tradition, Paulus Sigi : We are safe because of our traditional laws

Paulus Sigi, 53, is a true representative of the Rampi tribe: relaxed, courteous and modest. As protector of the Rampi tradition, he has deep insight into his tribe’s customs and traditions, and a broad understanding of the outside world. He is still related by blood to the Tokoi Tongko, or the previous Protector of rampi Tradition.

Paulus Sigi

Ever since he took on his job two years ago, Sigi has had to harmonize the Rampi tradition-which was handed down through the generations—with today’s conditions. Tempo met Sigi during a recent visit to the Rampi community. What difficulties does he face in convincing people that traditional laws are worth keeping in this modern world? Excerpts:

How did the Rampi customary laws come into being?

The laws or traditional rules implemented by the people of six villages within the Rampi district is the legacy of our forefathers. Every member of our traditional community is in possession of notes on the regulations, the violations and penalties.

What is the cultural philosophy of the Rampi tribe?

To maintain nature’s balance. Our daily needs rely heavily on nature. We ensure that the forests are preserved, animals do not become extinct and the environment is always protected so that dry spells, mudslides and natural disasters are prevented.

What has been the impact of technology and outside information on the Rampi community?

We hear about developments outside the village from our television, radio and our cellphones. These new technologies have influenced our life patterns. For example, the younger generation now interact more freely. Yet, not too long ago, siblings could not even live under one roof.

So, what can be done to overcome this problem?

We continue to enforce the traditional laws. We also train our children in deeper religious knowledge and  we  regularly remind parents to teach their children the traditional laws in their every-day lives.

Has there ever been a time when traditional laws clash with state laws over a problem?

The majority of the people at Rampi still choose to settle problems the traditional way. Special cases like murder, are processed not only according the customary law but also the law in Masamba, capital of North Luwu district.

Do you think the traditional law is still relevant today?

All of our traditional laws are still applicable and the proof of that is that our people continue to live in safety. The environment and nature are still protected. Besides our laws are not inflexible particularly with regards to penalties. If some one is punished, the heads, local officials, the perpetrators and the party which lost out, will negotiate (a solution) together.

So far, these has been no law enforcers posted at Rampi sub-district. What will happen if member of the police is assigned to this area?

I think conflicts can be prevented so long as the traditional institutions and the law enforcers work together. We have tried to harmonize traditional and state laws, but the results have not been totally effective because there is no apparatus. I think the traditional laws. As such, the people will think twice before breaking any law. (by Irmawati,  Majalah Tempo English Edition, February 20-26, 2012. Outreach)

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