You never heard Soenting Melajoe before? Well, many people don’t. I think it was about five years ago, I first heard about Soenting Melajoe. I read it in Jurnal Perempuan, a feminist journal in Indonesia. They published a book about Roehana Koedoes. Well, here is a short story about her.
Roehana Koedoes is the first woman journalist Indonesia ever had. She was born Siti Roehana Koeddoes on December 20th, 1884 at Kotogadang, Bukittinggi, West Sumatera. She is older sister of Sutan Sjahrir (different mother). Culture and religion had forbid young woman to get education, including her. She had a homeschooling education and she was able to read and write with the training from her father and tutor. Her father encouraged and helped her to study and to teach girls in their neighbourhood.
She was married to Abdul Koeddoes, a close-family. After her marriage, she set up vocational school called Kerajinan Amai Setia (KAS). All of her doing was not without obstacles. Some parents thought that Roehana has mislead their daughter from female duties such marriage and domestic care. But she was keep going on her track.
Writing is a hobby she enjoy. She inspired to found a newspaper. She was then write to Datuk Sutan Maharadja, who owned a newspaper Oetoesan Melajoe, for her idea. On July 10, 1912 together with Ratna Djoewita, she established Soenting Melajoe, the first newspaper for women which mean ‘Women at Malay Land’. She became the first woman in newspaper in Indonesia. The newspaper was short lived and closed down on 1921.
On 1917, she found Roehana School at Bukittinggi for girls and boys. She died at the age of 88 year-old on August 1972 in Jakarta. She still writing until the age of 60. I don’t think many people know about her role. At present, women who get into the media are ubiqitous but once it was rare. When we speak about media, we talk about public space and flow of information. This is where I find it interesting. By naming my blog the same as the first newspaper for women in Indonesia, I want to bring out the awareness.
At present, a road in West Sumatera is named after her, Rohana Kudus Street. In case you visited Padang, West Sumatera please come to this street as there are number of food and souvenirs stalls. One of them is called Rohana Kudus (again). It sales various chips and snacks, I can mention some of them: keripik kentang, serondeng teri pedas, serondeng ebi, karak kaliang, keripik keju, kacang tojin, kerupuk jangek, rakik maco, rendang daging, rendang paru, dendeng balado, keripik pisang, dakak-dakak, and others. I like Padang foods and snacks. You should try it.
With a road dedicated with her name, no doubt that Roehana works had contribute something important to her native land and people. She is a pride to her people. Women could look up to her for inspiration. She had paving the way for young women to learn, understand, and disseminate knowledge through mass media. Soenting Melajoe has been revived, at least in this blog.
Jakarta, February 23, 2008
From various sources: