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Manado (Dreamland Library) - Thabo Rapoo, a South African Native who became an Indonesian Cultural Ambassador
The fine arts and culture of Indonesia made Thabo Rapoo, a South African citizen, fall in love. Thabo was asked to become South Africa's first person as an ambassador for Indonesian culture.

PHYSICAL Thabo Rapoo is not much different from South African (South African) natives. Black skin, thin keriwil hair. About 170 cm tall. What distinguishes a Thabo is his innate personality and speech. Thabo's attitude is different from that of most young South Africans who look fierce.

"Good morning, I am Thabo," Thabo said in Indonesian while introducing himself to Jawa Pos at the Indonesian Embassy (Pretoria) in Pretoria, South Africa, last Friday (6/19). At first, we thought Thabo was a woman. Our reference is the story of the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Kingdom of Swaziland Sugeng Rahardjo.

He told me that the Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria sent native Indonesians to learn to dance and explore Indonesian arts and culture. However, we did not think that Thabo was a man. We only realized when we met directly with the 31-year-old man. "Thabo is now an ambassador of Indonesian culture. I hope through Thabo, we can promote Indonesia to South Africans, "Sugeng said in delivering the support of the Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria for the performance of Ken Arok, a dance produced by Thabo Rapoo, on the second floor of the Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria.

"He became the best young artist in his country. When interviewed by the media, the name Indonesia is often mentioned so that our country is increasingly known to the world, "he continued. Thabo became the first South African person to receive an arts and culture scholarship from the State Department. The story began in 2007 when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Directorate of Public Information offered cultural education scholarships to people of Indonesian descent in South Africa.

In 2008, the Department of Foreign Affairs expanded the offer by offering South Africans who were considered to be able to disseminate the skills of Indonesian arts and culture they learned while in Indonesia to the people of South Africa. "It turns out that the response of local residents is very good. There are four or six people who submit applications. One of them is Thabo, "Sugeng said. "He has studied in Russia and other countries. But, he turned out to be more compatible with Indonesian culture, "he continued.

However, Thabo did not easily get the chance to study art and culture in Indonesia. He must go through selection with strict requirements. Selected applicants are required to teach knowledge learned in Indonesia to South African citizens. "Thabo now teaches dance in his village. In the future, we hope that the people of South Africa understand Indonesian culture, "said the man who likes football.

Thabo admitted falling in love with Indonesian arts and culture after living in Solo, Central Java, last year. That's when he started studying Indonesian art and culture. "I went to Indonesia last year. From July to November, I was guided by a teacher named Pak Tresno in Solo. He taught me a lot of Javanese dance, "said Thabo, who wants to return to Indonesia next year.

He claimed to be increasingly interested in Indonesian culture after learning dance on Java was similar to South Africa. "Indonesian culture is not much different from culture in South Africa. I feel there is something within me that guides me to learn Javanese culture more deeply, "said the husband of Bafikile Sedibe.

In each appearance, Thabo likes to play the role of Ken Arok and cakil. According to him, Ken Arok's soul is in every human being who has a desire to rule. "I like Ken Arok the most. I see the spirit of Ken Arok in every human being. A soul who wants to rule even though he has to do everything he can to achieve his desires, "he explained.

In addition to dance, Thabo claimed to be happy with the wayang orang, wayang golek, shadow puppets, and batik. In fact, he said he wanted to explore the science of kejawen, which he said was very similar to South Africa. "In shadow puppets, my favorite character is Gatutkaca. Besides being strong, he can fly, "said Thabo. "I am interested in kejawen because the philosophy is identical to the habits of our parents," said the man who claimed to be ¬ with Javanese fried rice and orange ice drinks.

Thabo also held admiration for the way the Indonesians respected their parents or kings. According to him, there is a high value of respect when young people or lay people face the king and parents. "The way young people respect parents or kings is similar to what we do here," Thabo said as he gave an example of how to worship the king and shake hands with two parents.

He told me that at first it was difficult to convince his parents when he first made the decision to explore Indonesian art and culture. However, after a heart-to-heart approach, finally Thabo's parents and family fully supported him. "I often invite them to watch me when dancing in front of the South African public. I then interpret every movement that I play and they understand, "said the man who had just been chosen as South Africa's best young artist.

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Source: Andryanto W., Farid R. - Jawa Pos (29/06/2009)

Photo: Special

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