The early Portuguese were well aware of Alor. In 1511 the first Portuguese seafarers sailed along the north coast of Pantar and Alor before navigating north eastwards towards the Bandas – the chronicler António Galvão, who died in 1557, recorded that from Java (Jaoa) they sailed to Bali (Balle), Lombok (Anjano), Sumbawa (Simbaba), Solor, Pantar (o Galoa), Alor (Mauluoa), Wetar (Vitara), Hatta or Rozengain in the Bandas (Rosolanguim) and Aru (Arus) (Galvão 1731, 6, 44).
A decade later on either 8 or 10 January 1522, Magellan’s ship the Victoria, captained by Juan Sebastián de Elcano, sought refuge on ‘lofty’ Alor following a storm (Pigafetta 1906, 153 and note 569). Le Roux proposes that the Victoria’s two Ternate pilots sailed eastwards along the south coast of Alor, passing Kui, before anchoring on the east coast of Alor and re-caulking the hull (Le Roux 1929, 56). On 25 January they sailed south to Timor (Pigafetta 1906, 161).
It was around that time that Islam may have been brought to Solor and Adonara by clerics from Java (Aritonang and Steenbrink 2008, 77). Half a century later, in 1562, Catholic Portuguese missionaries from the Dominican Order erected a fort on Solor Island and converted some of the local community (Barnes 1987, 209-210). However the local coastal Muslims on Solor, known as the Paji, viewed them with suspicion. Because Solor was so infertile, the Portuguese were forced to obtain their provisions by importing them from nearby Ende, Sikka and Pagua on the south coast of Flores and from Galiyao (Tiele 1886, 89). This seems to have created a weak alliance between Galiyao and the Portuguese. As suggested above, the coastal states of Pantar (Galiyao) and Alor (Malua) were not Muslim at that time, only adopting Islam around the late 1500s or early 1600s.
When the Dutch commander Apollonius Schotte laid siege to the Portuguese fort on Solor in 1613, assisted by troops from Ternate, the Galiyao Watan Lema was still nominally allied to Portugal. After capturing the fort, Schotte reported that both Ende and Galiyao had risen up against the Portuguese and declared themselves subject to the king of Ternate, implying alliance to the Dutch (Tiele 1886, 109). That Galiyao had switched its loyalties from the Portuguese to the powerful Sultanate of Ternate in Maluku may have been political expediency. Despite this, the coastal Rajas of Alor and Pantar appear to have maintained a loose loyalty to the Portuguese for the following two centuries. A Portuguese manuscript dated 1624-1625 mentions that Galiyao (Pantar and west Alor), along with Levotolo (Ilé Api) and Queidao (Kédang) on Lembata, were inhabited by both pagans and Muslims (Barnes 1982, 408).
Like the Portuguese, the Dutch VOC on Solor may have obtained some provisions from Pantar and Alor, using local Islamic seafarers as intermediaries. In 1657 the VOC relocated their base of operations from Fort Henricus on Solor to Fort Concordia in the Bay of Kupang on Timor. Although the Solorese showed much displeasure, the Dutch maintained good relations with the local ruler of Lamakera who assisted them in their trade with Pantar and Alor (Hägerdal 2012, 237).
If the Solor Watan Lema and the Galiyao Watan Lema, including Kui, had broken with the Portuguese and loosely allied themselves to the VOC, this may explain their appeal to the Sultan of Buton in 1682 (Dietrich 1984, 319). They appealed for help against the Portuguese because they had received no help from the Dutch (Rodemeier 253). Their message was then referred onward to the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. It seems that neither the Butonese or the Dutch responded to this appeal.
In the following year the Sultan of Ternate concluded a treaty with the VOC whereby he renounced all claims on the Solor and Alor islands (Le Roux 1929, 14). Around this time, traders from the western archipelago and Makassar were appearing regularly in the main eastern Indonesian markets, located in the ports of Solor, Alor, and Aru (Rouffaer 1923/24, 206; Noorduyn 1983, 103–4).
The lack of Dutch interest in Alor seems to have encouraged the Portuguese mestizo leader on Timor, Domingus da Costa the chief of the Topasses, to exploit the situation. In 1717 he sent a small expeditionary force to Pandai on Pantar, the head of the Galiyao Watan Lema, to establish a small fortress (Hägerdal 2010b, 232). A little later they moved across to Kokar, just north of Alor Besar. The Dutch VOC responded in 1719 by sending one of its officials to Alor, reminding the Topass captain that Alor was within the Company’s orbit. It seems the Portuguese returned to Lifao.
The Dutch appear to have taken no further interest in western Alor but may have traded indirectly. During the 1730s, 1740s and 1750s small local prahus, often crewed by Solorese sailors, plied the route between Alor and Kupang (Hägerdal 2010b, 233). This seems to have dwindled in the second half of the eighteenth century.
Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there was conflict between Kui and the neighbouring Klon (Kelong) and Mataru, with Kui eventually subordinating them both (Gomang 1993, 3).
During the second half of the 18th century the Dutch VOC was in severe difficulties and ceased to have any significant influence beyond Kupang. In 1785 the governor of the Banda Islands complained to Batavia that marauders from Pantar were harassing Wetar Island (Hägerdal 2010b, 235; Hägerdal 2012, 245). The complaint was forwarded to Kupang, where the VOC said that Alor was beyond its jurisdiction and that it did not have the capability to intervene. Following the dissolution of the VOC in 1799, Alor and Pantar became a diplomatic no-man’s-land – although the two colonial powers still laid theoretical claim to the region, neither had the incentive or means to take effective control.
The Dutch hold over the East Indies loosened further during the French Revolutionary and Napoleon Wars. The British occupied Kupang in 1812 and maintained control until 1816, providing a window for the Portuguese Governor, Victorino Freire da Cuñha Gusmao, based in Dili, East Timor, to regain influence in the region, possibly invoking the threat of military action (Hägerdal 2010b, note 61). In 1814 Raja Manhola of Pandai and Raja Kawiha Naha of Alor Besar responded by requesting to be placed back under Portuguese authority (Rodemeier 2006, 78). It is quite possible that the Raja of Kui followed suit. The Portuguese Governor endorsed this request and sent flags to confirm the new suzerainty.
The Dutch returned in 1816 and placed a posthouder on Pantar in 1820 (Hägerdal 2010a, 18). In that same year the Sepulu Pandai or Ten Shores composed of the ten domains of Galiyao Watan Lema and Solor Watan Lema finally disintegrated as a result of internal differences (Hägerdal 2012, 38 and 245 note 95). One reason may have been a division in loyalties between Holland and Portugal.
According to a Dutch letter of 1851, the Kerajaan of Kui had been flying the Portuguese flag since 1844, implying loyalty to Portuguese Timor (Van Lynden 1851, 334). However it is possible that this loyalty extended back earlier, possibly to 1814.
When the Dutch commissioner, Emanuel Francis, visited Kupang in 1831/32 he recorded a list of the local domains recognised at that time. The list for Alor included Kui, Kelong (Klon) and Hamapu (Hamap) (Hägerdal 2010b, 236-237).
In 1846 the three coastal Rajas of Kui, Blagar, and Beno reacted to continued aggression from the surrounding mountain dwellers and sought help from the princedom of Oecussi on Timor, which was allied to the black Portuguese or Topasses (Hägerdal 2010b, 240). At the same time two other Rajas, of Alor Besar and Baranusa, called for assistance from the Timorese princedom of Amfoan for the same reasons. However Amfoan was allied to the Dutch. After arriving on Alor the detachments from Oecussi and Amfoan encountered and confronted each other, with the former taking fright and sailing back to Timor, while the warriors of Amfoan proceeding to wage war on the mountain people.
One consequence of this activity was that Oecussi informed the Portuguese governor of Dili that Kui fell within the Portuguese enclave of Liquiçá in East Timor. The Dutch reminded Dili in 1847 that Kui fell under the authority of Dutch Lamakera on Solor Island. This, along with other territorial disputes, led to discussions between the Dutch and Portuguese that in 1851 resulted in a clearer differentiation between their respective colonial territories. The new governor of Dili, José Lopes de Lima, ceded the islands north of Timor to the Dutch, in return for the enclave of Oecussi and Maubara and Atauru Island in East Timor. Because the islands ceded to Holland were larger than the territories ceded to Portugal, the Dutch would make a payment of 200,000 florins (de Sousa Saidanha 1994, 38-39).
In 1851 van Lynden reported that the term Maloewa (Malua) not only applied to the whole of Alor Island but also to the natives of Kui, specifically those that lived in the mountains (1851, 329). These were presumably the Kuyas referred to in the local oral narratives. More than one hundred prahus a year were visiting Alor, the Butonese buying rice and corn and the Bugis and Makassarese beeswax (1851, 333). Some of the latter probably came from Kui. Kerajaan Kui was one of the locations on Alor that exported bird’s nests. It was also a producer of pottery (1851, 332). It seems that the Raja of Kui also owned boats that traded with Kupang on Timor and with the Solor Archipelago (Wellfelt cited by Schapper and Klamer 2017, 308).
On 6 August 1851 Alor came entirely under Dutch rule (Van Galen 1946, 21). However the formal treaty of demarcation between the colonial territories of Holland and Portugal was not finalised until 1854 and was only ratified in the 1859 Treaty of Lisbon. Despite this the Dutch responded quickly to establish a presence on Alor, installing the posthouder Johan Hendrik van Nimwegen at Alor Kecil at the mouth of Kalabahi Bay in 1852 (Almanak van Nederlandsch-Indië 1852). The transfer of Alor from Portugal to Holland was met with bitterness among some of the island’s local coastal elite.
As with several other local native leaders, the Muslim chief of Kui, Gesi (presumably Banla Kinanggi), refused to switch loyalties and hoist the Dutch tricolour. In January 1855 the Dutch steam warship Vesuvius appeared in the roadstead of Kui and reduced the village to rubble with its guns, although it seems that the mosque survived (Hägerdal 2010, 18-19). However this date is suspect since the Vesuvius was only launched in 1858. The Dutch deposed Raja Gesi and replaced him with his more malleable son, Pui Soma or Pasoma Gaw Amalei. Following the bombardment, many residents moved away from Lerabaing, some settling in Buraga and some establishing new villages.
During the 1850s the Dutch split Alor Island into four self-governing regions or zelfbesturende landschappen. Later on this was changed to six – Alor, Kui, Mataru, Pureman, Batulolong and Kolana (Hägerdal 2010a, 20). In return for loyalty to Holland the chief of each landschap became a Raja and was given powers over his domain, including its non-Islamic mountain villages – powers that they lacked the ability to impose. Pui Soma or Pasoma was appointed the first Raja of Kui, supported by a single Kapitan, both based at Lerabaing.
In 1860, one year after the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Dutch established a small military post on Alor headed by a Lieutenant Pelt aimed at controlling the slave trade (Dalen 1928a, 159 and 219). Yet the Portuguese flags owned by some of the coastal Rajas – a symbol of their loyalty to Portugal – were never collected by the Dutch or replaced with the tricolour (Hägerdal 2010a, 19).
The Dutch found it impossible to impose their Pax Neerlandica on the islands. A Dutch report of 1879 mentioned that many decades after the official abolition of the slave trade in the Dutch possessions, captured mountain people were being sent from Kui and Kolana to Liquiçá on Timor as slaves (Schapper and Wellfelt 2018, 101). It seems that the Raja of Kui was acting as a slave merchant, acquiring slaves from villages in central Alor and then shipping them to Portuguese Timor. At around the same time the Raja of Kui sent tributes consisting of beeswax to Oecussi in Portuguese Timor in the hope of obtaining assistance to fight the mountain villagers.
Following a local war between the district of Molelang adjacent to Manatang on the south coast of Kui and Lalelang, the location of which we cannot identify, Raja Pasoma of Kui and the Raja of Alor were summoned in front of the Resident of Kupang in 1886 and forced to agree a settlement (Seran 2004, 44-45). They were each given a ceremonial walking cane or rottingknoppen embossed with the Dutch coat-of-arms and a Dutch flag.
Raja Pasoma died in 1890 or 1891 and was succeeded by his nephew’s eldest son, Taru Soma I (in some sources Tarsoma), who led until 1897 when his younger brother Gaw Amalei replaced him. Under Raja Taru Soma, the Kalong (Klon) region of Probur was officially incorporated into the landschap of Kui, having previously been contested by the Rajas of Alor (Van Galen 1946, 35). It became a new kapitanship of Kui.
In 1898 Raja Gaw Amalei was pressurised into signing the so-called Timor Declaration, an acknowledgement of Dutch supremacy and obedience to Dutch commands and the more detailed Korte Verklaring (Short Declaration) in return for a measure of native self-government. Despite this Dutch interference remained minimal. Raja Gaw Amalei signed another agreement related to the imposition of taxes in 1901.
It seems that a dispute between the Rajas of Kui and Batulolong in the years before 1900 was resolved thanks to the intervention of Nampira Bukan of Dulolong (Van Galen 1946, 27). The Dutch rewarded the Raja with a golden kopiah kerajaan brimless cap. In order to improve relations between Kerajaan Kui and Kerajaan Alor, Raja Gaw Amelie took a wife from the family of Kapitan Nampira of Dulolong (Seran 2004, 45).
After half a century of Dutch rule the policy applied to the more isolated islands like Alor was about to change drastically. Having just successfully crushed a long-running insurgency in the Sultanate of Aceh, the military leader Joannes van Heutsz was appointed Governor-General of the Netherlands East Indies in 1904. Faced with numerous ongoing local insurrections across the Outer Islands, van Heutsz realised that stability and prosperity would require a new hands-on approach with the installation of strong local rule. The following year he appointed J. F. A. de Rooy as the new Resident of Timor, with instructions to exert direct control over the native rulers in his residency.
In 1906 de Rooy promoted A. C. Meulemans to become the first Controleur of Alor at Alor Kecil and installed A. F. Morgenstern as the new posthouder (Regeeringsalmanak voor Nederlandsch-Indie 1907). It did not take the new incumbent long to realise that although the Dutch-appointed coastal Rajas took it upon themselves to exert their authority over their respective hinterlands, the animist mountain people did not accept them as their leaders (Morgenstern 1909 cited by van Galen 1946, 2). The Rajas spoke a different language, had a different religion, did not understand their adat and in some cases had not even visited the regions concerned.
The Dutch at Kupang did not focus their attention onto Alor Island until 1910. In July, Lieutenant Adelberg was sent from Kupang to Kalabahi with three detachments of marechaussee. It seems the mountain dwellers on Alor respected the well-armed troops and were generally cooperative (van Galen 2010, 22).
The map produced by Adelberg’s surveyor shows that there was only a limited military incursion into the western part of Kerajaan Kui.
Lieutenant Adelberg’s campaign resulted in a report about the state of affairs on Alor Island at that time, although many of the comments within are in a generalised form (Anon 1914). Kui was still one of the same six rajadoms established in the 1850s. Kui and Mataru, but especially Kolana, still maintained a relationship with Portuguese Timor. Few chiefs exercised much authority over their subjects, but there were a few exceptions such as the Fettor (Lèr or Raja?) of Kui and Kapitan Nampira of Dulolong.
While the centre of the island appeared very fertile, Kui and Mataru seemed to be less so (1914,81). The landscape of Kui was ideal for breeding goats, although in practise this was almost impossible because of the frequent occurrence of pythons in that region! The coastal villages mainly engaged in fishing. Kui had 23 perahus, less than the 55 of Alor Kecil but more than Dulolong (22) and Alor Besar (20). Of the 23, two were large with a capacity of 50-60 people, one was of medium size capable of carrying around 25 people and the remaining 20 were small, carrying 3 to 6 people. Mataru had only 4 small perahu. There was little industry on the island, the main activity being the weaving of coarse sarongs by the coastal inhabitants.
Most settlements across the island were built on flat ground or on terraces and were surrounded by heavy bamboo fences, often reinforced with cactus. However Kui was unusual, being surrounded by a defensive stonewall (1914, 74). According to posthouder Meulemans, the population of Kui was divided between two tribes: the Barawahieng (a term applied to the Abui) and the Kelong (Klon). It is clear that he was only referring to the mountain villages of Kui. Meulemans thought that the mountain populations of Mataru and Batulolong probably also belonged to the Barawahieng or Abui tribe because they spoke roughly the same language. Generally the people of Alor were strong, well-built and tough but there were some ‘unhealthy centres’, presumably with sickly people, one being Sulamaka on the south coast of Kui. We cannot identify its location.
The coastal population of Kui was partly from Timor (Anonymous 1914, 77). From Kui the Timorese immigrants gradually spread eastward and settled successively in Pureman and Kolana. This might explain why the Masin language is similar to the Kiraman spoken in Batulolong and Sibera. By contrast the beach population of Mataru seems to have originated from mountain dwellers who had migrated southwards down to the coast. While coastal Kui was Islamic ‘at least in name’, the populations of Mataru, Batulolong, Pureman and Kolana were ‘animist heathens’.
The population of Alor Island was registered, their muskets and other weapons were destroyed and the Rajas were pressurised to sign the Korte Verklaring or ‘Short Declaration’ – a one-sided agreement designed by van Heutsz in which each Raja recognised the sovereignty of Holland and agreed to obey all of the laws and rules of the government of the East Indies. The census enabled the Dutch to levy taxes in the form of heerendiensten or unpaid labour (Dietrich 1985, 279). Men were brought in from the mountain villages to construct roads in and around the capital of Kalabahi and elsewhere. Inevitably, Dutch taxation and forced labour soon led to local hostilities.
The 1911 census covered five land- or radjaschappen: Alor, Kui, Batulolong, Pureman and Kolana. These were generically known as swaprajas, self-governing domains (swa meaning autonomous and praja meaning governing). The population of Radjaschaap Kui totalled 8,468, some 22.3% of the whole of Alor Island (van Dalen 1928a, 219). Apparently Lerabaing had the reputation of being a pirate’s nest. By 1914 the number of radjaschappen had risen to six, with the addition of Mataru, just to the east of Kui (Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap 1914, 70).
Under their new hands-on policy, the Dutch placed increased demands on the local Rajas – they needed to maintain the new system of registration, construct new roads and build schools. On Alor Island only two leaders – Raja Gaw Amalei of Kerajaan Kui and the newly installed Raja Nampira Bukang of Kerajaan Alor – were considered up to the job (du Croo 1964, 462). The first school was opened in Lerabaing in 1912, run by a teacher called Ngefak (van Dalen 1928a, 161). Two years later there was an uprising against the Dutch and their client Rajas in the districts of Probur, Alor Besar and Atimelang. The Dutch organised military patrols in the Kalong (Klon) region in the kapitanship of Probur (Van Galen 1946, 22).
In 1914 Raja Gaw Amalei was succeeded by Raja Taru Soma II. Under his rule another dispute took place between the Kerajaans of Kui and Alor, Raja Taru Soma II being concerned over the claims of Kerajaan Alor over the southwest part of the island (Seran 2004, 46). He gained support from the Dutch who arranged a meeting between the two Rajas at which it was agreed that Kerajaan Kui’s borders would be extended and that the border between the two domains would be the river running between the villages of Fanating and Moru (Haan 1995). In return for their support, the Raja of Kui committed to increase his loyalty towards the Dutch, and ensure the full payment of taxes and provide more corveé labout for road construction.
On the nights of 4 and 5 August 1915, Lerabaing was plundered and almost completely burnt down by 150 warlike mountain dwellers from the village of Kamelelang, rebelling against the Raja of Kui for the imposition of corvée labour and taxes. Nine villagers were killed and the Raja’s residence and a Chinese shop were incinerated. Reinforcements were sent from Kupang and the rebellion was finally supressed with military support from the Raja of Kui. Apparently dozens of rebels were killed (Doko 1981, 57). Subsequently some of the mountain dwellers were moved down from their villages to more accessible locations where they could be better controlled. Following the attack, some residents decided to move from Lerabaing to Moru and a representative of the Raja was located there (Seran 2004, 47).
In February 1916 the Dutch combined the adjacent landschappen of Kui and Mataru, Raja La Kussie, the last chief of Mataru, having died in 1913 (Stokhof 1984, 132). Mataru was added as a new kapitanship, overseen by a Kapitan from Lerabaing.
In 1917 Raja Taru Soma II was succeeded by Raja Dain Soma (or Daeng Taru Kinanggi according to Seran). That very same year the Dutch authorities placed Kerajaan Kui under the brief rule of the Kapitan of Limbur at Atimelang, one of the five kapitanships of landschap Alor (Gomang 1993, 4). This only lasted until the outbreak of hostilities later the following year – see below. Because Raja Dain Soma strictly enforced Dutch demands for taxes and labour he faced an uprising by angry villagers in Mataru (Seran 2004, 47).
Thanks to the Dutch artist Otto Nieuwenkamp we have been left a good description of Lerabaing in 1918. On the afternoon of 2 June he was aboard the small government steamship Canopus on its way back from Kisar, Wetar and Liran to Kalabahi when it briefly moored in front of the village. He did not have time to go ashore at that time but was impressed by its picturesque location, the village perched on a rocky plateau set against ‘high, capricious mountains and deep, dark valleys’ (Nieuwenkamp 1922, 68-69). The inhabitants gathered on the beach and rocks as they were pounded by a huge surf. Fortunately the artist had time to make a good sketch of the view.
Nieuwenkamp was so impressed that on the 16 June he set off from Kalabahi on a five-day round trip to Kui, travelling on horseback with First Lieutenant W. Muller, the gezaghebber of Alor. Once they reached Buraga two days later they were met by the Raja of Kui and two of his relatives. After crossing the shallow Buraga River they stopped at a few houses where a man had just lost half of his face after being attacked by a crocodile. He was the fourth local to have been attacked by a crocodile that year, the previous three having been eaten.
The last leg of the journey to Lerabaing was difficult, entailing crossing large boulders, banks of loose stones and a long dyke flanked by steep cliffs from which great lumps had collapsed on one side and the sea on the other. After galloping through a vast cotton plantation they finally reached the village. Nieuwenkamp first explored some impressive nearby caves to the east of the village that he had seen from the boat. The interior was like a cathedral with a huge round vault. There were three large openings facing the ferocious surf, one of which offered a view of the village, which Nieuwenkamp recorded in another sketch.
While they camped overnight at Lerabaing the villagers, along with visitors from the surrounding hills, performed a lego-lego dance in the dance square on the other side of the village with singing and the beating of drums and gongs, lasting from the evening until the following morning. The circular dance began slowly and quietly but then became faster and louder.
Lerabaing was located in a well-protected position, surrounded by a wall of coral blocks and a small river on the eastern side. On the seaward side, the perpendicular rocky coast offered further security. The entrances on the west and east sides were protected by a wall and heavy wooden gates that were closed at night – probably installed after the devastating attack in 1915.
Nieuwenkamp described the simple mosque as not very beautiful, apart from its strange roof and ridge decorated with ‘pagan motifs, derived from nagas’. Close by were two bronze cannons half buried in the ground, one bearing a Portuguese inscription and the date of 1699, indicating past links with the Portuguese. On a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea stood three large, whitewashed stone tombs of former rajas, two built of brick masonry and decorated with ‘pagan motifs’. The other had two wooden posts, indicating it was the grave of a Muslim.
Next to one of the roads into the village there was a pile of stones and the remains of an old, large wooden idol, brightly painted with a big naga carrying a smaller naga on its back. The Raja explained that such gods were no longer worshipped in the village. Nieuwenkamp located the elderly owner who was unwilling to sell the parts and see them shipped back to Holland, especially as he made a sacrifice to the idol every year. They therefore reassembled the idol, tying the parts together with string. It had two wooden cups for making offerings. The old man was so delighted that he gifted Nieuwenkamp four other pieces of carved wood that were also laying on the stone cairn, the heads and tails of two further nagas. Back in Holland one head and tail was donated to the Colonial Institute in Amsterdam.
In the following September of 1918 there was a serious uprising of Berawahing clan members located in the mountain districts of Lembur-Welai in the north and Mataru in the south, the latter being under the authority of the Raja of Kui. The underlying cause was resentment against Dutch demands for corvée labour, the capture of unregistered villagers and the imposition of fines and taxes (Van Galen 1946, 24). In their opposition to the Dutch, one village had even appointed a spiritual leader, a woman called Maleili, giving her the title ‘Sultane’. The rebellion may have been sparked by the arrival of Raja Bala Nampira of Dulolong on a tax-collecting visit. While staying at a temporary bivouac he was murdered by local villagers, who incinerated his camp with flaming arrows.
The gezaghebber of Alor, First Lieutenant W. Muller, set out to punish the three villages responsible, with the assistance of Raja Dain Soma of Kui (Nieuwenkamp 1922, 78-79). It was a challenging task as the villages were fortified with stonewalls built with embrasures as well as bamboo stockades blocking the paths. After taking Fungwati and Afenbeka in the north and rounding up the rebels, Dutch forces moved south to Mataru where they were assisted by warriors from Kui. The ‘Sultane’ was found among the dead and wounded and was arrested, after which the Raja of Kui plundered the village, taking bronze moko drums, gongs and other goods. Later the people of Mataru repeatedly requested the return of these goods, but without success. As a punishment the rebels were forced to move down to lower locations (Anon 1930).
Raja Dain Soma committed suicide in 1920 or 1921 and was succeeded by Raja Katang Koli Kinanggi, the younger the brother of Taru Soma I and Gaw Amalei (Regeerings-Almanak voor Nederlandsch-Indie 1937, 443).
The territorial expansion of Kerajaan Kui continued during the reign of Raja Katang Koli Kinanggi, with the incorporation of the Hamap-speaking region (Seran 2004, 47). The Hamap resisted but were supressed by the Dutch, their leader, Teng Adang, being imprisoned in Kalabahi until 1928.
In 1930 local mountain tribes again attacked Lerabaing and destroyed some houses and the Raja’s residence. More residents relocated from Lerabaing to Moru, on the south coast of Kalabahi Bay (Katubi 2005, 66). Later that year the roof of the mosque was replaced with one made of tin.
The 1930 census identified the population of landschap Kui as 18,646, some 20.6% of the Alor Island total (Paulus 1935, 5). Although the number of residents (including children) recorded in the later taxation records of 1937 was 13,931, this clearly did not represent the total population.
Clearly the location of Lerabaing was unsuitable for farming or development, while Moru lay on an extensive plain that was close to the Dutch administration in Kalabahi. Consequently, in 1933, Raja Katang Koli decided to relocate his administration to Moru and encouraged some of his people to join him there (Katubi 2005, 64). However at that time there were not yet any Klon, Hamap or Abui in Moru. Two years later in 1935 a small Islamic school was opened in Moru along with a branch of the anti-Dutch Partai Syarikat Islam, thereby introducing a reformist version of Islam into the local culture (Gomang 1993, 117).
In 1939 there were just four rajaships on Alor: Alor, Kui, Batulolong and Kolana (Du Bois 1944, 16). Pureman had merged with Kolana in 1927.
In 1939 Raja Katang Koli Kinanggi abdicated and the Resident of Timor entrusted the Raja’s son, Banla Kinanggi, to take on a caretaker role as Regent. It seems that by now there was a telephone line from Kalabahi to Moru and to Lerabaing. In March 1942 there was an uprising of mountain villagers against taxation that spread from one kapitanship to another. Some rural villagers attempted to march on Kalabahi and burn the town.
In June 1942 the first Japanese warship arrived at Kalabahi and unloaded firearms and munitions. Facing no serious resistance, by July the Japanese had established their garrison in the town (Du Bois 1961, xiv). Their base immediately came under an attack from Allied long-range bombers stationed in Australia, which started fires (US Office of War Information, 18 July 1942). Later that year they attacked Japanese troops based in Lerabaing destroying the Raja’s residence and other buildings (Kinanggi 2018 and 2020). Another mission in late 1942 started fires among wharf installations at the Japanese Kalabahi naval base (A Week of the War 1942, 3). Further bombing raids took place in August and November 1944.
The arrival of the Japanese quickly reignited the earlier tribal rebellion, which had by then spread as far as Mataru, still incensed by their loss of mokos and gongs to the Raja of Kui in 1918 (Van Galen 1946, 83). Because of an untrue rumour that the Raja of Kui had killed the Kapitan of Mataru, the insurgents threatened to retaliate by killing the Kapitan of Lerabaing. The Raja sent them a message that their Kapitan was fine but the insurgents murdered the hapless young courier and incinerated several Mataru villages. To quell the uprising the Raja of Kui sent the Kapitan of Mataru to plead with them but he was then threatened and chased away.
As the rebels approached Lerabaing, a perahu arrived with eight Japanese who delivered just three rifles and ammunition, which proved sufficient to disburse the insurgents.
The Japanese in Kalabahi moved decisively against the rebellious kampongs, sending out missives demanding that the rebel leaders appear before them in Kalabahi. The Mataru rebels said they would only obey if their mokos and gongs were returned. In response a troop of 60 marines led by an officer called Nakamura violently attacked some of the kampongs. Some village leaders were shot or bayoneted, others were decapitated and some imprisoned (Weaver 1973, 32). Several kampongs were incinerated. Fearing for their lives, the Mataru rebels reported to Kalabahi and begged forgiveness. Two of their chiefs were jailed. Although van Galen estimated the total number of dead would not have exceeded fifty, one administrator suggested some 150 to 200 had been killed in Mataru alone. Only one Japanese soldier died.
On 20 February 1943 the Raja of Kui went from Moru to Lerabaing in order to hand out tax notifications, but only a few local chiefs appeared. He was informed by the Kapitan that the insurgents in Mataru would not pay any taxes. To resolve the dispute, the Japanese ordered the Raja of Kui to send 30 moko to Mataru. The Raja acquired 31 small moko and gongs and summoned the chiefs of Mataru to meet him in Moru. However the offer was rejected because the chiefs wanted their original property to be restored. The impatient Japanese dispatched soldiers and forced the rebels to report to Kalabahi where they were warned that if they rebelled again they would be shot. Order was only finally restored in October 1943. During these troubles, Banla Kinanggi persuaded yet more people to move from Lerabaing to Moru (Nasarudin Kinanggi 2017).
Under the Japanese infamous system of conscript romushas or labourers, many people from Alor were forced to toil on roads and military installations, both locally and on Timor, working under harsh conditions. Many died from disease and exhaustion. A comparison of the Dutch tax records for 1937 and 1946 showed a decline of 15% in adult males in landschap Kui despite a 26% increase in the rest of the population, which van Galen attributes to labourers having been forcibly shipped to Timor by the heartless Japanese (1946, 39). Marion Klamer found that most elderly people tell stories about the cruel and barbarous treatment of local people by members of the Japanese army, as well as a lack of food and clothes during their occupation (Klamer 2010, 14). To maintain local order and prevent further uprisings, small detachments of Japanese troops were sent out at irregular intervals to crisscross the island.
After the Japanese Emperor capitulated to the Allies on 15 August 1945, Japanese forces departed from Alor in late September. On 3 November an Australian corvette arrived at Kalabahi carrying the former Dutch controleur G. A. M. van Galen and a detachment of Netherlands East Indies troops. Onderafdeeling Alor was back under Dutch East Indies rule. On 9 November the rulers and senior chiefs of the four landschappen – Alor, Kui, Batulolong and Kolana – were summoned to Kalabahi to witness the raising of the Dutch flag. The Dutch appointed Banla Kinanggi as the official Raja of Kui.
In landschap Kui the villagers had been forced to collect a significant portion of their harvest for the Japanese and that year’s crop was still present in their local storehouses. As they had not received any payment for this produce the Dutch decided that it should be returned to the respective farmers. Raja Kinanggi was instructed to supervise its redistribution (Van Galen 1946, 88).
The number of Kui residents (including children) recorded in the taxation records for 1946 was 15,304, probably well below the total population at that time (Van Galen 1946, 39). Van Galen reported that the conversion of many mountain villagers to Christianity had heightened longstanding tensions with the coastal Islamic populations such as Lerabaing, which was completely Islamic. The outbreak of revolts after the war had been prevented by the religious neutrality of the Dutch, and in the case of Kui due to the ‘very moderate’ position of its Raja (Van Galen 1946, 43).
In van Galen’s opinion, the populations in much of Alor, especially in the landschap of Kui as well as the communities of Welai on the neck of the Kabola Peninsula and Limbur to its east, were still ‘utterly primitive’. At that time the roads on Alor were just horse tracks, although there was a wider track from Alor Kecil to Kalabahi and on to Moru, although the bridges of this track were unsuitable for cars (Van Galen 1946, 75). In 1947 some more of the Hamap community relocated from Foang to Moru (Katabi 2005, 66).
The Dutch had created the United States of Indonesia (Republic Indonesia Serikat, RIS) on Christmas Eve 1946, transforming the former Timor Residency (Residentie Timor en Onderhoorigheden) into the State of East Indonesia (Negara Indonesia Timur or NIT). Indonesia finally gained independence on 17 August 1949 and on 15 August 1950 the RIS was transformed into the Republic of Indonesia and NIT was dissolved. However its leadership had no choice other than to maintain the previous Dutch system of regional governance. The Regional Government Envoy (Utusan Pemerintah Daerah) Ludgerus Poluan was put in charge of Onderafdeeling Alor, which remained part of Nusa Tenggara Timur within the Lesser Sunda Province (Provinsi Sunda Kecil) composed of Bali, NTB and NTT. Kui remained as one of eight landschappen or swaprajas within Onderafdeeling Alor, headed by Raja Banla Kinanggi.
Amongst the Republic’s many problems, one was to replace the authority of the many traditional, and sometimes powerful, local ruling aristocracies with a modern system of regional and local government.
In 1958 the Indonesian government approved Law No. 69 (Statute Book of 1958 No.122) creating two tiers of autonomous regions. The Lesser Sunda Province was dissolved into three Autonomous Level I Regions – Daerah Swatantra Tingkat I: Bali, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) and East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). These were then divided into 12 Autonomous Level II Regions – Daerah Swatantra Tingkat II. One of these was Alor Autonomous Level II Region, which came into existence on 20 December 1958. The Governor of NTT appointed Syarif Abdullah, the older brother of Sarinah Abdullah (the wife of King Banla Kinanggi), as its first Acting Head or Bupati. He also appointed Bapak Pelupesi as acting Camat of Kecamatan Alor Barat, based in its administrative centre of Moru (Nasarudin Kinanggi 2020).
This law transferred political power from the traditional regional Rajas of Alor to a centralised government administration in Kalabahi. Henceforth the responsibilities of the Rajas of Kui, Alor Batulolong and Kolana would be restricted to matters of customary law (adat).
Raja Banla Kinanggi experienced these changes for only a short time – he died 20 December 1959, becoming the last official ruling Raja of Kui. He was poisoned at the young age of just 43 for reasons that still remain a mystery. It is rumoured that the motive for his murder was a matter of competition, possibly rivalry. Remarkably his apparent murder was not reported to the police authorities.
Banla Kinanggi had nine children, five sons and four daughters, born as follows:
The eldest son, Muhammad Kinanggi, had been born in Moru on 2 February 1949, so at the time of his father’s death was only 10-years-old. However according to adat he automatically became the Eighth Raja of Kui (Banla Kinanggi 2020). As in most other Kingdoms, in Kerajaan Kui the eldest son became Raja on the death of his father. As was the tradition in Kui, no official ceremony of appointment was involved. Apparently some considered him too young to be appointed Raja (Nasruddin Kinanggi 2020). Obviously clan elders must have been involved in important decision-making. It has also been suggested that the Bupati of Alor, Syarif Abdullah, had some influence on the activities in Kui.
However Syarif Abdullah’s sojourn as Bupati of Alor Daerah Swatantra Tingkat was short-lived. In 1960 he was replaced by Bupati Jhon Bastian Denu.
Meanwhile further changes were made to the system of local government. On 1 July 1962 the government of NTT abolished the system of swaprajas. Then on 1 September 1965, Law No. 18 resulted in the former Autonomous Level I Regions being transformed into Provinsi or Provinces and the Autonomous Level II Regions being transformed into Kabupaten or Regencies.
Sometime later, while Muhammad Kinanggi was still at high school in Kalabahi he decided to change his first name to Mochammad, which he maintained for the rest of his life.
Raja Mochammad Kinanggi eventually married Saida Sutio in 1977 when he was 28-years-old. Ibu Sutio was not from one of the traditional noble families of Kui or Alor. Her grandfather had been born on Java and later moved to settle on Alor.
Raja Mochammad and his wife had five children, three daughters followed by two sons:
Sandra Meilita Kinanggi, born in 1978
Dessy Prihatini Kinanggi, born in 1979
Ratnasari Kinanggi, born in 1981
Banla Yuan Permata Kinanggi, born in 1985
Arif Rahman Kinanggi, born in 1993
Raja Mochammad took up a career in politics and in 1992, when he was 43-years-old, was elected Chairman of Alor Regency DPRD (Regional People’s Representative Assembly), a position he held until 1997.
In 1999 he moved to Kupang where he was elected as Secretary of the DPRD for the Province of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT). However he still took an active part in Kui affairs and in 2005 he sent out an appeal to the Hamap community to move to Moru (Katabi 2005, 66).
As already mentioned, Raja Mochammad Kinanggi had four younger brothers of which Nasarudin Kinanggi was the eldest. Because of his relocation from Moru to Kupang, Raja Mochammad threfore asked his eldest brother to assist him with customary matters relating to Kui. Nasarudin Kinanggi adopted the title Raja Muda, essentially becoming a local viceroy acting on behalf of the Raja.
Sadly Raja Mochammad Kinanggi had a devastating stroke in 2006 that left him incapacitated and he was forced to retire from government. Despite continuing to live in Kupang he remained Raja of Kui, retaining his responsibilities for adat affairs.
In 2012 the Al-Taqwa mosque at Lerabaing was renovated and re-roofed. The opening ceremony was attended by communities of Abui, Harap and Klon, some of whom had helped in its reconstruction (Katubi 2020). Also in 2012, work began on the construction of a container dock at Moru. However the construction project has not been completed and the dock remains non-operational. Accusations of corruption have been made.
In 2017 Nasarudin Kinanggi submitted proposals for the expansion and development of Alor Barat Daya to the Secretary of Alor, Hopni Bukang.
Sadly Mochammad Kinanggi died in Kupang in May 2018. His eldest son, Banla Yuan Permata Kinanggi, then aged 33, automatically became the Ninth Raja of Kui. As he was also based in Kupang, his uncle Nasaridin Kinanggi continued to assist with adat affairs in Moru.