Bajo Tribe, The Conqueror of The Ocean

Bajo tribe or commonly called the Bajau tribe is one of thousands of tribes in Indonesia. Bajo tribal communities can be found in several countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and even in Madagascar. One of the Bajo tribes in Indonesia is in Flores, which has existed for hundreds of years.

The Sea Conqueror

The Bajo are famous for their adventurous activities exploring the ocean and fishing. Because of that habit, Bajo tribe is found in various islands and countries. They are famous for sea travelers. With this condition all the activities of the Bajo tribe cannot be separated from the sea.

All activities are always at sea, therefore the Bajo do not pay much attention to education in each Bajo Tribe community member. People from the Bajo tribe community who study until college are very rare. Because they are always at sea, they feel excluded and are less sure they can be accepted and occupy positions in government.

The existence of the fishing industry that has large capital and sophisticated equipment is very disruptive to the livelihoods of the Bajo people at sea. Because of that, in order to sustain life, many of the Bajo people started to leave the sea and work in the informal sector because they did not have tertiary education. So pathetic.

Bajo Tribe
Bajo tribal children are not afraid of the sea/ Source

The Scatter Tribe

Bajo tribe is estimated to be part of the Bajo tribe originating from the Sulu Islands in the southern Philippines. Because it has a nomadic life, Bajo tribe spreads in various places in Indonesia, including to Flores, close to Komodo Island. That is why the Muslim Flores people are, on average, the Bajo who come from Sulawesi. Even though they spread everywhere, they will not be far from marine life.

Bajo means rowing the boat. In several places in East Flores, Bajo tribal community groups are called Wajo, Watan, or Besidu. Wajo is synonymous with Bajo, which is believed to be rowing, a boat rower. Watan means beach, or live on the coast. Besidu, meaning a house on stilts above water, life on sea water with a livelihood as a fisherman. This naming describes the daily life of the Bajo tribe.

Labuan Bajo on Flores also cannot be separated from the history of the arrival of the Bajo Tribe to Labuan Bajo. As a form of respect for the Bajo tribe who have discovered the island and occupy it, the name Labuan Bajo which means the Bajo tribe is anchored in this small town on Flores.

The Bajo tribe can still be found in Flores. Usually, local people call them Lolo which means Bajo people. Bajo tribes who are now also not much different from the ancient Bajo tribes. They are still at sea and looking for fish that used to use simple equipment, now they are using modern equipment.

Genetic Changes Due to Adaptation

People from the Bajo tribe who still roam the sea have advantages that are not possessed by normal people. They are able to survive diving with a duration above the average normal person without the help of diving equipment. This is due to hereditary diving activities in the Bajo community so that genetic adaptation occurs in the Bajo Tribe community.

Richard Moon, a Bajo researcher, believes that the adaptation of the Bajo plays a role in this. Moon studies how the human body responds to extreme heights and depths. When humans dive into the depths of the sea, an increase in pressure makes the pulmonary veins fill with more blood. In extreme cases, the vessels can rupture and cause death. However, this may not happen if there is a genetic inheritance adaptation that occurs in the Bajo people or it can also be with regular training.

Bajo Tribe
Bajo men swim with spears to hunt fish. Source

Bajo Village in Flores

The Bajo tribe community in Flores originated from Sulawesi. They inhabit villages in Maumere, Sikka, Labuan Bajo and several other cities. That’s why all Bajo people in Flores are Muslim. Even though they live in a place that is predominantly Christian, they have an identity as a Muslim.

Every Bajo people have high solidarity. Although they have different beliefs from the indigenous people, the Bajo in Flores uphold the customs of the local community. That’s why the Bajo tribe as a migrant with native residents like the Manggarai Tribe is quite good.

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