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Malay Figure

Teuku Umar

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1. Biography

Aceh is the region that has significant role in striving for the independence of Indonesia. In this land, many meritorious Indonesian national heroes were born not only for Acehnese but also for all Indonesian citizens. One of them is Teuku Umar. He was born in 1854 (no record for the date and month) in Meulaboh, West Aceh, Indonesia. He is a national hero who had led guerrilla wars in Aceh from 1873 to 1899.

Teuku Umar‘s grand father, Datuk Makdum Sati, came from Minangkabau. It was he who rendered good services to the Sultan of Aceh. Datuk Makdum Sati had two sons, Nantan Setia and Achmad Mahmud. The last was Teuku Umar‘s father. When Aceh war broke out in 1873, though he was only 19 years old, Teuku Umar had been involved in fighting with other warriors. At the beginning, he struggled in his own village then continued to Western Aceh.  At this age, Teuku Umar was chosen as keuchik (head of village) in Daya Meulaboh region.

Regarding his personality, since the childhood, Teuku Umar had shown his intellectual precociousness, bravery, and sometimes he liked to fight with his friends. He had also forceful character, never giving up facing all problems. Teuku Umar had never received formal education. Nevertheless he was a strong, brave and smart leader.

Teuku Umar married more than once. In his early twenty, Teuku Umar had married Nyak Sofiah, the daughter of Uleebalang Glumpang. To increase his dignity, he then married Nyak Malighai, a daughter of commander Sagi XXV Mukim.  From that occasion, he started using Teuku as his title. In 1880, Teuku Umar married again with the widow Cut Nyak Dien, his uncle‘s daughter. Beforewards, Cut Nyak Dien had married with Teuky Ibrahim Lamnga who died in 1978 in a war against Dutch in Gle Tarun. She met Teuku Umar and fell in love with him. Both Teuku Umar and Cut Nyak Dien then struggled together attacked the Dutch posts in Krueng. From his last married, Teuku Umar had a daughter named Cut Gambang who was born in the refuge because both of her parents were striving in the wars.

Once, Dutch cooperated with Teuku Umar‘s troops in 1883. A year later, however, in 1884, another war exploded. In 1893, Teuku Umar arranged a strategy on how to get weapons from the colonialists. He then pretended to be the Dutch‘s henchman. His wife, Cut Nyak Dien, had been ashamed, confused, and angry responding her husband‘s decision. The governor Van Teijn at the time also wanted to use Teuku Umar to win the people‘s hearts. Teuku Umar was involved in the Dutch military official. For that involvement, on January first, 1894, Teuku Umar had been awarded a title of Johan Hero and had been allowed to form a troop for his own consisting of 250 people armed with complete weapons.

When got involved with the Dutch, Teuku Umar had in fact conquered several Aceh defense posts. However, they were mock wars since Teuku Umar informed the Acehnese warriors about the wars before he went to attack. To compensate his success, the governor Deykerhorf (the successor of the governor Van Teijn) permitted Teuku Umar to add 17 commanders and 120 soldiers and chose a Pangleot as his right hand man for his troop.

In 30 of March 1896, Teuku Umar went out from the Dutch military official, brought along his troops, 800 weapons, 25.000 bullets, 500 kg ammunition, and 18.00 dollar. With the stronger sources, he along with 15 others turned around fighting for the Acehnese. That shrewd war strategy was directed to deceive the very strong and unbeatable power of the Dutch. When Teuku Umar attacked the Dutch, he was supported by Teuku Panglima Polem Muhammad Daud with his 400 soldiers. There were 25 Acehneses died and 190 injured in the war.

The Governor Deykerhorf felt cheated by Teuku Umar‘s strategy. He then commanded Van Heutsz to mobilize great number of troops to arrest Teuku Umar. Teuku Umar was then shoot and killed in the spontaneous attack to Meulaboh. It was in Kampong Mugo, the hinterland of Meulaboh in 10 of February 1899.

2. Thoughts

Since his childhood, Teuku Umar‘s thoughts were hard to be understood by his friends. Similarly, in the adulthood, his thoughts were also hard to be followed. As has been discussed earlier, his strategy to deceive the Dutch was an example of his “complex” idea. Many interpretations arose responding his tactic. However, his approach was considered accurate to challenge the Dutch which have strong soldiers and complete weapons. For Teuku Umar, “negative way” may appropriate to be used to gain “positive goal”. If we correlated it to the contemporary thoughts, it seemed close to communism way of thinking which allows people to apply any policy to gain the purpose. The spirit to combat colonialism was the underlying factor of that notion.

3. Works

The opus of Teuku Umar could be his success in challenging the enemy. As an example, in 14 of June 1886, Teuku Umar attacked the Dutch ship, Hok Centon. The ship, as a result, was occupied by Teuku Umar‘s soldiers. Hans, the ship‘s captain from Denmark, died, while the ship was given to the Dutch with 25.000 Ringgit as the compensation. His bravery has been adored by the Acehnese. Another work is the success of Teuku Umar in gaining hundreds of weapons from his betrayal to the Dutch. 

4. Awards

Based on the presidential decree No. 087/TK/1973 on November 6th, 1973, Teuku Umar was awarded the title of national hero. His name has also used as the name of number of streets in Indonesia, the well known one is that in Menteng, Central Jakarta. In addition, his name is also remembered as the name of field in Meulaboh, Western Aceh. 

(HQ/ter/70/9-07)

Reference:

  • Winarno, Sejarah Ringkas Pahlawan Nasional, (Jakarta: Erlangga, 2006).
  • www.jagoan.or.id
  • www.nad.go.id.
  • Wikipedia.org.

Credit photo : www.gimonca.com


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