Introduction / History
The Lampung Way Kanan are a small group with a strong cultural structure that is distinct within the larger Lampung cluster. The Way Kanan people are made up of five large families known as the Buay Lima Kay Kanan. The Way Kanan live in the regencies of Way Kanan and North Lampung. In North Lampung they live in Bukit Kemuning subdistrict. In Way Kanan regency they live in Bahuga, Banjit, Baradatu, Blambangan Umpu and Pakuan Raya subdistricts. The Way Kanan speech variety is part of the Lampung Api language. There are several levels of formal language (registers) used for special situations. Most of the people can also speak Indonesian. A few of them can even use languages of the transmigrants in the area, such as Javanese and Sundanese.
What are their lives like?
They hold to the Pepadun cultural tradition. The word pepadun means "chair" or a seat used by a ruler. The leadership system in Way Kanan is congregational in that there are many punyimbang (cultural leaders) who have the right of voice in community meetings, acting much like a congress. Family ties among the Way Kanan are very strong and the Way Kanan clans use a system of consensus for resolving issues amongst themselves. According to their ancient historical manuscripts, the Way Kanan most likely are from the same lineage as the Lampung Pesisir, Sungkai and Pubian. However, they have their own special characteristics in that their dialect is part of the Lampung Api language and that they use the Pepadun tradition. Farming is the primary means of livelihood among the Way Kanan. They mostly live in remote areas because the main highways don't run through their villages. Their houses have tended to shift from the traditional wooden homes on poles to the more modern cinderblock and cement or wooden houses built at ground level. They live apart from the outsiders in their area, who tend to live among the fields. The roads among the Way Kanan are in bad condition. There is only one paved road in the whole area - the Central Trans-Sumatra highway. The rest are dirt or gravel roads that are difficult to pass. The regency government is still trying to open up the most isolated areas by creating passable roads. The Way Kanan area is still dependent on an electric power station that runs on diesel fuel in North Lampung. If that one electric power station fails, electricity for the entire area is cut off.
What are their beliefs?
The Lampung Way Kanan people hold strongly to Islam and forbid conversion to other religions. As a result there are no Way Kanan people who profess any other religion. The principle of religious homogeneity is very strong here. Marriage with people from other faiths is forbidden for both men and women. If a Way Kanan person - male or female - does marry someone from a different religion, he or she will work very hard to try to convert the spouse to Islam.
What are their needs?
Compared to other Lampung groups, the Way Kanan are the farthest behind economically. Therefore, working together with the people to improve their local economy would be very meaningful to these people. Coffee and pepper production are a main source of income for the Way Kanan. Unfortunately, farmers often have difficulty accessing information about the frequently fluctuating market prices of coffee and pepper. Remoteness and lack of appropriate technologies makes it difficult for them to monitor the price of coffee and pepper, which can change on a daily basis.
Text source: Copyright © Indonesian Peoples Network, 2011. Used with permission.