From Republika and reprinted in today's Jakarta Post.
In response to reports in several publications about a virus decimating chili peppers, known as
Bule Amerika (American Albino) among local chili pepper growers, we would like to give the following information and corrections:
- Scientifically, this disease .... is caused by the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV) gemini virus and is communicated by a vector, namely the Bemisa tabaci (kebul) insect
- We have tried to provide information about the yellow virus and how to control it among officials and growers in chili pepper production centers through training, SLPHT (eh?) and the distribution of leaflets. (Wot? No insecticides?)
Director of Horticultural Protection
Ministry of Agriculture
- As for the name Bule Amerika, which is frequently used by chili pepper growers in Yogyakarta and Central Java, we suggest that it should no longer be used as it is not a standard name and may give rise to undesirable perceptions.
(pronounced boo.lay) is a term used to comment upon we Caucasians. I find it particularly objectionable as, whatever the perception of foreigners may be among the indigenous population here, this refers to skin colour ~ Oh look, here comes a whitey.
Some expats almost exult in its use. For example, my good friend Bart runs a bar called Bugils
, which has led to a book
and a 'reality' TV series called Bule Gila (Crazy Whitey). I don't mind occasionally making a right prat of myself in the cause of entertainment, if folk laugh with me, but never for the amusement of the masses, and the notion of being tarred with the same brush as a bunch of objectionable insects, if you'll forgive the colour contrast, is totally anathema.
Still, the fact that a destructive interloper is equated with Americans may yet be of some use. As Condoleezza Rice
embarks on her round of 'meet the leaders
', she should take note that they haven't named one of the pests that plague the paddies after her. So far, this is only a farmers' jihad
And talking of insects, Australia will host Indonesia in a friendly international at Easter to raise money for victims of the Asian tsunami. The match will be played at Perth on March 29, just three days after Australia's friendly with Iraq in Sydney.
These are football matches, so both Iraq and Indonesia may win which would be good diplomacy.
Luckily, these aren't cricket matches.
P.S. Comment from reader N. in Oman
In 2003 I was working on a small island out in the Flores Sea and gradually picked up some of the local language (Bahasa Sama-Bajo). I came to realise that the likable and respected woman living directly across the road was known to everyone, including me, as "Black". Her skin was perhaps a little darker than average, but the locals, being fisherfolk often out in the sun, none of them were anything like kopi susu (milky coffee). Once I understood the name I was uneasy with it, but there was no known alternative. My conclusion was that there was nothing invidious in the name as far as those people were concerned.
There has recently been some debate in Malaysia as to whether the term "Kling" or "Keling" should be banned. For many it has the connotation "darky", though in origin it only specified people from a region of India. There are several Kampung Keling, Labuan Keling, etc in coastal towns and cities of Indonesia. To rename them would be to efface a part of Indonesia's history.
I would value further comments. Am I, after 17+ years here, still being over-sensitive? Certainly having a dark skin is even less desirable; otherwise there wouldn't be such a market for skin whiteners. That the Indonesian Director of Horticultural Protection should talk about 'undesirable perceptions' is an indication of general unease at the use of the word bule.
Or was it 'Amerika'?