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Wai Daba

Uma Lulik: Wai Daba

Major spring and lake in the Wai Daba spring complex, Berecoli. Its water channels fed many rice fields. The ancestor named Ono Daba found this place and when re recited a prayer the water began to gush forth from the spring.

The spring's custodian tells the story of the ongoing significance of Wai Daba and the history of colonial change in the Baucau district: 

What is important here is water. Our forebears were able to produce fields, rice and plantations because of this water. Our rice fields are old. In monarchical times before the Portuguese arrived we already had them. We had no buffalo or horses, we would prepare the fields by dragging rocks through them. We would make a place and tie a rope to a piece of limestone and drag it around to make the soil muddy. There were no animals. And there were only a small amount of rice fields. These original rice fields were all named. When the Portuguese arrived [in the early twentieth century] they were recorded in a book of tax records, but when our sacred house was burnt down [in the Indonesian era] that book was lost.[i] In the past my aunt who married a Chinese in Baucau would pay the tax for this land. Her husband worked with the Portuguese administrators and he would collect the tax for them. The Portuguese sent only the children of the rulers to school—this was a kind of politics. If this hadn't been the case we would all be smart by now. Berecoli is the heart of the Waima'a lands which stretched from here to the top of Matebian and across to Vemasse. While now these lands are largely dominated by the Makasae, it was the Portuguese that carved up the land. 

[i] This book of records is important in the context of a current dispute over rights to particular rice fields between the custodians of the land and waters and the descendents of others from Quelicai. In the early twentieth century, the latter were 'invited' in (through sacred agreement with a liurai from Quelicai) to farm in the area.
Type of spring
Spring Complex
Other name
Wai Daba Medai Daime
Waima'a: 'lake water' (Tetum: bee debu)
Image file


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