Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nijmegen the Oldest City

Nijmegen, housing about 150.000 citizens, is the oldest city in The Netherlands and was already of some importance in the Roman era, when a fortress occupied this site. Still, its main monument, the largely demolished Valkhof, is medieval. The Carolingian Chapel was built after Charlemagne’s Palatine Chapel in Aachen (Germany) as a symbol of the importance of this city as one of the principal seats of the administration of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1155 the complex was altered by Barbarossa. Today there’s a debate going whether or not to (partly) rebuild the ruins. Other sites are the weighing house and St. Stephen's church. This city on the Waal is a regional centre. It has a small but lively center with lots of shops.

At night the students make it their own town. Every summer there is a four days long walking event called 'De Vierdaagse Wandelmarsen Nijmegen'. This event is supported by another event, the 'Vierdaagse-feesten' (Vierdaagse-party), which is one of the largest open-air (musical/funfare) events in the Netherlands. It usually does not only attract local artists, but also well known international artists (and entrance is free!).

Near the end of World War II, Nijmegen was bombed by the allies by mistake: After the war Nijmegen has been rebuilt, however, in a new, modern form, resulting in a somewhat uncharacteristic citycenter. There are just a few old buildings left, like 'de Waag' at market square, and St. Stephen's church. Nevertheless, Nijmegen still offers a very good atmosphere.

Should you wish a relaxing day, you could go for a walk in the Goffertpark. This park is in the geograpihical center of the city and also houses the local professional soccer club, NEC. In the near surroundings of Nijmegen, there are some beautiful villages like Berg en Dal and Groesbeek, which are good areas for going for a walk as well. Celebrating 2000 years as a city in 2005, Nijmegen history is long and storied. As the oldest city in the Netherlands and located just 10 km from Germany, the city gets its name from a word of Roman origin meaning "new market." Once the home to Charlemagne's castle, this beautiful location historically marked the northern frontier of Rome's empire.

The Roman Period

Because of the strategic location of the city overlooking both the Waal and Rhine valley, Nijmegen has long been a prime choice throughout time as the home to many kings and other rulers as their central residence. Starting as a Roman military camp in 1 B.C., the city grew and flourished under Roman control until in 1247 when it was used as collateral for a loan to the Count of Guelders and was ultimately lost when the loan remained unpaid. The city however continued to grow and flourish in trade and the arts because of its great location.

A Fortified City

From its beginnings, Nijmegen had been a fortified city and the scene of many large battles. In 1879, to make way for the city's increasing prosperity, the defenses of the old city were finally removed as they had become obsolete by that time and the city required more room for new growth. In the course of a few decades after the wall's removal, the city became equipped with gas, water and electrical mains and a bridge across the Waal river was completed.

World War II

By 1940, Nijimegen was under control of the German army, making it the fist Dutch city taken in World War II. Nijmegen was mistakenly hit in an attack by allied forces during World War II, killing over 800 residents of the city. The city was liberated a few months later in an operation that freed the southern Netherlands. A new city center was built and many resources were used in the coming years to rebuild the city which had been badly damaged.

The Modern City

Today there is little evidence from the buildings of the city that show Nijmegen's past. Any buildings that were not destroyed in the bombing of the city in 1944 were shelled in the follow-up that led to the liberation of the city or destroyed in the following decades to make way for more modern structures. There are a few remains throughout the city dating back as far as the 13th century that are great to explore during your trip to Nijmegen. (jacko_agun)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mira Media and Ethnic Minority

WHEN a Moslem extremist gunned down the Dutch film director, Theo van Gogh, in November 2004, media in the Netherlands then turned to look for knowledge and perspective about Islam, Sharmila Badloe, coordinator of the Media Prof Network with Mira Media, said.

“Most of the media [here] only have the ‘white’ perspective, they don’t know about Islam. But then they think [to write a comprehensive story on the murder] they need to know about it,” she said.

To promote the importance of involving professionals from various ethnic backgrounds in the mainstream media is the core work and objective of Mira Media established since 1986.

Mira media has committed to bring diversity and pluralism in the media organizations in the Netherlands. Because even in a modern country like the Netherlands, pushing media companies to employ qualified ethnic media professionals is not easy.

Sharmila estimated the number of media professionals from non-western background in the Netherlands media is very tiny, “less than five percents,” she cited.

In average, there are only five or even less ethnic media professionals in a newsroom that has a hundred staffers in total, she added. The number doesn’t even equal, compare to the total ethnic population that stands at around 11 percent of about 16 million Holland Population.

“Intelligence does not have something to do with discrimination. You can have a high IQ, but you can be still very narrow-minded. Discrimination, it’s something you cannot totally get rid of,” she said.

To achieve the equality in the media, Mira Media – the government and European Union-funded organization – pushing some strategies. Not only advising talented journalists to get job in the media, but also conducting trainings to journalists and students on diversity issues.

Mira Media also initiated network meetings, debates, experts meetings and conferences. They also have set several websites and ethnic communities to support the group.

Susan Bink, a desk researcher, said at the moment, Mira Media is distributing online newsletter, magazine, and running another website called or literally means world journalists – where media professionals are invited to write on diversity issues in the Netherlands.

Mira Media also initiated an establishment of a commercial company Media Shakers that offers advises for those who need jobs in the media.

However, Mira Media admitted that the lack knowledge of media organizations of many ethnic media professionals present in the Netherlands that have the quality of good journalists as well as discrimination in the offices remain a problem.

Badloe stated concerns are not over after an ethnic professional gets in a media business, but furthermore, on how to make them stay.

Several ethnic minorities publications, including magazines
“Ethnic media professionals do recognize us, but not the mainstream, that’s something we should keep working on,” Badloe said.

Despite the odds, Mira Media is confident that through hard works they will be able to promote qualified ethnic media professionals better in the future.

Both Badloe and Bink believe in the future there will be more ethnic professionals in the televisions, radios, print and online medias in the Netherlands. And as its name, the media in the Netherlands will truly be a “mira” or a mirror of the society. (Anita/Anta/Jacko)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Glance of Queen's Day in Bussum Zuid

From Indonesia, I was reminded by my collage about a special moment in the Netherlands. The Queen's Day, he called it. He said, if you’re lucky, you can get a lot of goods with cheap price. Off course, you have to bargain a little bit.

Since then, I promised myself to attend this historical celebration. It’s happened at April 30th 2010. Unfortunately, that day, it was raining. My collage and I went out anyway from hotel to see the crowd. I want to see it with my own eyes. I want to get involved in the annual celebration and honored the citizens of the Netherlands. But it was cold; the temperature was 10-12 Celsius. Initially, it’s quite difficult for us, because the rain made our bodies shiver, especially once we set foot in Central Bussum Zuid, where the celebration was held.

We choose to go to Bussum Zuid, because it’s closer from our hotel. And some people said that the second-hand goods that are sold here is in good condition. I guess the reason is because Bussum Zuid is known to be an elite area, that’s why they have good quality items to sell. Walking around to the Centrum of Bussum Zuid was not complicated like Amsterdam's, which is famous with its traffic jam.

Less than half an hour, I found several things with low prices, ranging from 50 cents to 2 euros. I got items, like clothes, shoes to school bags for children. I got everything in a relatively quick bargain.

I found the second hand bazaar very interesting. To me, the most unique thing in this bargaining process is that every child whose belongings being sold, has to always give their consent. If they don’t agree with the price, the goods wouldn’t be sold. Here the child plays an important role.

In one corner of streets in Central Bussum Zuid, we found an art performance. It attracted the attention of many people. They performed traditional songs and dances in a specially designed stage. Meanwhile, on the other corner, hundreds of young people use orange outfits –typical of the Netherlands - meets and greets cheerfully while holding a typical Dutch beer. They gathered until late in the afternoon.

The bazaar also was very crowded until evening. Off course, the amount of goods sold decrease substantially. But, they eventually have to close their shops. Many people, who don’t want to bother with the remains, just leave it by the roadside. If you’re lucky, you can pick it up for free.


Maybe some of you --who are not Dutch-- are wandering what really happened in April 30th? This date was celebrated as the birthday of Queen Juliana, mother of Queen Beatrix --who rules the country today. The queen's birthday is celebrated nationally since the days of Queen Wihelmina. At the time, the celebration was held according to the date of Queen Wihelmina’s birthday, which is dated August 31, 1885.

The date changed since 1949, when Queen Juliana took over the crown. That’s when the Queen's day started to be celebrated every April 30th. Oddly, when her daughter, Queen Beatrix ascended to the throne in 1980, the tradition didn’t change. The queen's day still celebrated every April 30, even though Queen Beatrix herself was born on January 31. Some said, this decision is a tribute to Beatrix’s mother, Queen Juliana.

The Queen's day is celebrated everywhere in the Netherlands. Festivals begin in the night of April 29th. In big cities, like Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam, people celebrate with live music, party and night bazaar. The young people usually enjoy the day by drinking beers until late in the evening.

In Queen's Day, Queen Beatrix and the royal family members usually go out from their palace to greet the people. The occasion usually followed by a brief tour to other cities across the Netherlands.

Queen's Day celebration reaches its peak in the city of Amsterdam. People from all over the country come to Netherlands. Unfortunately, they have to walk everywhere, because the tram and other public vehicles is off that day. (Jacko Agun)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Menyusuri Keindahan Gooisland

Menikmati keindahan Gooisland di negara kincir angin telah memberi kesan tersendiri bagi pelancong seperti saya. Danau-danau berserakan ditingkahi jalanan kecil membelah hutan yang sering dilalui para pejalan kaki dan pesepeda menjadi ciri khas yang membedakannya dengan tempat lain di Belanda.

Gooisland merupakan salah satu kawasan hijau di Belanda, tepatnya di kota Hilversum berjarak sekitar 30 km ke selatan Amsterdam dan 20 km dari Utrecht. Kawasan ini dikelilingi perbukitan berlanskap hijau.

Hilversum sendiri dikenal sebagai "kota media" karena merupakan pusat penyiaran radio dan televisi di Belanda, salah satunya Radio Netheerland. Radio ini telah memancarkan gelombang pendek ke seluruh dunia sejak tahun 1920. Hilversum kini menjadi komplek bagi banyak stasiun televisi lokal dan nasional di Belanda.

Industri penyiaran di Het Gooi mulai berkembang setelah NSF (Nederlandse Seintoestellen Fabriek) sebagai penyedia alat-alat broadcasting dibangun di Hilversum pada tahun 1918. Secara perlahan, industri ini mulai berkembang ke kota-kota lain di dekatnya. Di Belanda sendiri, siaran televisi pertama dimulai di Bussum. Hari ini, penyiaran publik di Belanda memiliki kantor dan studio di seluruh wilayah tersebut.

Sejarah Awal

Di belanda, nama "Gooi" terkait dengan kata "Gouw" (Bahasa Belanda: Gau) berfungsi untuk menyebut sesuatu yang kuno dan bersifat tradisi bagi suatu daerah. Secara konvensional dalam bahasa Belanda mereka menyebutnya "Het Gooi" yang lama kelamaan berubah menjadi "Gooiland" (bahasa Inggris: Gooisland) dimana orang-orang dari Het Gooi disebut "Gooiers".

Orang-orang Gooiers terkenal karena cara mereka mengucapkan "r" sebelum bunyi vokal dan pada akhir suku kata. R dalam satu kata seperti "drie" tidak diucapkan seperti bahasa Belanda pada umumnya. R pada akhir suku kata untuk pengucapan "daardoor" terdengar seperti "daahdooh". Banyak orang Belanda menganggap aksen ini agak mengganggu, karena bukan dialek lokal. Pola perubahan kata ini terjadi dari orang-orang yang telah pindah ke Het Gooi dari Amsterdam dan tempat lain.

Secara administratif, Het Gooi (Gooisland) berada di daerah Hilversum di sudut tenggara provinsi North Holland. Secara umum, batas-batasnya tidak jelas, namun dulunya Gooisland mengacu pada area yang terletak di provinsi North Holland. Seringkali istilah ini digunakan untuk merujuk pada beberapa kota terdekat seperti: Hilversum (pusat kawasan dan kota terbesar) , Huizen, Bussum, Naarden, Laren dan Blaricum.

Awalnya daerah Gooi ditutupi oleh kawasan hutan dan padang rumput yang sekelilingnya merupakan rawa-rawa berbahaya yang kemudian menjadi penghalang alami sehingga terisolir dari kawasan Utrecht. Saat ini masih banyak ditemukan variasi landskap aneka rupa di kawasan Gooi. Umumnya pemandangan disini didominasi oleh bukit kering berpasir. Sedangkan pada bagian timur dan barat ditemukan dataran basah berisi padang rumput. Perubahan elevasi tanah dan transisi dari basah ke kering menjadi hal penting terhadap perkembangan ekosistem.

Vegetasi di daerah ini umumnya merupakan hutan gugur dari jenis konifera, lengkap dengan padang rumput disertai pasir. Masyarakat sekitar pun menggunakan tanah di kawasan ini sebagai bahan untuk bercocok tanam.
Sedangkan hutan dan semak dibiarkan liar hingga sekarang, seperti: Spanderswoud, Heide Hilversumse, Heide Hoorneboegse dan Heide Bussumer. Kawasan tersebut kini menjadi kawasan konservasi yang berada di bawah pengelolaan Yayasan Cagar Alam Gooi. Cagar alam ini berfungsi sebagai kawasan penyangga kelangsungan ekosistem. Berbeda dengan pengelolaan kawasan konservasi di Indonesia, kawasan di Belanda kebanyakan dikelola oleh lembaga non pemerintah yang secara reguler menyerahkan hasil kegiatan mereka.


Di kawasan ini, kita bakal menemukan banyak sekali danau yang dalam Bahasa Belanda disebut, Gooimeer. Di bagian utara, misalnya, terdapat Gooimeer yang berasal dari perpanjangan bagian selatan IJsselmeer, sebuah danau dangkal (5-6m) dengan luas 1.100 km² yang berbatasan dengan provinsi Flevoland dan Friesland Utara. Selain itu, gooimeer lain juga ditemukan di Kota Eemnes Weesp yang berada di Het Gooi karena berdekatan dengan sungai Eem.

Sedangkan jika kita mengarah ke barat dan barat daya, akan ditemuakan dua danau yang disebut Danau Loosdrecht (Loosdrechtseplassen) dan Danau Ankeveen (Ankeveenscheplassen).

Saat ini, danau-danau yang ada masih terjaga asri. Jembatan penghubung dibangun melintasi danau guna memudahkan wisatawan melihat dari dekat pesona yang ditawarkannya, ketika cuaca bersahabat. Pun, tak jarang kita akan menemukan aneka satwa air berkeliaran bebas dan berkembang dengan alami.

Di kawasan ini air berkumpul di lokasi yang lebih rendah, berfungsi sebagai sumber air bagi ternak dan masyarakat. Karena rendahnya tingkat kesuburan tanah, kegiatan memelihara ternak, khususnya domba menjadi alternatif geliat ekonomi masyarakat yang akhirnya menjadi kegiatan utama. Lambat laun, perkembangan produksi wol mulai meningkat di tempat ini.

Berkembang Pesat

Sekitar tahun 1300-an, kawasan Het Gooi belum banyak dikenal. Hanya ada beberapa permukiman pertanian yang menggunakan tanah, hutan dan padang terbuka. Baru pada tahun 1500, dan puncaknya pada tahun 1600-an, pasir yang ada dikawasan ini mulai digali untuk perluasan kota Amsterdam. Sebagai gantinya, dibangun sejumlah saluran air di kawasan Graveland, Naarden dan Bussum. Sistem saluran ini yang kemudian menghubungkannya dengan Amsterdam, hingga Hilversum berkembang menjadi pusat produksi wol dan tekstil.

Het Gooi berpusat pada titik paling utara dari formasi geologi yang disebut Utrecht Hill Ridge (Utrechtse Heuvelrug). Daerah ini relatif tinggi karena diapit perbukitan. Titik tertinggi di Het Gooi adalah Tafelberg (36.4 m di atas permukaan laut), terletak di tengah-tengah antara Blaricum dan Huizen.

Sejalan dengan pembuatan kanal, kereta api pun mulai menemukan bentuknya. Orang-orang kaya dari Amsterdam dan Utrecht mulai merambah dengan membangun rumah mereka di daerah ini. Tak ayal, perumahan mulai menjamur, terutamanya untuk kawasan Bussum. Sebagai dampak dari perkembangan jalur kereta api antara Amsterdam dan Amersfoort pada 1874, Hilversum dan Bussum adalah kawasan pertama yang tumbuh.

Pada tahun 1892, setelah jalur trem menghubungkan Laren, Blaricum dan Huizen dibangun, kota tersebut juga mulai berkembang. Pada 1950-an pembangunan jalan raya (A1 dan A27) melanjutkan proses ini.

Het Gooi kini telah menjadi sangat teratur. Kondisi alam dan pesona historisnya telah menjadi daya tarik tersendiri bagi orang-orang dari seluruh penjuru Holland, tak terkecuali dengan pelancong seperti saya untuk mengunjunginya. (jacko agun)

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