Free of the Coronavirus: The Story of the Baduy (Kanekes) People, Indonesia

The Baduy, who refer to themselves as the Kanekes (Urang Kanekes or Orang Kanekes), are an indigenous tribe living in the southeastern part of the province of Banten on the island of Java.

Living at the base of the Kendeng Mountains, they are one of a few communities that has had 0 Covid cases in the last year. Indonesia has a population of 270.6 million and has tallied over 28,000 cases since March 2020.

However, the approximately 11,600 Baduy have so far made it through unscathed by the virus.

The Baduy have long avoided outside influences and work hard to maintain their livelihoods independent of mainstream Indonesian society.

Within the community, there are three sub-groups: Baduy Dalam (inner Baduy), Baduy Luar (outer Baduy), and Baduy Dangka.

The Baduy Dalam:

– Adhere to traditional customs and strict rules including no vehicles, footwear, electronic devices or modern clothing.

– Maintain very limited contact with non-Baduy people.

– Protect and care for the natural environment.

The Baduy Luar:

– Serve as physical protectors of the Baduy Dalam.

– More welcoming of technology and modernization.

– They take trips and some work in cities such as Jakarta and Bandung.

The Baduy Dangka:

– Include people living completely outside of the Kanekes customary region.

One of the biggest factors in their Covid success is their respect for and belief in local authority figures.

When the pandemic began, anyone living or traveling outside of the community was told to promptly return home and they did. Furthermore, their territory was quickly closed off to outsiders and no tourists, officials, or journalists have been permitted to enter since May.

Sources:

Hastanto, Ikhwan. “This Tribal Community in Indonesia Claims To Be COVID-Free.” VICE News. January 26, 2021.

“The Baduy of Indonesia.” University of Iowa, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Linguistics.

“Baduy tribe remains free of coronavirus.” Jakarta Post. May 17, 2020.