Timor-Leste and West Timor share similar culture and traditions

Timor-Leste and West Timor share similar culture and traditions


BOBONARO, 15 November 2023 (TATOLI) – The Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Culture (MJEDAK), together with the Authority of Bobonaro Municipality and Belu Regency, organized the 2023 Cross Border Festival to strengthen cultural ties between Timorese and Belo people who share similar traditions and culture.

Hundreds of visitors from Belu Regency attended the four-day festival with the theme “Cultural Exchange to Strengthen Reconciliation.”

The Minister of Youth, Sports, Arts and Culture, Nélio Isaac Sarmento, said that the Festival is very important because it brings together people from both sides in search of their roots.

“We are different countries, but we share one island, and we share the same culture and traditions. Therefore, strengthening our relations and increasing the ties between our peoples is important for our coexistence,” said Isaac.

Isaac encouraged people on both sides to embrace and love each other: “Because we are one people.”

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State for Arts and Culture, Jorge Cristovão, said that it was important to revive and strengthen the ties between the Timorese and the Belo people, which have been maintained for centuries: “Don’t let conflicts divide our ties.”

According to Timor Aid, the people of the Malaka Regency of West Timor claim to be descendants of those who moved from Portuguese East Timor (Timor-Leste) to Indonesian West Timor in the 1900s: “It was during the Manufahi Wars between the Portuguese colonisers and the indigenous people when refugees from Kamanasa, Bolan, Kletek, Suai, and Matai in East Timor arrived in what is now the regency of Malaka in West Timor, they set up traditional villages similar to those of their homeland, using the same names.”

“The similarity can be seen in the layout of the village and the construction methods of their traditional houses. According to some of the elders in the West Timorese villages, cuttings of Banyan trees from the Timor-Leste villages were brought and replanted in the replica villages. These Banyan trees are now fully grown and not only function as the center for ceremonial activities, but also remain a visible sign of the strong bond that the communities have with their villages of origin,” said Timor Aid.


Journalist: Sérgio da Cruz

Editor: Evaristo Soares Martins

Translator: Jose Belarmino De Sá


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