Monday, November 17, 2008

Pinda-Pinda, Lekka-Lekka

Or, on Chinese peanut cookie vendors, Amsterdam, and the national anthem of Indonesia.



According to an article in the Hong Kong Standard, pinda-men, or peanut cookie vendors, were the first Chinese many people in Amsterdam had ever seen. At the onset of the 1930’s, Amsterdam’s small Chinese community consisted mostly of seamen, tucked way in boarding houses when not shipping out. Came the economic depression:

"Then, hard times had hit the small Chinese community. One old man, Ng Kwai, started to sell candies on the street and found that peanut cookies from southern China were a hit. Many of his compatriots soon followed, making the pinda-man into a phenomenon."


This phenomenon was noted and magnified in 1933, when an entertainer who performed under the name of Willy Derby recorded a ditty based on the chant or the pinda-men, Pinda-Pinda, Lekka-Lekka.” “Pinda” means peanut in Dutch and “lekka” means delicious (think “lekker”). This recording met with riotous success in Dutch-speaking parts of the world, including, famously (or infamously depending on where you sit), Indonesia. It is widely believed, it seems, that a little bit of plagiarism transformed this ditty's chorus into Indonesia's natonal anthem, Indonesia Raya. As one website puts it,

"The national anthem of Indonesia ‘Indonesia Raya’ composed by WR Supratman, welknown because his face is on the 50.000 Rp note, which was played for the first time in public on the [previously mentioned] Youth congress is also said to be an imitation of a Dutch song i.e. ‘Pinda, Pinda, Lekka, Lekka’ sung in the 1920’s by Willy Derby, a man who became famous in Indonesia because he is also the composer of ‘Hallo Bandoeng".

This contention is unerstandably controversial, with egos at stake. A ditty in Dutch about a poor Chinese street vendor the inspiraton for Indonesia's national anthem?? Its' been the subject of much discussion in area message boards, with some claiming there is little resemblance between the two songs. One enterprising individual even put together a video for presentation on Youtube comparing, phrase by phrase, the chorus of Pinda-Pinda Lekka-Lekka with Indonesia Raya. You be the judge.



2 comments:

sugabus said...

I quote your own writing (although has no credible reference)

"This phenomenon was noted and magnified in 1933, when an entertainer who performed under the name of Willy Derby recorded a ditty based on the chant or the pinda-men, “Pinda-Pinda, Lekka-Lekka"."

Compare it with this one

"Pinda, Pinda, Lekka, Lekka’ sung in the 1920’s by Willy Derby . . ."

The two statements contradict one each other, especially about the year when the song were composed.

Gary Soup said...

I'm pleased to see that someone actually reads my blog posts!

To tell the truth, I was aware of the contradiction even as I wrote the post, but didn't try to gloss over it as both dates came from seemingly reputable websites, thus enhancing the controversy. You may consider whichever website you like to be "credible." I don't have a dog in that fight.

Another seeming contradiction is that "Indonesia Raya" claims to gave been first sung in 1928, yet according to most accounts the "Pinda Men" didn't appear until the Great Depression. On the other hand, there is no recorded proof that I know of that the "Indonesia Raya" sung in 1928 was the same song as the "Indonesia Raya" that became Indonesia's anthem in 1945