INDONESIA: Voice of the Kampongs

At dawn one day last week, the people of the Javanese kampong (village) of Tjidjantung began assembling in impassive silence to vote in Indonesia's first national election. Like some 43 million others across the island republic, Tjidjantung's 658 voters were mostly illiterate, indifferent to the issues, but they were plainly conscious of a momentous event.

Nimbly crossing a stream on a log worn smooth by countless bare feet, a mass of moving color in their freshly laundered sarongs, they gathered before the thatched home of the village lurah (leader) to hear an election official explain the proceedings. At least half...

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