Book review - Role models

The year 2021 is a special year for the Moluccan community in the Netherlands. It is 70 years ago that a large group of Moluccans arrived in the Netherlands. So, in March the community honored the first generation in several ways: during a YouTube live stream show ‘Beta disini’; a live stream concert ‘Cahaya Maluku’ and many more initiatives.


The number 70 is also used in the book Role Models by Ed Leatemia. In his book, the photographer from Rotterdam shared 70 Moluccan success stories. It is his way to honor the first generation who arrived in the Netherlands. At the same time, the book functions as a way to inspire the next generations and motivate them to get the best out of themselves.


It’s common to write a book review after you actually finished the whole book. In this case, I read around 20 stories. Books with short stories like in Role Models works best for me when I grab it, read a few stories, put it away and do the same thing a few days later again. So, I got something to look forward to in the coming weeks.


The book is quite heavy in weight and in my opinion, symbolizes also the heavy and difficult times the first and second generation endured. The respect towards the first generation is also visible in the index. Next to the name of the role model you can find the names of the first generation and the ‘kampong’ they are from.


The first thing that caught my attention is the cover where you already see a glimpse of the variety the 70 Moluccan stories embody. As I leafed through the book I was amazed by the diversity in their professional backgrounds, their stories and how they incorporate ‘being a Moluccan’ in their life. Both in their private life as well as their work. From sports professionals to musicians and writers to marketing professionals... the diversity is tangible.


Each role model is in the spotlight across 4 pages: name, photo, story and quote. The photography stands out because in a split second you know what type of work they do and/or what their passion is. When you look into their eyes you see different emotions: pride, self-confidence, power and in some photos also the vulnerability. When you read the stories, you understand the emotion in the photos even more. All the stories give you a peek at how these people managed to give meaning to their life and how they followed their dreams and passions.


In my opinion, the book is actually a book where the role models also share their life lessons. To strengthen their own lessons, they also shared a quote that fits the path they choose to follow. Some examples of quotes are: “Walk by faith, not by sight”, “Dream, believe, achieve” and “The will must be stronger than the skill”.


During my Bahasa Basudara classes, I used to ask my students to prepare a presentation where they could share their dreams and thoughts without limits. One student shared her passion for diving, in order to protect the marine life around Ambon and another student wanted to be the best teacher in town. In the next class, I will also ask them to think about a quote like this book does. A quote that hopefully will strengthen, inspire and motivate them in times they need it.


Ed Leatemia also ends his foreword with a great quote: “I cannot hope for a better past, but I can build towards a hopeful future”. Inspiring words that could be recognizable for all Moluccan generations in the Netherlands. By creating this book, Ed Leatemia is actually the 71st role model hidden in his own work. Curious already? Via the virtual exhibition set up by Museum Maluku, you can find 14 Role Model portraits.


As mentioned before, 70 is used as a symbolic number for this book. Fortunately, there are many more success stories. Hopefully, this book will inspire a lot of people to create their own success. Big or small. Each success in each person’s life is worth to be celebrated.