Lamafa - The world's last traditional whale hunters

Lamalera’s Lamafa – Papa Petro

Petrus Glau Blikolulong (Papa Petro) – Lamafa by heart

21 years ago I’ve speared my first whale, since then I claim the title of a Lamafa. My ability to go out to sea and pursue a whale is what makes me feel complete. Because it brings life to my family. I feel content and excited when seeking for the whale, not necessarily part of harpooning, but the effort of hunting whether I succeed or not. Being 45 years old I’m a bit young to retire but my brother Antonis Glakais has just killed a whale, so he’s officially allowed to take my position by next year. I have 4 children, all girls. So it’s great Antonis will keep up the Lamafa tradition within our family. I will still be out with Antonis and the crew regurlarly to pursue the mentorship, whilst the heaviness of responsibility will shift to my brother.


Why he believes he coulnd’t kill the whale the other day?

I believe, that there is always a reason. In this case, someone within our clan was mentally not ready to go out to sea that day. Strongly believing our ancestral tales, distractions are the worst for us. And as Lamafa we have to obey strict rules; During the season we are not allowed to sleep in the same room with our children, neither shall we be intimate with our women, only during the weekend. Every small distraction would have an influence on the whale hunt. For example, it is against our sacred tradition as Lamafa to be „haram“ (upset) – This is spiritual not religious. If I’d be upset, then things go wrong. So I always put up a smile and take in whatever comes. Even in case I can’t stand something, I’m simply not allowed to react on it, because someone would feel offended and this would create other issues. However, I’m very content and happy with my life, as I have everything I need. In the future, I aim to educate the youngsters, and motivate them to carry on with our tradition of whaling. Yes, I’m more than ready for this task!!

Lamafa - The world\'s last traditional whale hunters

What has changed within the past decades?

Well, we do use motorboats since roughly 20 years. These „Johnson“ help to drag the Paledang (traditional boats) offshore once a whale is sighted, but we also go fishing with them daily. It needs to be said, that the number of sperm whales we annualy catch has not increased ever since. It’s just more relaxed and easy, because we don’t need to hoise a sail, nor do we have to row around all day long.

Are the Lamalerans aware of what the conservationists are up to?

We know. But we here in Lamalera have a life, and we simply don’t accept people who come in and can’t understand what this is all about – This here is survival!

What would happen if they together with the Indonesian government would ban the hunts?

Then, we’re ready to die!! Our lifes depend on these whales and our age-old ability to hunt. Because already our ancestors did so, we do so. We Lamaleran’s believe, that the whales are gifts from the ancestors, who encourage us descendants to carry on with the hunts.

Lamafa - The world\'s last traditional whale hunters

What is it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is it; what cozening, hidden lord and master, and cruel, remorseless emperor commands me; that against all natural loving and longings, I so keep pushing, and crowding, and jamming myself on all the time; recklessly making me ready to do what in my own proper, natural heart, I durst not so much as dare Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Lamafa - The world\'s last traditional whale hunters