"Languages with their own script are not common in this world, hence the Lontara Script Festival is being held as part of our effort to preserve one of the most important traditional heritages of South Sulawesi -- the Lontara script," Upi Asmaradhana, a member of the organizing committee of the festival, said in Makassar on Saturday.
The main focus for this year's Lontara Script Festival is to advocate for the designation of a special status for the Lontara script and to follow up on the committee's recommendation on local culture to the regional authority last year, he informed.
It is hoped that a special status for the Lontara script would boost South Sulawesi residents' pride in their local culture as well as efforts to preserve the traditional script in future, Asmaradhana said.
"We hope that by promoting Lontara script at libraries, government offices, and other places, we will be proud to live with and inherit the script. We hope in the future, South Sulawesi visitors would be greeted by the Lontara script upon passing our welcome gates," he remarked.
At the festival, South Sulawesi Legislature Speaker Andi Ina Kartika Sari concurred that the Lontara script is the pride of South Sulawesi and assured authorities' support for the Lontara script regional bill until its ratification.
"We will play our part to preserve our ancestors' culture by drafting the Lontara script bill. We are also committed to passing the bill and ensuring its implementation upon its enactment," Sari said.
She also affirmed her commitment to overseeing the bill and said it is targeted to be enacted by 2022 so that the Lontara script receives official status by the next Lontara Script Festival.
Philology expert from Makassar's Hasanuddin University, Professor Nurhayati Rahman, who presented the history of the Lontara script during the festival, urged South Sulawesi residents to unite to promote the Lontara script.
Meanwhile, the Regional Library and Archives Agency head Moh Hasan Sanjaya expressed the hope that the Lontara script would become a part of life of South Sulawesi residents.
"It is time the Lontara script is welcomed in its home, and we are proud to support the enactment of the Lontara script law by the authority," Sanjaya said.
This year marked the second time the Lontara Script Festival was held. The festival was organized for the first time in 2020. The 2020 event had attracted international interest and had been attended by around 1,865 participants from 11 countries.
Lontara script is a traditional script native to South Sulawesi, known to be used to write Bugis, Makassarese, and Mandar languages. The script is an abugida composed of 23 letters and traditionally written on palmyra leaves.
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