If Malaysia to Indonesia is like its brother, then Tonga is like its second cousin.


Rarely making the news, let alone the headline, the small South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga became the talk of the town in only one night due to the 2022 Tonga eruption.

The eruption happened only 65 kilometers north of Tonga's main island, Tongatapu. It caused tsunamis not only in the small island nation of Tonga itself but also in Fiji, American Samoa, with tsunami warnings issued by the governments of Wallis and Futuna, Vanuatu, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Russia, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Ecuador. Damage caused by tsunami waves has even been reported in Chile and Peru.

A Tongan drum show in Honolulu: Courtesy of Ramirez


The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that at least five citizens of Indonesia lived in the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa when the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano erupted on Saturday afternoon. The current state of the five people is currently unknown.

"Their conditions are not yet known as the communication [with Tonga] has been cut off," said ministry official Judha Nugraha on Sunday.

The total number of casualties caused by the one-in-a-million-year event is not yet known. The only reports so far came from Peru, in which two were found dead due to the tsunami. At least three people were injured in the U.S., while one was reported to be injured in Japan.

Who are the Tongans?

The Kingdom of Tonga is an archipelago comprising 168 islands (it used to be 169, but the eruption completely destroyed one of them), of which only 36 were inhabited up until the tsunami. The country has a population of about 105,000 people, 97.03 percent of whom are ethnic Tongans.

The ethnic Tongans speak the Tongan language, a member of the Polynesian branch of the Malayo-Polynesian language sub-family, the same sub-family encompassing the Indonesian language and many other languages in the Nusantara archipelago, all of which are part of the Austronesian language family.

If Malaysia to Indonesia is like its brother, and the Philippines is like its cousin, then Tonga is like its second cousin. The ancestors of the peoples that now inhabit Indonesia went through the same waves of migration out of Taiwan as the ancestors of the Tongans several thousands of years ago.

A group of Tongans preparing for a traditional dance show: Courtesy of Waqa


If you are not convinced, compare the Tongan numeral with several other numerals below. Counting from one to 10, the numerals are as follows:

Tongan: taha, ua, tolu, fā, nima, ono, fitu, value, hiva, hongofulu
Indonesian: satu, dua, tiga, empat, lima, enam, tujuh, delapan, sembilan, sepuluh
Sundanese: hiji, dua, tilu, opat, lima, genep, tujuh, dalapan, salapan, sapuluh
Javanese: siji, loro, telu, papat, lima, enem, pitu, wolu, sanga

The ancestors of the people that now inhabit Tonga sailed the same outrigger boats our ancestors used to navigate the South China Sea and the Philippines to reach Indonesia. There are many aspects of their culture that are very similar to ours. Sadly, despite our shared ancestry, it has not been confirmed whether Indonesia will send help once the severity of the damage caused by the eruption and tsunami is confirmed.



#THE S MEDIA #Media Milenial #Tonga #Indonesia #Austronesian #Malayo-Polynesian #Tonga Eruption #2022 Tonga Eruption