The Rotary Club of Dili Banner

The Rotary Club of Dili banner was discussed and decided upon by a general meeting of members way back in early 2001, and is presented a royal blue background, which is the colour of the sea on most days around the island. The symbols on the banner itself commence with a typical native house as found in the east of the island, and always taken as a symbol of East-Timor. On the other side at the top is a Rotary wheel surrounded by 13 rays of sunshine, representing the 13 administrative districts of East-Timor. In the lower areas of the banner is an outline map of Timor with the portion belonging to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste filled in with the colourful traditional cloth known as ‘Tais’. In 2001 all Club members were quite sure that the new nation would later be officially known as Timor-Lorosa’e (Tetun) or East-Timor (English), no one even thought about the Portuguese version ‘Timor-Leste’, which is why those words do not appear on the banner ‘yet’!

The Crocodile Legend

If you look at a map of Timor island from the air, and use your imagination you might say it is shaped like a crocodile with its tail pointing eastwards. The East Timorese legend has it that ‘once upon a time’ a young boy saved the life of a badly dehydrated crocodile and they became firm friends, going for long trips together out to sea and other lands. As time would have it the old crocodile eventually became too weak to travel and died forming the island of Timor. Since that time crocodiles have become a revered animal among the Timorese, and when crossing a river, villages will call out ‘Crocodile, crocodile, I am your brother (or sister) please look after me as I cross to the other side’. (This is a very condensed version of the actual folk tale.)

Dili and Timor-Leste

After several attempts at other locations along the North coast of Timor island, the Portuguese decided to move their principal settlement from what is now the enclave of Oecussi to the small port of Dili on 10th October 1769. The geographic coordinates are 8° 34’ South and 125° 34’ EastThe port is sheltered from the open waters of the straits by several coral reefs, through which there is really only one entrance. Apparently when originally settled the area was known for the preponderance of Papaya or Paw paw trees. The Tetun word for Papaya being ‘Ai-Dila’ from which the town name of Dili derived. East-Timor is of course the eastern end of the island of Timor and has a land area of some 14,919 Km², with fairly narrow dry coastal fringes along the north coast, and more extensive, and much wetter, coastal plains along the south. However, the hinterland can be steep and hilly, with some peaks aspiring to be called mountains. The highest mountain is named Mt. Tata Mai Lau in the Ramelau range that peaks at 2,964 meters above sea level. East-Timor is administratively divided into 13 Districts, 65 Sub-Districts, 442 Villages and 2,228 kampungs or settlements. The total population at the 2008 census was 1,080,742 people, with 212,469 of those souls being located in Dili. The population basically exists on a subsistence economy of food crops agriculture, however a very large national export earner is a Very Good Grade of Arabica Coffee, and that has been so since around the 1930’s. In fact has only recently been bumped from the top position by Oil/Gas, when that exploration in the Timor Sea, to the south, commenced in around 2004.