Sukarno (1901-1970), dominant figure of Indonesia’s nationalist movement against the Dutch and the country’s first president (1945-1968). He was toppled following an attempted coup and held under house arrest until his death.
BACKGROUND AND PERSONAL LIFE
Sukarno was born in the city of Surabaya in eastern Java. At the time, Java and the rest of Indonesia were under Dutch colonial control. Although brought up in the traditional Javanese cultural world, Sukarno was educated in modern Dutch colonial schools. In 1921 he entered the Bandung Institute of Technology to study architecture, graduating in 1926. Sukarno had been increasingly involved in nationalist politics since his teens, when he had boarded in the house of H. O. S. Tjokroaminoto, a leading nationalist politician. It was in Bandung that he decided his future lay in politics, not architecture.
By 1926 Sukarno had been married twice, first to Sitti Utari, daughter of Tjokroaminoto, and then, after divorcing her, to Inggit Garnasih. He subsequently married at least four more times, having as many as four wives simultaneously. Though permitted under Islamic law, polygamy was not a common practice in Indonesia, and in the 1950s and 1960s attracted considerable criticism, particularly from women’s organizations.