For President Joko Widodo, family is an extraordinary source of energy, as we learn in the first of this two-part series

It is not without reason that President Joko Widodo was willing to take part in the opening ceremony of the recent 2018 Asian Games, which proved to be both lively and spectacular. Apparently driving a large motorcycle and sporting a leather biker’s jacket, Jokowi drove to the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium where the event was held. His unconventional stunts were considered successful and impressed millions, immediately making his name a trending topic on social media and on the world’s political stage. Hundreds of comments from local and foreign media were penned and cemented his position as a popular leader—yet still down-to-earth and close to the people.

Since being elected president, Jokowi has indeed acted like a powerful magnet that has wrought huge change in Indonesia, such as his and his ministers’ action on the most serious problems facing the Indonesian economy, which slowly but surely managed to force the US dollar to kneel at the feet of the rupiah.

Meanwhile, various forms of political communication, from “dining table politics” to sipping tea on the palace veranda to wearing a sarong as a symbol of the santri in the country, have been successful in changing the perception of the presidential palace that had previously been described as full of formality and protocol. Jokowi has an aura of straightforwardness: without make-up, polished politics, or falsehood. He presents himself as he is.

Another thing that might amaze the minds of many is Jokowi’s stamina, which is extraordinary. In the morning, he might be spotted in one place; later in the evening, he could be on another island or indeed in another country. In the afternoon, he might mingle with a particular community; in the evening, he may gather with a different group of people—and often people from different professions.

Tatler Asia
Above Jan sits snugly in President Jokowi’s arms

Jokowi’s energy seems endless. At every occasion he attends, he always smiles from ear to ear. Flu and fever seem unable to deter his performance. At all events, people cheer for him, and in turn he sincerely enjoys mingling among people from all walks of life. The question is: where does all that energy come from?

The answer is his family, which always acts as a never-ending source of energy for Jokowi and gives him motivation and the power to work for the nation. His family is an oasis for Jokowi; a warm ray of light in his journey of joy and sorrow with the people. Family is his most valuable asset. Jokowi has Iriana, an unpretentious woman who is faithful in accompanying him as head of state and as the head of the family. Without hesitation, Iriana spontaneously attends to the president’s buttons and ties at events.

Jokowi has Kaesang Pangarep, the banana nugget boss who often makes vlogs with him. He has Kahiyang Ayu who, together with Bobby Nasution, gave Jokowi his second grandson. He also has Gibran Rakabuming and Selvi Ananda, who have given him one adorable grandson born on March 10, 2016. Named Jan Ethes, in recent months he has captured the attention of the public because of his fun and surprising behaviour. Although Jan is not yet able to speak fluently, his charming appeal sparks colourful joy. Jokowi himself always looks happy enjoying his role and duties as a grandfather—a role that every father always hopes for and is proud of.

During his free time—and even at a few state events—Jokowi often appears holding his grandson’s little hands, and is clearly delighted to play and joke around with Jan. His little hands seem to give the president positive energy, which is undoubtedly one of the things that gives Jokowi his extraordinary physical stamina and a work ethos that is difficult for others to match.

Not surprisingly, Jokowi was a little annoyed when his opponents ran out of political steam and attacked him by questioning the presence of Jan Ethes, who turned out to be more popular than these opponents. Unwilling to see his grandson get dragged into the vortex of political currents, Jokowi retorted: “Is it wrong if I play with my own grandson?”

This is the passion of a grandfather who loves his grandson very much—a very human trait. It may be incidental that this grandfather is also the president of a huge country who is now respected by the global community. His love of Jan Ethes has almost become a symbol of Jokowi’s love of innocence, sincerity, honesty, and authenticity—the helplessness of unfortunate people, as well as the bright hopes of the future of a child. This closeness similarly represents a symbol of the president’s familiarity with underprivileged people, for whom he is always fighting.

Wives, children, and grandchildren are like the morning sun that gives Jokowi a sense of peace amid a political frenzy full of intrigue, competition, and tactics to gain power. Peace in the family is the door to the beginning of a successful voyage in life, as noted by Mother Teresa: before you get busy initiating world peace, first live, love, and bring warmth to your family.

Jan Ethes Srinarendra is the embodiment of family, and Indonesia deserves to be grateful to this cute little boy whose hands always brings calmness to his grandfather, President Joko Widodo. This man faces the challenges of bringing and uniting a more powerful, independent, and advanced Indonesia in the eyes of the international community. He has the most excellent and life-affirming reasons to do so.

This article first appeared on Indonesia Tatler.