JOHOR BARU: WhatsApp has become a popular tool to bridge the gulf between long-lost family members, no matter where they are.
Thanks to the mobile application, the Embah Morsidi clan, which can trace its genealogy back almost a century to Cilacap in Java island, got together for the first time in more than 50 years.
About 500 descendants aged from 18 months to 90 years met at the Malaysian Productivity Council auditorium here on Saturday.
“We started contacting each other via WhatsApp about four months ago and managed to trace about 800 Morsidi family members living all over the country,’’ said Rashid Marsidi.
The 78-year old retired teacher is the grandson of Morsidi Kasan and Maryam Dolkanan, who migrated to Johor Baru in 1930s.
Rashid is the son of Morsidi’s daughter Marwiyah, whose husband Marsidi Muhd Edris came to Johor Baru from Jogjakarta when he was 12 years old.
Rashid said his grandfather and grandmother left their village in Cilacap on a cargo ship with their six children and landed in Singapore before moving to Johor Baru.
“My grandfather was a grave digger at the Jalan Mahmodiah Muslim cemetery while my grandmother sold snacks in front of Johor Zoo,’’ he said, adding Maryam gave birth to another four children here.
Rashid said he was fortunate to be able to meet his late grandfather and had fond memories of him for 25 years before Morsidi passed away in 1963.
Rashid’s brother Datuk Ibrahim Marsidi, 63, said it was not easy to gather 500 family members for the first time.
He said the first reunion gave them the chance to know each other better, adding that some of them had met before but didn’t know that they were related to each other.
Ibrahim, the former Petronas Dagangan Bhd chief executive officer who retired in 2007, said the clan was planning to hold the second reunion by the end of the year and, hopefully, the remaining 300 would also turn up.