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Sil Bolkin’s ‘The Flight of Galkope’ is launched in Canberra

CRAWFORD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY | Australian National University

Flight of GalkopeTHE PNG HIGH COMMISSION IN CANBERRA was yesterday the scene of the much-awaited launch of Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin’s book, The Flight of Galkope.

Sil was born in the Galkope area of Simbu Province in Papua New Guinea. He studied to become a Catholic priest but quit soon after completing his philosophical studies and attended the University of Papua New Guinea.

He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Development and Anthropology and is now studying policy and governance at Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University.

A son of the Galkope, Sil Bolkin spent several years trekking through his traditional homeland talking to people about their origins. The primary focuses of his enquiries were the traditional men’s houses, where elders and sages of the Galkope recounted, interpreted and handed down stories from the past.

Through these old men it was possible to delve back several hundred years into the mists of time and memory to the very moments of the inception of the Galkope as a distinct people and nation.

From the time when Luis Vaez Torres first touched the southern shores of Papua and when mythical beings and legendary warriors touched shoulders in the high mountainous interior the story is brought slowly and carefully forward to the near present when the Galkope began their flight to the four corners of PNG in a great diaspora.

The journey includes the exploits of legendary explorer and founder, Alai Bia, and his quest for new lands, the story of Warmil and his spirit-wife, and Sipa, the munificent half-man, half-raptor.

It moves through to the arrival of the first Christian missionaries and the eventual disintegration of the Galkope under the incessant plague of inter-tribal warfare and the bane of the new politics and economic imperatives of an independent Papua New Guinea.

Today over half of the Galkope live outside Simbu. The importance of men’s houses and the sages has diminished to almost nothing. The magnificent valleys and mountains now sit in the aura of a silent sun and the rivers and streams flow over the pebbles of a lost time. Soon there will be no memories at all.

The Flight of Galkope is a last ditch attempt to salvage those memories and render them in a form for the modern age so that those Galkope, no matter where they now live, will be able to understand where they come from and what made them.

It is a well-worn cliché that to understand the present one must understand the past. For the Galkope this may now be possible through Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin’s meticulously researched and distinctly Papua New Guinean historical account. It is, perhaps, something that other people in Papua New Guinea might consider and reflect upon for their future too.


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Kindin Ongugo

Brilliant work. Congratulations.

Francis S Nii

Well done Bro. Simbus are proud of you. Congratulations!

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