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Maybe it’s about time Mt Wilhelm had a name change

Wilhelm_von_BismarckCHRIS OVERLAND

OTTO Von Bismarck was a giant figure in German history and it was quite a good political move by the early colonists of Papua New Guinea to name a distant mountain range in his honour.

But I think naming PNG's tallest mountain, Mt Wilhelm, after his son (pictured) constitutes major league sucking up to the great man.

Surely the PNG government could rename the mountain Ende-ewa Kombuglo (The Forbidden Stone).

Not only does this sound a lot better but it would honour the traditions and history of the Simbu people as well.

Mount_WilhelmAustralia has progressively renamed many significant geographic features using words from local Aboriginal dialects.

Thus iconic Ayers Rock became Uluru, the Bungle Bungles became Purnululu and innumerable suburbs and streets now have splendid Aboriginal names.

I cannot see any reason why PNG needs to persist with names conferred by the colonial administration when suitable traditional names exist.


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Pastor Dick Hueter

Hugo Zoeller claimed he named the Bismark peaks on his expedition up the Kabenau River.

I lived at Bongu from 1961-1970, and often crossed the Kabenau.

I read Zoeller's account with interest, and could follow his progress into the mountains. (He turned east where I turned west and got to Shaggy Ridge.)

But he states that he wonders what lies between his vantage point and the Bismark Peaks.

Had he actually been at an altitude where he could see and name those peaks, he would have noticed the Ramu valley.

He would have noticed the flat cloud cover, or the vast area with no mountains. Since he does not notice this, I conclude he did not name the peaks from there, but from a ship in Astrolabe Bay.

I devote a chapter to this in my upcoming book, Bamboo Knives and Rusty Razor Blades.

Karina Murphy

I love this, what has come of this conversation and the renaming?

Peter Kranz

There are many examples (sometimes humorous) of Europeans trying to do the right thing and giving something it's local name but getting the spelling wrong or merely not understanding local languages and pronunciations.

So we ended up with Peking/Beijing; Bombay/Mumbai etc.

And sometimes the locals took the piss. There are rumours that Canberra really means 'woman's breasts' in the local language, and kangaroo means 'what, one of those?' as a bemused local said when was asked what the animal was called.

John Conroy

I have always thought PNG's highest peak was named for Kaiser Wilhelm. If so, that places a very different construction on the matter.

PNG should remember its German colonial history and perhaps this consideration should influence any decision on the matter.

John Kaupa Kamasua

Not a chance...it is part of our history and should and will remain

But it is not wrong to have a local name, many historical relics around the world have two names, one mostly a local name.

Can't think of an example but there are such cases around the world.

Uluru and Ayers Rock, as Chris mentioned. There are many more. Wherever the colonists trod - KJ

Peter Kranz

Francis - I fully support you. Europeans have had a nasty habit of renaming anything they see and ignoring thousands of years of local knowledge.

Incidentally Mt Kosciuszko should really be called Mt Jagungal if Aboriginal heritage is to be respected.

Francis S Nii

Should the name be changed or not and if it is to be changed then to what name?

These questions are what Simbus, as the right people by geographical inheritance, should discuss and consult the local people for their views and input.

I fully support Chris that it's about time the name should be changed to one that has been or to be Simbu and not foreign any more.

I will bring that up at SWA meeting. It will be interesting to hear from the landlords like Arnold Mundua and the likes.

Peter Kranz

Rose suggests Mt Sugl Wei

Michael Dom

Whats to discuss Francis?

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

Chris, I think the local name for Mt. Wilhelm is Ke Kombuglo. Ende-ewa Kombuglo is referred to as an abyss where the death go to reside and continue the next journey of their life. Hence, Ende-ewa Kombuglo equates to heaven; not necessarily Mt. Wilhelm (Ke Kombuglo).

Francis S Nii

Excellent and evocative suggestion, Chris. I am sure Simbus will discuss the idea further and come up with an answer sometime soon.

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