THE people of Ganige in the Kerowagi District of Simbu hosted a three-day river festival in late November that featured traditional singsings, local brass and bamboo bands, traditional Simbu flute playing (Kuakumba) and a variety of money-making activities such as face-painting and food stalls.
It was a river festival in the proper sense of the word, with the Ganige River as the main stage of activities.
Adding to the mirth were water-splashing sports including basketball and volleyball, dog racing, diving for coins and pot washing.
Two cane bridges were built with the assistance of experts from Kompiam in Enga Province.
Ambassador Henry Chiu, of the Taiwan Trade Mission and Simbu Governor Noah Kool were guests of honour at the festival and walked over one of the cane bridges to receive a water welcome.
Ambassador Chiu, in his keynote address, advised the people of Ganige to uphold law and order if they wanted progress in their community.
Dr Jane Awi together with Wanpis Paul and Simon Awi, the main organisers of the festival, said it was part of an initiative to redevelop a community that had a history of tribal fighting and problems of alcohol and drug abuse.
Former MP for Kerowagi, Guma Wau, in his capacity as Police Minister in a previous government, had been instrumental in building a police barracks at Ganige primarily to have a police presence in the area as a deterrence measure.
The recently-established communal movement led by Dr Awi, a lecturer at the University of Goroka , involves regular weekly clean-ups of public spaces as part of a drive to support respect for law and order as well as create a positive image of the people of Ganige.
A community police brigade, consisting of 12 young men of Ganige, were presented to the community and a memorandum of understanding between the Police Department and the Simbu Provincial Government was signed.
The river festival was intended to further consolidate this positive drive as well as provide for the people an opportunity for celebration.
Dr Jacob Simet, the Director of the National Cultural Commission, promised the Ganige people that he would consider having the festival on the national tourism and cultural events calendar if the people were prepared to host it regularly.
Dr Matthew Landu is a lecturer in biology at the University of Goroka. He was part of an interdisciplinary team that documented the festival