To preserve our languages & culture we must be bold
Tsutsu: the Buka foot washing ritual of welcome & respect

How civilisation came to Papua New Guinea

ISO YAWI

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

I used to hear the stories of old
The dictated versions of our long history
The narrators instructed me to hold in my heart
And ink them on paper when opportunity unfold
A true inheritance in me I treasured
The stories of how civilisation reached Papua New Guinea

When God’s clock ticked on the right time
Missionaries invaded our mother land
The word of God was held in right hand
And sugar and salt in their left hand
They brought new light to our world
Confrontation of two different parties began

The scenario started slowly and increased
Conversations were exchanged in sign language
Between our forefathers and the missionaries
The dialogue faced difficulty
But the missionaries persisted as hard as they could
Until the peak point was reached

Fear is what both parties had in common
Missionaries heard stories of cannibalism
And our forefathers heard stories of masalai
There is still a tension in each other’s mind

It is a time to take a real stand 
And face the real giant between each other

The missionaries took salt and sugar and tasted it
Then gave some to our forefathers to have a try
The chief went ahead and took it with concentration
He taste it and it was good and he called for others to try
Behold peace was established with a tribe

However some tribes were different
Misunderstanding prevailed
Our forefathers pulled an arrow and pierced the white man’s heart
They killed the missionaries for a meal so tasty
They even ate his shoes and clothes
Behold blood was poured to ensure civilisation

Times passed and our people begun to understand
The significance of the missionaries’ work in our land
Bows and arrows were laid down and people welcomed change
Grass skirts and malo were removed with clothes in replacement
People started school to be educated
And build the country’s civilisation

As time went on our land became the host of a powerful event
The World War II between superpowers of the world
Our people took a stand to survive the tough times
In the midst of gunfire and bombs
Blood poured, lives taken, wounds inflicted
Till the war was over

It took a few more years and independence was guaranteed
It put a smile and tears on our forefathers face
As they stood in silence to see our own new flag raised
It was back then in 16 September 1975
Forty years had passed and here we are now civilized
God bless Papua New Guinea

Masalai - evil spirits hidden in caves, stones, and rivers
Malo - traditional clothing worn by males before white men came to PNG

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