Dying for a cause (The Lihir Destiny)
The sweet fragrance of youth

Dogura & his kundu – a connection with a receding past

Kundu at Morobe ShowCAROLINE EVARI

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Award for Tourism, Arts & Culture

I used to feel annoyed whenever my grandfather, Dogura, took out his kundu and started chanting his old songs.

The beat of the ancient kundu was just noise to my ears. I could not understand why he loved it so much.

He would tell the little children in the neighborhood to round up the oldies to chat with him over a plastic of betel nut and five minutes later they would all be chorusing one of their favourite tunes while Dogura majestically beat his kundu.

Not every old man in the neighbourhood had a kundu. Dogura treasured his more than he did his grandchildren.

He would never lend it to anyone but was also always keen in joining every traditional ceremony and gathering where beating the kundu was involved.

He was equally eager to dress up in his traditional attire, his favourite piece of apparel being the headdress which he said was the most attractive thing on his body.

The sway of the headdress complemented the beat of the kundu every time he danced. He didn’t care that the design on the tapa cloth he wore had faded or that the leaves on this body were not lubricated properly in coconut cream to give them a sweet fragrance.

Dogura’s main focus was on his hand beating the kundu and the headdress moving in perfect unison.

Whenever he was bored, stressed or feeling of low self-esteem, he would take out his kundu. It was his closest friend. And, even though the beat and his voice sounded ancient to my ears, I sensed that this was a great expression of emotion and connection.  

The rhythm and intonation created the most peaceful atmosphere. This was a most beautiful aspect of this ancient music.

Dogura is my last grandfather alive. One day I will miss his enthusiastic spirit and tales of traditional festivals and gatherings where he was always accompanied by his kundu, and I will miss the ancient music.


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