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When the white men came

Auditorium and mess at Mougulu High School (Sally Lloyd)
Auditorium and mess at Mougulu High School (Sally Lloyd)

PETER DWYER & MONICA MINNEGAL

With a rare and wonderful book. Download here: 'Taim Bipo - People of the Nomad District. When the White Men Came'

MELBOURNE - In late January 2020, Bedamuni (Biami) people hosted an inaugural Strickland, Sisa, Bosavi cultural festival.

There were guests and performers from all neighbouring language groups.

At the same time, local people and visiting expatriates celebrated the more than 50 years of service that Tom and Salome Hoey have dedicated to the people who live in this region.

That celebration had been delayed by the devastating earthquake of late February 2018.

Tom and Salome have made airstrips, wire suspension foot bridges and a small hydro-electricity plant. They have contributed enormously to health and education needs and, through all those years, served as Christian missionaries.

In his spare time – not that he ever had any – Tom translated the Bible into the Bedamuni language.

This month, a high school opened at the Bedamuni village of Mougulu to serve students from the Nomad District.

It has entailed a huge amount of mostly volunteer work by both local people and committed Australians. They have built class rooms, teachers’ houses, dormitories and toilets.

Sally Lloyd, daughter to Tom and Salome Hoey, has been endlessly busy organising workers, chasing funds, lobbying politicians and, at last, is seeing her long-term hope come to fruition.

This is the first high school in the Nomad district. Previously, students seeking formal education at high school level had to find their way to Kiunga or the highlands, an almost impossible few hundred kina by air or five days by foot.

Building the school at Mougulu (Sally Lloyd)
Building the school at Mougulu (Sally Lloyd)

A school at Mougulu will provide greatly improved educational possibilities for everyone, especially for girls.

As a potential resource for students and teachers, we have written an account of the early history of contact in the Nomad district: ‘Taim bipo: People of the Nomad District, when the white men came’.

This small book provides a brief history of the earliest visits to the Nomad River district by white men.

The period covered starts in 1885 when white men reach the junction of the Murray and Strickland Rivers and finishes in 1967 when a government station has been established at Nomad but white Christian missionaries have not yet come to live.

The book is written to mark the opening in 2020 of a high school at Mougulu. And it is written as a contribution to all the students and teachers who will attend that school. It tells part of the history of the Nomad District.

It records early memories by white men who visited but did not stay.

The parents and grandparents of students at the new school will share some of those memories but they will also have other memories. Those other memories will be different for people who speak different languages – Edolo, Bedamuni, Odoodee, Gobasi, Samo, Kubo, Febi and others.

Perhaps this small book will encourage students to write the history that is remembered by their own parents and grandparents.

The book includes many photographs, most by former kiap, Bob Hoad. We are providing a package of printed copies to the people at Mougulu.

What we have written may interest kiaps and other people, who spent time at Nomad.

Download 'Taim Bipo - People of the Nomad District. When the White Men Came'

Comments

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Philip Fitzpatrick

A great little book Peter and Monica. Bob Hoad's photographs are great and so are the maps.

And congratulations to Sally for all her hard work coming to fruition. The view from the high school auditorium looks disarmingly like the view from a Bedamuni longhouse.

I never thought I'd ever see a Bedamuni(?) woman weilding an electric drill. How times change.

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