An introduction to the Kafetugu people
08 January 2023
PORT MORESBY - A must read for all Bena Benas and other people who have affinity to Bena in the Eastern Highlands.
I write this short appreciation as a Christmas pastime and a dedication to my mother's people. And my Big Bro Bono Fiya, who has relatives there and who speaks the language well.
The Kafetugu people are a group of Bena-speaking people who live right at the border of Henganofi, which is to the east.
In the west is the Ungaii Bena electorate following the Dirty Wara stretch in the Dunatina.
The Kafetugu share land with the Kenemote to the north, the Fayantina to the south, the Kugumo to the east and the Kopafo-Kaiyufa to the west.
The main villages are Svirete, Notomate, Setafi, Pemu Kosa and Krumute, my mother’s people.
What is intriguing about these people is that they speak a unique version of Bena Bena.
This is in stark contrast to the Upper Bena (heavy and deep accent), Lower Bena (lightly accented) and the perculiar Kafetugu version - with the word zga.
This translates as ‘pig’ in the common Bena language and features prominently in most of their words, descriptions and sentences.
For a first timer, you can be mesmerised by this language, draining your stomach to nothing and your eye fluids to desert dry.
Not only that, but you could be taken aback by the unique culture of these people of the greater Bena.
The Kupai or ginger sprouting season is when hell breaks loose, like what happens during the yam festival in the Trobriand Islands.
If you happen to be there during this season, you might consider yourself lucky or unlucky.
Also, unknown to the outside world as well as Papua New Guinea and most of the Highlands, and is an ancient pine forest jungle, Menifa, that is associated with the legend and folklore of the Kafetugu people.
It is extensive with massive, dark and impenetrable undergrowth and towering klinki pine.
It has been in existence long before civilisation.
Myth has it that, if you go in there, you will turn into a Negi (longlong), a person who is dumb and deaf or a madman.
I don’t know if the pines are still in existence today.
I recently learned that Dirty Wara is rich with alluvial gold, which purportedly has its origin in the Soyugu Mountains around Mount Sunuvi.
There is massive gold dredging, panning and buying in exchange for kina as I write.
The same is also true on the Kopafo side at Lsibaga, also emanating from the same Soyugu-Fleyahilise mountains.
We can arrange a site visit should geologists be interested.
Kerry Kimiafa is principal consulting scientist at the PNG Environmental Consulting Agency. If this story arouses interest, the author can be contacted at email@example.com
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