Author Daniel Kumbon and Enga bigman Paul Kurai Kiap atop their highlands province
Victory Song of Pingeta’s Daughter by Daniel Kumbon, Independently Published, 2020, 406 pages, colour illustrations, ISBN: 9798562831323. Available from Amazon Australia, AU$74.65 plus AU$3.90 postage (in Australia)
TUMBY BAY - In 1934, at a place called Tole in what is now Enga Province, a man named Pingeta took up his spear and charged down a hill towards the camp of explorer and prospector Michael Leahy and his brother Daniel.
What prompted Pingeta’s action remains unclear. Some people believe that he wanted to launch an attack on the prospectors’ camp to pillage it while other people believe Pingeta was enraged by the apparent invasion of his lands by white men.
Continue reading "Epic story of Enga’s clash of civilisations" »
Apeke Taso built his house in his village in the war torn Tsak Valley. Many educated elites from the Tsak Valley have also built country homes in their villages
TUMBY BAY - Daniel Kumbon’s upcoming book, Victory Song of Pingeta’s Daughter, is full of interesting information and photographs.
I was particularly intrigued by the photographs of veritable mansions built by highlanders in remote places.
Some of them even put to shame the McMansions that dot Touaguba Hill in Port Moresby.
Continue reading "From grass houses to those PNG McMansions" »
GARY JUFFA & SCOTT WAIDE
ORO – Governor Gary Juffa: We have transformed from a nation of ‘warriors’ who thought of the future, and fought for justice and their people to one of ‘worriers’ who worry about only today, ignore injustice and fight only for themselves.
LAE – Journalist Scott Waide: A warrior is one who battles with himself. The conflict happens in the mind and the spirit. It resolves ethical dilemmas and internal strife.
Continue reading "Are we warriors or are we worriers?" »
ADELAIDE – There is a comment by Michael Dom that provides a fascinating insight into the development of Tok Pisin.
"Tok Pisin emi toktok bilong mipela ol liklik man meri bilong giraun. Ol siti lain iken traim long 'stailim' ol iet long kainkain toktok, o bai mi tromoi tok stret olsem ol siti lain iken traim long bilasim toktok bilong ol iet."
Continue reading "Is Tok Pisin becoming class conscious?" »
In 1979, Robyn Davidson trekked 2,700 km across Australia's western deserts with only her dog and four camels as companions
TUMBY BAY - Baka Bina’s recent short story, ‘When the rains fall red’, set me to thinking about women’s issues and my role as a kiap before independence.
The kiap fraternity was, after all, an all-male body but the fact was that the communities we were sent to administer were pretty much half and half male and female.
Continue reading "Taim bilong mun, noken tok" »
NOOSA – Author and ex-kiap Paul Oates is a good friend – but not an uncritical one – of Papua New Guinea.
The respect he developed for the people of PNG during his service in the country from 1969 to 1975 has stuck with him, as has his knowledge of Tok Pisin, which he exercises to this day in his loyal readership of the Pidgin English news service of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Continue reading "Whither Tok Pisin?" »
PORT MORESBY - Darn the wind!
As she stepped out of the PMV bus outside the Port Moresby town police station, Matalina immediately knew she would be in trouble.
The gale-force wind, blowing fast and furious from Ela Beach over the isthmus to Fairfax Harbour, was sweeping the debris away and replacing it with its own rubbish of torn bushes and plants.
Continue reading "When the rains fall red" »
Joe Herman - "Is there anything left of those noble traditions that we can revisit as a source of strength as we recalibrate our journey?"
SEATTLE, USA - There are many similarities between the communities of Australia’s indigenous people and the people of Papua New Guinea in how we are dealing with the tension between the dreamtime and this modern era.
As you know, in PNG we have gullibly embraced almost all aspects of the western cultural values that landed on our shores.
Continue reading "Can we resurrect the house of wisdom" »
Aboriginal people providing drawings & audio recordings, May 1939 (South Australian Museum)
TUMBY BAY - When I left Papua New Guinea and returned to Australia in the 1970s I went to work recording sacred sites in what was then the North-West Aboriginal Reserve in South Australia.
The job was funded by the Commonwealth government through a grant program channelled through the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies and administered by the South Australian Museum.
Continue reading "Bridging the chasms that blind cultural understanding" »
Andrew Moutu discusses tabu, a traditional Tolai currency
| Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct
PORT MORESBY - The role of tradition and heritage in contemporary Papua New Guinea is a complex topic, and one that is commonly debated in communities and households throughout the country.
About a year ago an expert panel was gathered, together with an engaged audience, to voice a variety of perspectives on this subject at a public event, ‘Cultural Heritage in Modern PNG: Protecting Our Values’, at the University of Papua New Guinea.
Continue reading "Cultural heritage in modern PNG" »
Sangoma - traditional healers of South Africa
TUMBY BAY - Tok Pisin is an evolving language of such dynamism that it sometimes appears to be in a constant state of flux.
While there is still a core of basic words that underpins the language many of them have undergone multiple modifications so that their original source has become obscured.
Continue reading "Sanguma, sangoma & the derivation of words" »
White supremacists empty-headedly claim ethnic diversity is equivalent to white genocide
TUMBY BAY - Just like Australia, the USA is a migrant nation. In both cases the racial and cultural diversity of both populations has contributed to both the wealth and vibrancy of their societies.
While Australia is home to the world's oldest continuous culture dating back at least 65,000 years it is now also home to a people who identify with more than 270 different ancestries.
Continue reading "The exploitation of racial & cultural difference" »
GOLD COAST - In case you haven't read much of my writing, my fellow author and former kiap Phil Fitzpatrick will confirm that for many years I have been banging on about responsibility and accountability.
These are two seemingly inviolate pillars of responsible government. They are something many of us trained in the Australian public service discipline hold near and dear.
Continue reading "Understanding can come late in life" »
DAGUA - Culture heroes have always been an important aspect of human society and culture.
They are romanticised in popular literature and oral traditions of most human societies.
Their exploits and relevance are legion in myths and legends told the world over.
Continue reading "The dog as PNG’s legendary culture hero" »
Ethnic diversity strengthens and enriches societies but can also be a source of conflict
NORTHUMBRIA, UK – The continued aggressive suppression of black skinned former slaves in the United States has triggered fierce global outrage.
The wave of anger sparked by the murder of George Floyd implied that racism is directed exclusively against black skinned people and that the only perpetrators are white.
Continue reading "Ethnicism - group survival; root of racism" »
PORT MOREBY - IF you come home in the afternoon and if you see no smoke coming from the roof of the house, you must feel sorry for your stomach.
As a little boy at Kotiyufa Village, Iufi-Iufa, that was my father’s rant every time I failed to do my household duties.
Continue reading "The smoke from the house" »
Scott Waide - "Diplomacy in the home and outside of it was a skill every man had to learn"
| My Land, My Country
LAE - Three years ago, I asked my dad what the role of women was in his culture and how women were treated. This was when another incident of violence came to the fore.
I needed to understand how his culture dealt with women and their place in society.
My dad is a man of huge contrasts; he is an immaculately patient being with a frighteningly explosive temper.
Continue reading "The wisdom from my culture" »
Kavieng from the air - a beautiful place I'd never seen before until my coronavirus-affected travels
PORT MORESBY – Last Tuesday the Papua New Guinea parliament extended the coronavirus state of emergency for another two weeks to provide time to pass a new piece of legislation – the Public Health Emergency Bill - that will control how people live in that condition known as the ‘new normal’.
Many people felt the extension was unnecessary, especially when all eight people officially tested positive to Covid-19 have recovered and no new cases detected.
Continue reading "Covid-19 & muting the Angel of Death" »
Councillor Muka winces as turns away from the heat of burning weapons (Ian Douglas)
NORTHUMBRIA - Kunimeipa used to be home to Guari Patrol Post. In 1975 it was the most isolated government station in the Goilala.
But it has since been abandoned, and its brick buildings either gape windowless or have disintegrated into rubble.
When I discussed the reasons for, and the consequences of, this administrative desertion in a magazine, to my surprise the loudest response was criticism of my spelling of the word ‘Kunimeipa’.
Continue reading "Believe me, there’s a darn lot in a word" »
| Coordinator, Project Sepik
SEPIK RIVER – An historic customary declaration has been issued to the Papua New Guinea government by the spiritual guardians of the Sepik River, the customary clan leaders.
The Supreme Sukundimi Declaration calls for a complete ban on the proposed Frieda River mine, which would be the largest mine in PNG history.
Continue reading "Frieda mine ban campaign steps up" »
Mock tribal skirmish
TUMBY BAY - One of the essential ingredients for tribal unity is an enemy. Fear of that enemy is important in keeping the tribe together and united.
A good tribal leader will spend much time explaining to the people the horrific motives of the enemy.
In traditional societies, rape, murder and cannibalism are effective fear narratives while in modern societies the memes centre round ideology and economics.
Continue reading "I fight, therefore I am" »
A Menyama man and his bow and arrows - deadly at short distances
| My Land, My Country
LAE - The primary weapon of choice for the tribes spread out over the Upper Watut to Aseki, Menyamya, Kaintiba in the Gulf Province and Marawaka in the Eastern Highlands has been the bow and arrow.
Theirs was the culture into which I was immersed at an early age.
Continue reading "Adventures with bows & arrows" »
The remote Fly River port of Kiunga in PNG's Western Province
MONICA MINNEGAL & PETER DWYER
| DevPolicy Blog
CANBERRA - The first Covid-19 case reached Papua New Guinea on 13 March 2020, though it was several days before it was unambiguously confirmed.
On 17 March the pandemic was declared a national security issue, and a state of emergency came into effect on 24 March.
Continue reading "God, Covid-19 & remote health" »
"Watching over 100 pigs being clubbed to death was an enlightening experience. So too was being handed the gift of a bloody portion of pig meat wrapped in a banana leaf"
TUMBY BAY - While we were in Australia training for our roles as kiaps in Papua New Guinea we were warned about the possibility of experiencing culture shock.
Culture shock is the feeling of uncertainty, confusion, or anxiety that people experience when living and working in a society that is different from their own.
Continue reading "Getting used to culture shock" »
Author Daniel Kumbon in Manus before his failed attempt to return to his family in Wabag. He is now in Port Moresby
PORT MORESBY - The woman next door continues to pray day and night pleading with God to take this pestilence away from Papua New Guinea because the people are innocent, they did nothing to bring the virus into the country.
Alone in her house, she prays and sings worship songs in both Tok Pisin and the Enga language.
Continue reading "Praying to ‘Gote’ at a time of coronavirus" »
A G SATORI
PORT MORESBY - Belief in the supernatural is real for a Papua New Guinean - a belief that runs in parallel with other introduced beliefs, be they Christianity or another religion, even atheism.
Most Papua New Guineans talk about all their beliefs in the same breath.
Continue reading "The weird story of sanguma" »
The Peië grasshopper
AISHII NOKOVANO GITEHOMA
| Transcribed by Emily Bina
KOTIYUFA VILLAGE 2013 - Gholou-e valley, before human beings arrived, was occupied by two tribes of grasshoppers. One was the dull brown coloured Ganu tribe. The other was the multi-coloured Peië.
During the dry season, as leaves of plants matured and died, the food source for grasshoppers would diminish. As the dry season got longer, the competition for good green leaves to eat became intense.
Continue reading "The hind foot competition" »
Cr Paul Kiap Kurai (sitting) as a schoolboy in 1975, his father, Joseph (Bosboi) Kurai towering over him
WABAG – That night in Wapenamanda, Mathew Kandamaine had a strange dream in which he saw his father, Joseph Kurai Tapus, come to his house and ask for a single K5 note so he could attend a party in heaven specially prepared for him.
Early next morning, Mathew woke with a start. He was glad the dream wasn’t real. But he had a sinking feeling, worrying it might turn out to be true.
He shared it with his wife, from Ialibu in the Southern Highlands.
As Mathew and his wife finished talking, they heard a car honk its horn several times from where it was parked on the highway near his home.
One of his brothers, Timothy, had driven their father down from Wabag. Mathew’s heart sank when he saw his father. But Joseph Kurai Tapus was his normal self.
Continue reading "Death of the ‘bosboi’" »
PORT MORESBY - Pele had his grandchildren around the fire in the small outhouse that was their kitchen.
It was pelting rain outside and the afternoon chill weighed heavily on them. In the far distance, the rumbling in the clouds meant a long time of rain and a miserable night.
Continue reading "Tear up your tumbuna talk" »
Traditional green axes by Simeon Nikints (Peter Kinjap)
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY – For thousands of years before the first Australian patrol reached Mt Hagen in 1933, stones axes (known as ‘green axes’) were used daily in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, and were widely traded often in the context of ceremonial exchanges.
In more recent times, a group of ‘factories’ located in the Waghi and Jimi Valleys accounted for the bulk of production of green axes.
Continue reading "Our special green axes" »
Lutheran Church pastor Ango Panao with his son and grandson
WABAG – “Call me Joseph. I am not Kurai anymore,” Joseph Kurai Tapus said to his friends, associates - and anybody he met - soon after Fr Peter Granegger SVD baptised him at Sari Catholic Mission on 8 April, 1977.
Not many Christian converts are known to have done that, but Kurai made public announcements of his conversion and subsequent name change.
Continue reading "The story of Joseph, once Kurai" »
Daniel Kumbon with Paul Kurai at the Lian Border overlooking the Waghi valley covered in Kandep's morning cloud
WABAG - In a recent article, I wrote how Pingeta’s daughter, Tukim, sang a victory song in a lonely pulim anda (birth house) at Kaiap village in Wabag, Enga Province, to celebrate the birth of her firstborn son in 1946.
Tukim celebrated but some words she used were carefully selected to mortify her husband Kurai’s relatives, who had openly declared her unfit to be first his wife.
Continue reading "Kurai Tapus: Tribal war refugee" »
ADELAIDE - It is pretty clear that those of us who 50 years ago learned what now must be called archaic Pidgin are now hopelessly out of date.
Words like “bilong" have long since been contracted into "blo" and, so it seems, "narapela" has been contracted into "nala".
Continue reading "The madly evolving Tok Pisin" »
A faction of warlords and fighter arrives for the peace ceremony
KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN
PORT MORESBY – People using the Okuk highway that ploughs through the New Guinea highlands know only too well the frequent tribal skirmishes that have caused fear to the travelling public this past 20 years.
The fighting has erupted violently and unpredictably at Ganigle in the Kerowagi district of the Simbu Province.
Continue reading "Warlords enter 2020 striving for peace" »
TUMBY BAY - My copy of Baka Bina’s new book, ‘Operation Kisim Bek Lombo’, arrived in the mail on Friday.
Because he is one of the most interesting writers in Papua New Guinea today, I couldn’t resist a quick skim through the book before slotting it into my reading queue.
Continue reading "Please say that in Pinglish" »
Philip Kai Morre - "Culture is meant for change and we are in a global village adapting to new ways of doing things"
PHILIP KAI MORRE
KUNDIAWA - As a son of a Stone Age man, and having experienced the beauty of cultural heritage, I tried to hold back in my naturalistic fallacy of retaining good cultural values, norms and a belief system in the traditional mode. But conditions did not, and do not, allow.
So I go with the current cultural, economic, political and ideological changes and embrace modern science and technology.
Continue reading "The view from down here" »
| New Zealand Herald
AUCKLAND - If the Trobriand Islanders were allowed to take part in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, they would have caused quite a stir, surpassing the razzmatazz of the modern game.
From the boundary at Yalumgwa's cricket ground I'm watching a violent tribal encounter at the crease without the slightest hint of sportsmanship.
Continue reading "Sex, yams and cricket" »
Wigged villager at Wabag patrol post when Kurai Tapus was a bosboi (Fryer Library, University of Queensland)
WABAG - Her voice was like the sound of angels singing joyous melodies in the starlit Bethlehem night in celebration of the birth of Jesus in a manger on that first Christmas Day.
In January 1946, in a very different place, a similar earthly celebration took place in a lonely pulim anda (birth house) among the casuarina trees at Kaiap village, where a young mother sang a victory song when her son was born.
Continue reading "Pingeta’s daughter & bigman Kurai Tapus" »
GOBI DON GUREKI
| Skerah PNG
PORT MORESBY - Unlike the street in Port Moresby's central business district, named after many prominent people of the colonial era, the suburbs have more local and traditional names.
The Koitabuans along with Motuans are the traditional landowners of Port Moresby, the Koitabuans hunters while the Motuans were more associated with the sea.
Continue reading "Those POM suburb names" »
Betty Wakia, Daniel Kumbon and Caroline Evari in Port Moresby writing the letter to prime minister James Marape
PORT MORESBY –If anybody close to the prime minister reads this, and if you think it’s as important as we do, please mention it to James Marape.
Please tell him that a letter on behalf of Papua New Guinea’s writers, editors and publishers sits waiting in his office.
The letter is from three writers who represent many hundreds of our authors, poets, essayists and other writers.
We are Caroline Evari, Betty Wakia and me, Daniel Kumbon.
Continue reading "Dear James Marape, we writers await you" »
Models showcase two of Lisa Arut's original designs at the PNG Fashion Week grand finale
PORT MORESBY – “Last night’s Papua New Guinea fashion week extravaganza was mind boggling.
“It was a night of cultural renaissance, an awakening of another kind. Fashion has never been my forte but last night was a night to remember.”
These are the words I entered in my diary last Sunday morning after attending the memorable fashion week grand finale, named appropriately ‘The Awakening the Night Before’.
Continue reading "It was truly a night to remember" »
It is believed that the Lapita people, who inhabited PNG for perhaps 2,000 years before moving on, were great navigators.
| An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea is blessed with a diverse culture and heritage. But where do these amazing cultural values and behaviours come from? How did they originate and evolve? Not much is known about the prehistory of PNG.
Written records go back to the 1500s when Portuguese sailors named the island Ilhas dos Papuas, the land of the fuzzy-haired men.
Continue reading "50,000 years of culture & heritage" »
Negotiating bride price on Bougainville
LEONARD FONG ROKA
PANGUNA - Indigenous Bougainvillean wealth was different from what we practice in this era where Westernisation has so disrupted and polarised our societies.
In that context, the three ‘G’s colonisation presented us - God, Gold and Glory - need better alignment with the traditional culture of bride price we still practice.
Continue reading "Bride price needs re-examination" »
“Nothing makes me happier than to lift up the glorious flag of a thousand tribes here in the heart of New York City"
WABAG - My mind was blown away to see the young man display the Papua New Guinea flag on Times Square in New York City during recent independence day celebrations.
The choice words he used to express his genuine love for this country truly touched my heart. And he was a foreign national.
Continue reading "Sharing culture with foreign friends" »
Jack Golson (second left) and Philip Hughes (second right) with workmen from Kuk village, 1974
| An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PORT MORESBY - The history of agriculture in Papua New Guinea goes back about 10,000 years, with the country recognised as one of the global birthplaces of plant domestication.
The Kuk swamp in the Waghi valley of the Western Highlands has provided archaeological evidence of the agricultural practises of the people of that time, who probably first occupied the region 50,000 years ago.
Continue reading "The unearthing of 10,000 years of agriculture" »
The cultural mandate of the hausman - the elders must instruct young men to learn wisdom and work hard
| An entry in the Crocodile Prize
SONOMA - My mother was my first life coach, teaching me the importance of work for personal success and thriving in a competitive world.
She emphasised the importance of working hard, but I was young, restless and naïve - not ready to listen and pay attention. In one ear and out the other.
Continue reading "Lessons learned from my mother & my culture" »
Prized big pig in the main street of Tari (Albert Tagua)
| An entry in the Crocodile Prize
SONOMA – The highlands province of Hela is host to a multi-billion dollar liquefied natural gas project. But operating alongside the wonders of modern technology is a culture full of rich tradition and custom.
Hela functions on the patrilineal system, where the man owns everything: the land, the pigs and he is the heir of the father’s riches, knowledge of the sacred rites and traditional history.
Continue reading "Hela: Will the people avenge Big Pig LNG?" »
"The mourning woman brought back vivid memories of my own mother dressed exactly the same when my baby brother, Nuamb, died nearly 60 years ago"
WABAG – It’s too easy to forget and slowly lose some of Papua New Guinea’s authentic traditional practices.
This realisation came to me at the recent 25th Enga Cultural Show as I stood intrigued by a lady covered from head to foot in white clay who was sitting with four other women in a booth at the far end of the showground.
She was wearing many white necklaces made with ripe seeds - or Jobs Tears - harvested from a plant called waku that grows wild in old abandoned gardens.
Continue reading "Lady in mourning captivates me at the Enga show" »
The Batek people of the Malaysian hinterland who bear a striking resemblance to the people of Melanesia (Dr Patrick Pikacha)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - Earlier this year, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation published an article by Caroline Tiriman in Tok Pisin entitled, ‘Ol Melanesian Pipal blong Asia’ ['The Melanesian People of Asia'].
I was struck by the resemblance of the Batek people of Malaysia pictured in the article to the Melanesian people we know in Papua New Guinea and nearby countries in the Pacific.
Continue reading "Remarkable ‘Melanesians’ found in Malaysia jungle" »
To a stranger
Looking beautiful or scary
Don't know the meaning
Nor the pain involved
Think primitive and unbecoming
On a body, a living storyboard
A blueprint designed by spirits and man
Passed through generations forgotten
Not a single line missed
Words, songs, whispers not omitted
Continue reading "Tattoos – Life’s Storyboard" »