Beach scene on Mahur Island (Schneider Photography)
SUSAN R HEMER
Tracing the Melanesian Person: Emotions and Relationships in Lihir by Susan R Helmer, University of Adelaide Press, Adelaide, 2013, 329 pages. ISBN 978-1-922064-45-5. Free download here
KEITH JACKSON WRITES - Dr Susan Hemer lectures in development studies and medical and psychological anthropology at the University of Adelaide and her book, Tracing the Melanesian Person, resulted from a year spent in the Lihir group of islands in Papua New Guinea.
The incident it tells of occurred in May 1998 when Hemer was about halfway through her doctoral fieldwork in Mahur, the northernmost of Lihir.
Continue reading "Tripping to Tabar & the mystery of Mahur" »
Sharon Davis - "With our traditional languages stolen, along with our land, we took the way the gudiya talked and decolonised it"
IndigenousX | Edited
“If you attack my language you attack me, because what I am and what I know and believe and feel are all mediated through language” – Jack Dwyer
“My mother, her mother, and all my mothers before her were Aboriginal women. I am the product of past policies and practices, but also of love and reconciliation. I grew up all over Australia. My family never really settled and looking back, I think it was the pull between black and white, between my mother’s country in the Kimberley and my gudiya father’s place in the Blue Mountains that replicated my own inner turmoil in understanding Aboriginality” – Sharon Davis
CANBERRA - Avi Yemini is a self-proclaimed ‘citizen journalist’, social media ‘personality’ and convicted abuser of women.
Recently, Avi Yemini tweeted a video of Western Australian premier Mark McGowan sending a vaccination message to Western Australian Aboriginal communities.
Continue reading "Aboriginal English – what isn’t it?" »
ADELAIDE - The article by Baka Bina, ‘The Taxing Art of Translation’, has recently stimulated much comment and discussion in PNG Attitude.
Accomplished writers like Michael Dom, Daniel Kumbon, Phil Fitzpatrick and others have offered their own insights and perspectives on the problems inherent in translating Tok Pisin into English.
Continue reading "Tok Pisin: A language on history's march" »
Bernard Narokobi when Attorney-General in 1991. A political and jurisprudential philosopher of great seriousness and stature (Pacific Islands Monthly)
NEW YORK - Bernard Narokobi, who died in March 2010 at the age of 72 after a short illness, was a political and jurisprudential philosopher of great seriousness and stature. That makes my memories of his irrepressible irreverence especially sweet.
One such memory: Bernard taking his afternoon nap on the wall to wall carpeting of the Law Reform Commission’s way too elegant offices.
Continue reading "Narokobi: The man who knew what might have been" »
A postage stamp showing the spectacular Wawoi Falls in the Kikori River Basin which is on the tentative heritage list area. Unfortunately logging has now extended right up to the falls
ADELAIDE – I have to thank Chris Warrillow for correcting me as to the location of Sir Hubert Murray’s gravesite.
He saved me a frustrating visit to Bomana on my next trip to Papua New Guinea.
I’ll go to Badihagwa instead, bearing a K5 tradestore sarif to cut the grass.
Continue reading "Buy a sarif, there’s a heritage to protect" »
Yamin Kogoya - "Papuans have been dislocated from the centre of their cultural worldview and placed on the fringes of the grand colonial narrative"
CANBERRA - The colonial notion of ‘civilising primitive Papuans’ has distorted Papuan perceptions of the world and themselves.
This distortion began with how New Guinea and its people were described in early colonial literature: unintelligent pygmies, cannibals and pagan savages – people devoid of value.
Not only did this depiction foster a racist outlook but it misrepresented reality as it was experienced and understood by Papuans for thousands of years.
Continue reading "Capturing the mind: Anatomy of a Papuan genocide" »
Michael Dom - "The success of the Crocodile Prize helped to develop our country’s literature"
| Vernacular Traces in the Crocodile Prize:
| Part 1 of an essay in five parts
English translation by Ed Brumby | Tok Pisin original follows
LAE - In 2010, Keith Jackson AM and Philip Fitzpatrick came up with the idea of establishing a national literary competition in Papua New Guinea – the Crocodile Prize.
Writing on Keith’s website, PNG Attitude, some of us supported their idea. In recognition, I gave them the name, ‘Grand Pukpuk’.
By way of background, these two men lived a long while in PNG in pre-independence times: the time of the patrol officers.
Continue reading "PNG writing: Stop reminiscing. Start again" »
ADELAIDE - Robert Forster’s recent article on the pacification of the Goilala region set me thinking about why the imposition of Pax Australiana in Papua New Guinea was so strikingly different to the colonial processes followed in South America, Africa and South East Asia.
By way of context, readers need to understand that European imperialism was almost invariably imposed by force, often with catastrophic results for the indigenous population involved.
Continue reading "Pax Australiana: A most peaceful colonisation" »
Johannes and Rose Kundal, 30th wedding anniversary, 2009
‘Legend of the Miok Egg: A True Enga Family Tale’ by Daniel Kumbon and Johannes Kulimbao Kundal, paperback, independently published, $26.24. Available here from Amazon Australia
FOREWORD - As an Australian who has enjoyed a long association with Papua New Guinea I tend to assume that I know a lot about the people and their cultures.
It is only when I read books like this one that I realise my knowledge is limited.
Continue reading "New book from Highlands holds nothing back" »
Joe Herman - a childhood of secure simplicity and positive affirmation of what we were
SEATTLE, USA - The modern mirror had not yet arrived in Enga.
Indeed, it never occurred to us that such things even existed.
We relied on each other to remove unwanted specks and smudges from our face.
Continue reading "The mirrorless society" »
TUMBY BAY - I come from a generation born in austerity. ‘Make-do’ was the order of the day.
In those what seem now like ancient days, Christmas represented something that now seems irretrievably lost.
Unfortunately, it all seems to be the result of modern human beings having a remarkable ability to subvert good things into bad things.
Continue reading "Capitalism’s corruption of Christmas" »
When PNG became a nation in 1975, it had high hopes of building a better society and Michael Somare seemed to be the right leader to do it
KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN
PORT MORESBY – I want to talk about the kind of people who aspire to be national leaders and what might make them good leaders or not.
Leaders shape our local level governments, districts, provinces and ultimately our entire nation.
But the poor results on the ground are evidence that many of them, perhaps most of them, have not served our people well.
Continue reading "Election ‘22: Voter guide to how bad will oust good" »
Johannes Kundal and Rose with grandson Victor at their 30th wedding anniversary in 2009
TUMBY BAY – In between finishing my latest novel and starting a new one I’ve been proofreading a fascinating autobiography by Johannes Kundal.
Johannes is a member of Enga Writers Association and his book, The Legend of the Miok Egg, is being edited and readied for publication by author Daniel Kumbon, who founded the group.
A few extracts have been published in PNG Attitude over the last year or so.
Continue reading "Kastom & Kristen can be a perfect match" »
The splendid house for Mana Dau and her relatives begins to take shape
MORISSET - Earlier this year Rose and I discovered that Rose’s mum, Mana Dau, was being abused by some distant and nasty relatives at the place where she was living in Lae.
It wasn’t just verbal bullying either, Mana had some of her teeth knocked out and the whole situation was untenable.
Continue reading "The house Peter & Rose helped build" »
Men of Enga (Joe Herman)
SEATTLE - The word arrived quickly that Pambene, a cousin in neighbouring Pumas village in Enga Province, had been assaulted and severely injured by tribesmen over a land dispute.
As expected, my oldest brother Yandapae and two cousins retaliated and forcibly took a large pig from the culprits as compensation.
Continue reading "My father’s dilemma: when cultures collide" »
Chief Lapakio Kambu with Rose (left)
WABAG – I was delighted when an extract from my book, I Can See My Country Clearly Now, was used in the recent English comprehension test for the Grade 12 Papua New Guinea national examinations.
At the time, I wondered if any Enga students noticed they were being examined on an extract from my book.
I’m sure most of them didn’t because they don’t know the book exists.
Continue reading "How to marry a Chief’s daughter" »
| Language Magazine | via Ples Singsing
MALIBU, USA - Papua New Guinea, frequently heralded as the most linguistically diverse place in the entire world, is in the middle of a language crisis.
According to a new report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, the youngest generations in the nation are using Indigenous languages far less than ever before, instead opting for English and Tok Pisin, an English-based creole language.
Continue reading "PNG’s Indigenous language crisis" »
Girls from Nukutoa village, Takuu, in the Mortlock Islands - one of four Polynesian outlier atolls off the east coast of the Bougainville
| Hawaii Public Radio
HILO, HAWAI’I - New linguistics research by suggests the original settlers of the Hawaiian Islands came from a small chain of low-lying atolls just east of Bougainville.
Language professor William ‘Pila’ Wilson of the University of Hawai’i has uncovered evidence that Hawai'i’s first inhabitants may have migrated from Papua New Guinea's Mortlock Islands .
Continue reading "Did Hawaiian people originate in Mortlocks" »
City dwellers take shots with skyscrapers in the background or holding a whisky or SP. Others stand in front of 5-door cruiser or in their office. As a bush writer and adventurer, this scene is appropriate for me and where l think l belong
| Ples Singsing
PORT MORESBY - My late mum, Agatha, would tell me stories of what transpired before her eyes in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
It was a time when pioneer Catholic missionaries established mission stations and schools in various parts of the Wahgi Valley and further into the Jimi and other places.
Continue reading "How Palnge & Simbil built a new community" »
Cane swallowing, also known as 'drin kol wara'
| PNG Insight
PORT MORESBY - ‘Last Real Man’ is a documentary film that captures the sacred cane swallowing ritual of Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands Province and took six years to produce.
After extensive consultation, negotiation and research, Ruth Ketau convinced the elders from Sakanuga village in the Bena area that she should become the first filmmaker to record the Neheya initiation, a cane swallowing ritual.
Continue reading "Nose bleeding & cane swallowing rituals" »
ADELAIDE - While I think Phil Fitzpatrick is over-egging the pudding in Australia – Not that Great a Country, I believe it is true to say that Australia is not a 'great' country.
Phil referred to many of its faults, which is fair comment I suppose, but there are some virtues.
In relation to climate change, every one of Australia’s eight states and territories has now committed to being carbon neutral by 2050.
Continue reading "In praise of a wide brown land" »
Inner-city latte-drinking basket-weavers (Sky News)
TUMBY BAY - Let’s be honest. Australia is an insignificant world power sitting in isolation at the bottom of the planet desperately clinging on to an increasingly tenuous notion of Western hegemony.
On one current reckoning we sit in seventeenth place on the world power scale, just below Switzerland and just above Turkey.
Continue reading "Australia – not that great a country" »
Papua New Guinean lime pots and lime sticks in the Auckland Museum
| Duresi’s Odyssey
AUCKLAND - A few weeks ago, during the school holidays, my daughter and I visited the Auckland Museum, spending a great deal of time in the Pacific section.
A couple of the artefacts brought back childhood memories – including the gourds for putting lime in and the special lime sticks (spatulas) for dipping into the lime to add to the crushed betel nut and mustard.
Continue reading "The queen of lime sticks & lime pots" »
Members of PNG Women in Politics at Nahau Rooney's haus krai (Michelle Nayahamui Rooney)
DOROTHY TEKWIE &
MICHELLE NAYAHAMUI ROONEY
| DevPolicy Blog
CANBERRA - Papua New Guinea’s national elections are coming up in 2022, and the national women’s political empowerment movement is gaining momentum again.
PNG women leaders will drive the direction and pace of these debates.
Continue reading "Politik meri: Nahau Rooney’s haus krai" »
Facebook's curt message to the 60,000 members of a heritage site that curates historic Papua New Guinean photographs
NOOSA – A couple of months ago I ran a piece, ‘Racist’ Facebook doesn’t get the picture, which told how Facebook had blocked a wonderful site, ‘Taim Bipo, Photo History, PNG, Papua & New Guinea’, devoted to safeguarding the photographic heritage of this most photogenic country.
The reason it had blocked the site was because some of the images it showed were of breasts and, for all I know, nipples and penis gourds.
Continue reading "Facebook again shows destructive ignorance" »
Pacific Islander slave labour on a Queensland sugar plantation (State Library of Queensland)
JOHANNA MARIE & STEPHANIE DOOLE
| ABC Wide Bay
BUNDABERG - The stone walls that stretch along Bundaberg's farms are a stark and lasting reminder of the history of slavery in the region, but the community has taken a step forward to begin the healing process.
In an Australian first, Bundaberg's mayor Jack Dempsey is issuing a formal apology to the region's South Sea Islander community for the practice of blackbirding.
Continue reading "Bundaberg issues historic blackbirding apology" »
Marie Reay wrote the the first, book on women’s lives in the PNG Highlands. It was not discovered for 50 years (Noel Butlin)
Wives and Wanderers in a New Guinea Highlands Society by Marie Olive Reay. Francesca Merlan (ed). ANU Press 2014. 268 pages. ISBN 97819250212155 (paperback). Link here for free download
Marie Reay (1922-2004) was an Australian anthropologist, best known for work in the New Guinea Highlands. The manuscript for Wives and Wanderers was discovered in 2011, seven years after her death and 50 years after she had made her last amendments to it. Editor Francesca Merlan did a fine job in bringing it to publication and providing a valuable and stimulating Introduction. Some edited extracts follow - KJ
CANBERRA - Wives and Wanderers presents vivid, ethnographically based narrative of the lives of women of the Wahgi Valley in the Central Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
Marie Reay explores the experiences of courting, attraction, love, marriage, and the combination of male dominance and barely restrained female resentment and rebelliousness.
Continue reading "The book that went missing for 50 years" »
SYDNEY - I run a media, training and consultancy company called IndigenousX. It is 100% Indigenous owned and staffed.
We work on local, regional, national, and international projects; we run training workshops on anti-racism, digital strategies, and media training.
Continue reading "Identity & parlance: This is who we are" »
Haus Tambaran, Palambei, Middle Sepik. Duncan Gavin argues that PNG’s Parliament House should not be called a Haus Tambaran
| Aunamelo Independent Blog
MADANG – Papua New Guinea’s parliament house is one of the world’s most fascinating examples of public architecture.
The building incorporates various structural features found in PNG but the design that dominates is the architectural style of Maprik in East Sepik Province.
Continue reading "N’gego – Melanesia’s house of governance" »
Westminster system spared Papua New Guinea nothing, not even the Speaker 's wig
CLEVELAND – It has taken me a long time to reach an understanding of what the problem was leading up to Papua New Guinea’s independence.
At the time, in the 1970s, the thought process was that the Westminster system works for us in Australia, this we can impose this obviously working system as a unifying force for a people and their many hundreds of cultures.
Continue reading "System we gave PNG just doesn’t work" »
LAE - How do we return Papua Niugini to a culture of Melanesian cooperation and how can the common people make those in power behave responsibly?
According to the evolutionary perspective, the birthplace of democracy was the tribe. Indeed, tribalism is sometimes referred to as ‘primitive democracy’.
Continue reading "Put politics last: Let’s stop reversing evolution" »
Road building, Pindiu, Morobe District, 1965 (Frank Haviland)
WARRADALE - In the late 1960s, as a young kiap based at Mt Hagen Sub-District Office, I was assigned to supervise work on a new feeder road.
It led off the Hagen-Togaba main road and heading north towards Bukapena in the Mul Council area, perhaps eight kilometres out of Hagen.
Part of the construction through a small hill had resulted in a cliff 10-15 metres high that had to be reduced to allow the road to be widened using the stock tools of the time - picks and long-handled spades.
Continue reading "Thoughts of then, now & cultural variance" »
CAIRNS – Michael Dom is right (Two questions long struggled with) in asking how can Papua New Guinea return to cooperation and how can the common people hold power to account and keep it responsible?
No one doubts the absolute necessity for a strong well-governed and administered political centre.
A modern nation state does not exist without it.
Continue reading "Needed: A compact between govt & people" »
Sweet potato farming in the Southern Highlands - communal sharing for mutual benefit is the Melanesian Way
LAE – Power, power, power. Yeah, sure.
In Papua New Guinea subsistence agriculture is a basic mode of living, resources are communally shared and political power is gained and maintained by the assurance of mutual benefit for all.
It can be challenging to understand that the infant national character (that which emerged through parliamentary democracy) doesn't know what to do about the vast wealth made available to it.
Continue reading "Two questions long struggled with" »
CAIRNS - Patrick Angrai’s article, Death of a Teacher, hit me hard too. Firstly sadness, then anger.
Death in childbirth, through lack of timely referral or resources, is so horribly common in rural settings and often goes unreported.
As Arthur Williams has said, how can this happen in such a resource rich country?
Continue reading "PNG must make people the centre of power" »
A glasmeri witch-finder repudiates her previous accusations against an alleged 'sorcerer'(Anton Lutz)
‘Sorcery accusation-related violence in Papua New Guinea: The role of glasman/glasmeri as catalysts of accusation and violence’ by Miranda Forsyth, William Kipongi, Anton Lutz, Philip Gibbs, Fiona Hukula & Ibolya Losoncz, Issues Paper 36, National Research Institute of PNG. July 2021. Link here to the full research report
PORT MORESBY – A National Research Institute report says many incidents of sorcery-accusation violence in Papua New Guinea are triggered by glasman or, less commonly, female glasmeri.
A glasman or glasmeri (witch doctor) is a person skilled in interpreting and using supernatural forces, including the identification of people who are sorcerers.
Continue reading "Report calls for laws against witchdoctors" »
NOOSA - My romp through Tok Pisin the other day brought some amusing embellishments from readers.
I've packaged these into this brief piece, along with other information about how you might pursue an interest in this most eloquent language.
When Phil Fitzpatrick returned to Papua New Guinea in 1997, more than 20 years after he had finished his service as a kiap (patrol officer), he worked in oil and gas exploration and, later, in social mapping.
Continue reading "Further adventures in Tok Pisin" »
Public announcement. Don't pick the flowers. [Don't] dump rubbish everywhere. This is a school!
Read, think, speak and write English
NOOSA – One of the great pleasures of entering Melanesia’s linguistic gateway is to discover the realm of Tok Pisin, with its animated rhythms, vibrant style, and idioms as creative and colourful as a political promise.
Melanesian Pidgin emerged in the south-west Pacific during the late second half of the 19th century on copra and sugarcane plantations to which labour was imported from Melanesia, Malaysia and China.
Continue reading "You’re 'katim lewa' & I’m 'ai gumi'" »
An unmaintained road in Lae PNG's second largest city
YUNGABURRA - The Collins English dictionary defines the word ‘maintain’ as the ‘to keep in proper or good condition’.
And, of course, it is a standard procedure for a successful business to always allocate funds in its budget for repair and maintenance.
Potholes must be filled before they become enormous craters; engine oil must be changed according to the manufacturer’s schedule; tyres must be replaced when worn out. And so a very long list goes on.
Continue reading "750 languages but no word for maintenance" »
FR GARRETT ROCHE
DUBLIN – Some people who read the article on Fr Clement Papa and his family may be wondering how it happens that six brothers came to have six different surnames.
Anthony Kunump, Thomas Webster, Paulus Ripa, Joseph Palimi, Jeffrey Pup, Clement Papa - all with different surnames and all sons of the same father, Pius Pi Kumbamung.
Continue reading "There’s a lot in a name in highlands Melpa" »
The late Sir Buri Kidu, with his wife Dame Carol Kidu, is considered to have exemplified the Melanesian gentleman - ""Quiet, but confident with his profession / An honest expression and eyes that don’t lie"
LAE – It is my observation that true Papua New Guinean gentlemen respond with quiet confidence, not in brash retaliation.
In 2016, writing to encourage creative and intellectual contributions to the theme of 'The Perfect PNG Gentleman', I wrote:
The article was inspired by the prose poem 'Perfect Gentleman' by Dolorose Atai Wo'otong, which is good to reflect upon in the current situation relating to the University of Papua New Guinea.
Continue reading "Regarding the perfect Melanesian gentleman" »
| First published in PNG Attitude, March 2011
PORT MORESBY - Apart from the ‘f’ word, what is the most common explicit used by Papua New Guineans? It is the Pidgin ‘k’ word that refers to the vagina.
Heterosexual intercourse is described in Pidgin as kilim pik [kill a pig] or pasim sua [dress a wound].
It is an everyday experience to hear these descriptive terms on the streets of this nation.
Continue reading "Violence: Driven by men with fragile egos" »
The modern bride price system, corrupted by foreign influence and culture, has made the man the centre of attention
MADANG - Bride price is a notable Melanesian tradition passed from one generation to another; it is a form of payment or dowry to the bride’s family by the groom.
Traditionally, bride price was a gesture of appreciation towards the parents and relatives of the family who had raised a woman with traditional moral values.
Continue reading "Bride price today: abuse & exploitation" »
The Jimi people gather for a road opening in 1970. There will be many speeches. They will be long (Tom Webster)
TUMBY BAY - Older Papua New Guineans will recall the role of oratory or speech-making by clan and tribal leaders.
Many kiaps and other field staff will also remember those times when hundreds of people gathered to hear the words of these important people, not least because they were expected to take part and contribute.
Continue reading "The long tradition of orators & wordsmiths" »
DIANE HIRIMA & MINETTA KAKARERE
Academia Nomad | Edited
Michael Somare: Sana, An Autobiography
PORT MORESBY - Sana was first published in 1975, the year of Papua New Guinea’s independence. It traces Sir Michael Somare life from childhood to politics and his leading PNG to nationhood.
Sana (peacemaker) is a metaphor for a life lived both in upholding and fulfilling traditional obligations and enabling the transformation to modernity.
Continue reading "Sana: The making of a great man" »
Lucy Maino - An innocent victim of deep-seated misogyny or offended Christianity? Or perhaps both
AVDOH D MEKI
PORT MORESBY - Lucy Maino is best known as a Papua New Guinean footballer and recently Miss Pacific and PNG 2019-20.
Because of Covid, her tenure was extended into 2021 but she was released from duties by the MPIP governing body earlier this month after a video she posted on TikTok triggered a social media storm.
Continue reading "The unfortunate Lucy Maino controversy" »
Peace-making in Oro culture (Photo from 'The Man Who Would Not Die')
| Ples Singsing
PORT MORESBY – Early in the evening of Saturday30 January at around 7:30, my family hosted small peace-making ceremony here in Port Moresby.
Leading into the new year, there had been some misunderstanding amongst my older siblings’ daughters that resulted in dispute and disharmony between several family members.
Continue reading "Oro harmony: Say sori before the sun sets" »
Sil Bolkin - "The names I chose for my children are saintly names from Simbu" (Simbu Children Foundation)
KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN
PORT MORESBY - Duncan Gabi must be thanked for raising the issue of 'decolonising the mind'.
I am a practicing Roman Catholic but all my eight children have traditional Simbu and Aroma Coast names.
When I took my first two children to the priest to enrol for baptism, the priest asked for their names.
Continue reading "You will not colonise my children’s names" »
Segment of screenprint, 'The life and death of Imbakey Okuk' by Mathias Kauage (1987)
KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN
PORT MORESBY - At the dawn of time, all humans were born to toil the earth for sustenance until they grew grey hairs and died of old age.
But this is not always the case.
Some few dudes and lasses are born into a dome of privilege and have never have sweat on their brows before old age strikes and they dutifully depart.
Continue reading "Cash-craving relatives shun death traditions" »
| Aunamelo | Edited
PORT MORESBY - While many people think decolonisation means just breaking away from colonisers and getting political independence, there’s more to it than the average mind can ever comprehend.
I am not going to write on political or economic decolonisation but on cultural decolonisation which I believe is the first step to take in the decolonisation process.
Continue reading "Decolonisation & the changing of our names" »