Heritage & culture Feed

The long tradition of orators & wordsmiths

Road opening  Jimi  1970 (Tom Webster)
The Jimi people gather for a road opening in 1970. There will be many speeches. They will be long (Tom Webster)

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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.

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Sana: The making of a great man

SanaDIANE 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.

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The unfortunate Lucy Maino controversy

Lucy Maino
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.

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Oro harmony: Say sori before the sun sets

(The Man Who Would Not Die)
Peace-making in Oro culture (Photo from 'The Man Who Would Not Die')

CAROLINE EVARI
| 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.

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You will not colonise my children’s names

Simbu children (Simbu Children Foundation)
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.

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Cash-craving relatives shun death traditions

The life and death of Imbakey Okuk
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.

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Decolonisation & the changing of our names

TribesmenDUNCAN GABI
| 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.

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Tok Pisin’s emergence as a literary language

Dom
Michael Dom - "People think English is the only language ‘good enough’ to demonstrate their capacity to write creatively. This is a silly notion that needs to change in order for PNG to really have a thriving creative writing culture"

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – Michael Dom, an established and most readable poet, has in recent years occasionally delved into the intricacies of translating his poetry between English, Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu.

Translation of this kind is a high art because it goes beyond the literal into often complex metaphors that do not translate readily from one language to another.

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How the bilum reached Rangiora

Bilum-weaving at the Palmerston North -part of the Melanesian world view (Laurens Ikinia)
Bilum-weaving at the Palmerston North - part of the Melanesian worldview (Laurens Ikinia)

LAURENS IKINIA
| Asia Pacific Report | Extracts

AUCKLAND - Papua New Guinean academics and community leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand tackle their concerns about climate change and mental health issue in the Pacific through a traditional and famous craft – weaving bilums.

Late last year, a Papua New Guinea cultural language week was held by the PNG Community Trust in Manawatu region at Rangiora Community Hall in Palmerston North.

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A monument to the Grand Chief

Jordan Dean top
Jordan Dean says PNG should honour Sir Michael Somare with a monument and memorial park

JORDAN DEAN

SYRACUSE, USA - Winter in upstate New York can sometimes be unforgiving. Last month, the temperatures dropped to minus 25 degree Celsius in February and I had to double sweaters.

My apartment heater has been on since November. Thank God, there have been no power outages.

Apart from the beautiful eighteenth century architecture, the thing I love about Syracuse are the statues and monuments.

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Sukundimi: Guardian of the mighty Sepik

Sepik sunset
Sunset over the mighty Sepik

DUNCAN GABI

GOROKA - The mighty Sepik River has existed since the dawn of time, twisting and turning, forming a wide belt of active meanders and fish-populated great lakes.

This great river, its banks adorned with lianas, sago palms, and pandanus, deposits vast amounts of fresh water into the ocean.

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Parking your wife, or 'marit antap long marit’

Png sceneKELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN

PORT MORESBY – While Papua New Guinea has a couple of matrilineal societies, the majority of our many cultures are patrilineal, meaning the heirs to the land are male.

If a woman gives birth to sons, she is respected by her husband’s family, although this does not mean she is always safe.

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I walked on bilums. I’m sorry

Marape - Feet of the chiefsJAMES MARAPE MP

Papua New Guinea’s prime minister James Marape recently visited Kainantu and, upon his arrival, walked along a prepared pathway of bilums, the woven string bags that are utilitarian, symbolic of the strength of women and culturally very meaningful. The prime minister’s action generated significant public rebuke, which he sought to address in this response - KJ

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Why that Lowy incident will be remembered

Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson
Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson - "Respect is taught and driven home in every aspect of our lives"

LAGIPOIVA CHERELLE JACKSON
| Medium

SAMOA - When the editor of the Lowy Institute’s, The Interpreter, called leaders of the Pacific Islands ‘toddlers’ and referred to the stance by Micronesian Leaders as ‘tantrums’, it could have easily been yet another condescending article by an Australian journalist who thought he knew better than all of us put together.

But this time, it was different.

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Bousimae, the chief who resisted colonisation

Waide - Bousimae  the Binandere chief
Bousimae, the Binandere chief

SCOTT WAIDE
| My Land, My Country

LAE - Papua New Guinea is a collection of nations, each with its own rich history.

Much of that history has been lost and much needs to be told.

The stories need to be told not in the context of the 200 years of colonialism, but from the perspective of our elders and based on 60,000 years of unwritten precolonial history.

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Mr Marape & the tenacity of PNG writers

BookshelfDANIEL KUMBON
MICHAEL DOM
AG SATORI
PHILIP FITZPATRICK
Edited by Keith Jackson

“To all my children across our beautiful and blessed country, have hope and faith that you too can make it in life and make use of your time and talents by working hard wherever God has placed you in our diverse and blessed land of PNG” – James Marape, ‘Advice for young people: You’re here for a purpose’

DANIEL KUMBON – THE HEARTBEAT OF PNG

WABAG - You know prime minister, your words are gold for children of this country. Your direct message can impact their lives at an early age.

Your words can get them off Facebook and get them into a library full of books.

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The beauty of the haus krai

Enga mourning
Simulation of an Enga mourning ritual (Daniel Kumbon)

JOE HERMAN

SEATTLE, USA – Over the years, the haus krai [mourning rituals] concept has evolved and changed its spiritual framing.

Growing up in Enga, my first childhood experience of death was the loss of my second mother.

She had been confined in bed for several days from an illness. We had no access to medical assistance and she was unresponsive to the rituals administered.

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PNG’s mercenary funerary rituals

Wapenamanda burial (Barry Taverner)
Wife of deceased sits atop his body at Wapenamanda mourning , late 1960s (Barry Taverner)

DANIEL KUMBON

WABAG – One of the many rare photographs in my new book, 'Victory Song of Pingeta's Daughter', is an image of an elderly woman sitting on the wrapped body of a warrior killed in tribal war that has been hung on a pole.

Below the body and her, other women mourn. How she climbed on to the pole, I do not know.

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Toroama reaches out to ‘King’ Noah

Historic meeting between Musingku and Toroama
The historic first meeting between U-Vistract's Noah Musingku and Bougainville's President Toroama (Anthony Kaybing)

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – The Bougainville government continues to make headway in unifying his people as it prepares for consultations with the Papua New Government on independence for the autonomous province.

And on Friday it was with unity in mind that Bougainville president Ishmael Toroama met with U-Vistract leader Noah Musingku.

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The day the crocodile god walked

Korogu haus tambaran
The Korogu haus tambaran

DUNCAN GABI
| My Land, My Country | Edited

MADANG - On Wednesday 16 December, 2020, the Save the Sepik team of volunteers departed Wewak to begin a one-week patrol to the upper Sepik river to talk to the people about Frieda mine.

We arrived at Pagwi waterfront at about 3pm and from there took a 20 meter dugout motor canoe and headed down river towards Korogu, a village built on the banks of the Sepik.

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The importance of language in culture

Culture-LanguagePHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY – In his essay, Tok Pisin, Tok Motu na Tok Ples, Michael Dom starts with the question, “If Tok Pisin is the language expression of our lifestyle and our intermingled cultures” then what does this language say about us as a people?”

Later in the essay, he writes: "We are educating the native languages out of our societies and along with them entire visualisations and expressions of the human experience.

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Tok Pisin, Tok Motu na Tok Ples

Tok-pisin-rootsMICHAEL DOM
| Full references at end of essay

LAE - If Tok Pisin is the language expression of our lifestyle and our intermingled cultures” (1) then what does this language say about us as a people?

As first-language English-speaking Papua Niuginians, my siblings and I were introduced to Tok Pisin during our late primary and secondary school years.

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The scandal of PNG's massive cultural loss

TribesmenPHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - The republishing of Bomai Witne’s 2014 article on how difficult it is for many Papua New Guineans to distinguish how much their cultural perceptions belong to tradition on the one hand and colonialism on the other prompts my further exploration.

It seems that the link with the past for many people, particularly children, in modern day Papua New Guinea is growing more and more tenuous as the years go by.

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Merry Christmas PNG, with love from Emma

Emma-Wakpi
Emma Wakpi - "There are kinks in the cultures and ways of my people and I continue to struggle against them. But for the most part I am at peace"

EMMA WAKPI
| Published in PNG Attitude, 25 December 2012

MY DEAREST MOTHERLAND - I am writing this letter on the eve of Christmas to let you know how much I love and appreciate you.

This time of the year reminds us of what we should be thankful for and of what love is really all about.

Often times we argue so much about what is wrong and right and how it’s supposed to be done nowadays.

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Heritage, culture, Christianity & change

Bomai
Bomai Witne - "It is a challenging time to assess whether and how we want to keep a link with our tribal heritage. Some of us are struggling"

BOMAI D WITNE
| Published in PNG Attitude, 24 December 2014

GOROKA – What did I inherit from my tribal and national ancestors who migrated here some 50,000 years ago and what did I inherit from colonialism?

I have to find answers to these questions and the answers are hard to find.

I was born in Imil-Tomale, a remote hamlet, under the shade of pandanus trees and clothed with soft and tender leaves.

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The worm catchers of Sialum

Reef off Sialum
Reef and atoll off Sialum typical of where 'Christmas' worm catchers ply their trade

PAUL OATES
| Published in PNG Attitude, 25 December 2011

CLEVELAND, QLD - Sialum patrol post was situated on the north-eastern tip of the Huon Peninsula about 60 miles north of Finschhafen, the sub district headquarters.

I say ‘about 60 miles’ because Rudi, the Lutheran missionary at Kalasa, and Hans, the Lutheran agricultural extension officer always argued about how far it was.

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Piku-Piku and Asukena – Part 3

Aishi Nokowano Gitehoma aka Papa Sii  Kotiyufa Village  Iufi-Iufa  2013
Aishi Nokowano Gitehoma aka Papa Sii,  Kotiyufa Village,  Iufi-Iufa,  2013

AS TOLD BY PAPA SII TO BAKA BINA

PORT MORESBY – Before I continue this story, I should let you know that it is an adaptation of a legend told by Papa Sii, whose image is at right

I have taken the words he told me and retold it using a contemporary overlay story of some bored village children.

Continue reading "Piku-Piku and Asukena – Part 3" »


Now a video record of an historic moment

Uechtritz
Alfred Max Parkinson Uechtritz shows his delight at receiving the first English translation of Dreissig Jahre in Der Südsee (Thirty Years in the South Seas) in 1999

MAX UECHTRITZ

SYDNEY - "Without Richard and Phebe Parkinson, we would be strangers in our own land."

These words were spoken by the wonderful Papua New Guinean historian Gideon Kakabin in our first conversation and formed the basis for our enduring friendship and shared passion for history.

My Danish great grandfather Richard Parkinson published his famed tome Thirty Years in the South Seas in 1907.

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Epic story of Enga’s clash of civilisations

Daniel Kumbon & Paul Kiap
Author Daniel Kumbon and Enga bigman Paul Kurai Kiap atop their highlands province

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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.

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From grass houses to those PNG McMansions

Apeke Taso
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

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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.

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Are we warriors or are we worriers?

Scott
Scott Waide
Gary
Gary Juffa

GARY JUFFA & SCOTT WAIDE
| Facebook

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.

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Is Tok Pisin becoming class conscious?

Tok pisinCHRIS OVERLAND

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."

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Taim bilong mun, noken tok

Robyn Davidson
In 1979, Robyn Davidson trekked 2,700 km across Australia's western deserts with only her dog and four camels as companions

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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.

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Whither Tok Pisin?

Paul Oates 1
Paul Oates

KEITH JACKSON

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.

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When the rains fall red

RedRainBAKA BINA

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.

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Can we resurrect the house of wisdom

Joe herman
Joe Herman - "Is there anything left of those noble traditions that we can revisit as a source of strength as we recalibrate our journey?"

JOE HERMAN

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.

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Bridging the chasms that blind cultural understanding

Desert
Aboriginal people providing drawings & audio recordings,  May 1939 (South Australian Museum)

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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.

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Cultural heritage in modern PNG

Andrew Moutu
Andrew Moutu discusses tabu, a traditional Tolai currency

REPORT
| 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.

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Sanguma, sangoma & the derivation of words

Sangoma - traditional healers of South Africa
Sangoma - traditional healers of South Africa

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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.

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The exploitation of racial & cultural difference

White genocide
White supremacists  empty-headedly claim ethnic diversity is equivalent to white genocide

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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.

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Understanding can come late in life

Cross-cultural1PAUL OATES

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.

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Ethnicism - group survival; root of racism

Ethnicity
Ethnic diversity strengthens and enriches societies but can also be a source of conflict

ROBERT FORSTER

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.

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