Heritage & culture Feed

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.

Continue reading "From grass houses to those PNG McMansions" »


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.

Continue reading "Taim bilong mun, noken tok" »


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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The wisdom from my culture

Scott_waide
Scott Waide - "Diplomacy in the home and outside of it was a skill every man had to learn"

SCOTT WAIDE
| 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" »


Covid-19 & muting the Angel of Death

Kavieng from the air
Kavieng from the air - a beautiful place I'd never seen before until my coronavirus-affected travels

DANIEL KUMBON

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.

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Believe me, there’s a darn lot in a word

Forster - Cr Muka (Ian Douglas)
Councillor Muka winces as turns away from the heat of burning weapons (Ian Douglas)

ROBERT FORSTER

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" »


Frieda mine ban campaign steps up

RiverEMMANUEL PENI
| 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.

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I fight, therefore I am

Mock tribal skirmish
Mock tribal skirmish

PHILIP FITZPATRICK

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.

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Adventures with bows & arrows

Menyama man
A Menyama man and his bow and arrows - deadly at short distances

SCOTT WAIDE
| 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.

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God, Covid-19 & remote health

Kiunga
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" »


Getting used to culture shock

Pig kill
"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"

PHIL FITZPATRICK

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" »


Praying to ‘Gote’ at a time of coronavirus

Daniel in Manus
Author Daniel Kumbon in Manus before his failed attempt to return to his family in Wabag. He is now in Port Moresby

DANIEL KUMBON

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" »


The hind foot competition

Grasshopper
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.

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Death of the ‘bosboi’

Paul Kiap Kurai sitting as his father(centre) towers over him  after Form 4 examinations in 1975
Cr Paul Kiap Kurai (sitting) as a schoolboy in 1975, his father, Joseph (Bosboi) Kurai towering over him

DANIEL KUMBON

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’" »


Our special green axes

Traditional green axes by Simeon Nikints (Peter Kinjap)
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.

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The story of Joseph, once Kurai

Lutheran Church pastor Ango Panao with his son and grandson
Lutheran Church pastor Ango Panao with his son and grandson

DANIEL KUMBON

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" »


Kurai Tapus: Tribal war refugee

Daniel Kumbon with Paul Kurai
Daniel Kumbon with Paul Kurai at the Lian Border overlooking the Waghi valley covered in Kandep's morning cloud

DANIEL KUMBON

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" »


Warlords enter 2020 striving for peace

A faction arrives for the peace ceremony
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.

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The view from down here

Philip Kai Morre
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" »


Sex, yams and cricket

CricketMARK STRATTON
| 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" »


Pingeta’s daughter & bigman Kurai Tapus

Kumbon - Wigged villager  Wabag patrol post  when Kurai Tapus was a bosboi (Fryer Library UQ)
Wigged villager at Wabag patrol post when Kurai Tapus was a bosboi (Fryer Library, University of Queensland)

DANIEL KUMBON

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" »


Those POM suburb names

Hotel moresbyGOBI 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" »


Dear James Marape, we writers await you

Betty Daniel and Caroline
Betty Wakia, Daniel Kumbon and Caroline Evari in Port Moresby writing the letter to prime minister James Marape

DANIEL KUMBON

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" »


It was truly a night to remember

Kumbon - 2 of Lisa Arut's designs
Models showcase two of Lisa Arut's original designs at the PNG Fashion Week grand finale

DANIEL KUMBON

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’.

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50,000 years of culture & heritage

Lapita
It is believed that the Lapita people, who inhabited PNG for perhaps 2,000 years before moving on, were great navigators.

PETER JOKISIE
| 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.

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Bride price needs re-examination

Negotiating bride price on Bougainville
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.

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Sharing culture with foreign friends

Kumbon - PNG flag in NYC
“Nothing makes me happier than to lift up the glorious flag of a thousand tribes here in the heart of New York City"

DANIEL KUMBON

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.

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The unearthing of 10,000 years of agriculture

Jack Golson (second left) and Philip Hughes (second right) with workmen from Kuk village  1974
Jack Golson (second left) and Philip Hughes (second right) with workmen from Kuk village, 1974

PETER JOKISIE
| 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.

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Lessons learned from my mother & my culture

Hausman
The cultural mandate of the hausman - the elders must instruct young men to learn wisdom and work hard

SIMON DAVIDSON
| 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.

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Hela: Will the people avenge Big Pig LNG?

Prized big pig in the main street of Tari (Albert Tagua)
Prized big pig in the main street of Tari (Albert Tagua)

SIMON DAVIDSON
| 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.

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Lady in mourning captivates me at the Enga show

Kumbon - Engan woman in mourning
"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"

DANIEL KUMBON

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" »


Remarkable ‘Melanesians’ found in Malaysia jungle

Batek Melanesian people of Malaysia (Dr Patrick Pikacha)
The Batek people of the Malaysian hinterland  who bear a striking resemblance to the people of Melanesia (Dr Patrick Pikacha)

GARRY ROCHE

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" »