KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN
An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Cleland Heritage Writing Award
THE SIMBU CULTURAL SHOW has been back this December after many years of hibernation. Though not many young people adorned themselves in traditional regalia, the old and middle-aged took pride in their culture and braved both the drizzle and heat to showcase it. Much talent, glamour and diversity were displayed.
Unfortunately, only two or three foreigners were seen in Kundiawa town and Simbu lost a large amount of tourism dollars. The landslips in the Mindima section of the Okuk Highway in the north and Kingstar to the east of Kundiawa town helped prevent the influx of tourism. The other reason is that Air Niugini hasn’t had direct flights to Simbu for a long time.
But that’s not all. The bad news was exacerbated because the show committee decided to pay themselves a hefty per diem as well as pilfering some funds. The cultural groups spent between K1,000 and K1,500 in the three days of the show to earn a meagre K200 profit. That’s an absolute loss to the cultural groups.
The talk on the streets in Kundiawa town simply affirms that the show committee were measly egocentric megalomaniacs. They belong to the big group of wreckers of the public good. Enough is enough; let us pray that the lord will give them one million boils on their dickheads.
Now, let us talk about some goodness. There were many exciting events at the show. In the midst of these was the Anganere Prostitution Band. The members are all in their late 60s. Their story shows them to be in the same category as the likes of the famous Wahgi Hellcats and other highlands bands of the 1970s.
Aure Baka of Ongloku clan in the Kundiawa Gembogl district returned from Port Moresby with a guitar in 1972. While in Port Moresby he saw a live performance of the Paramana Strangers string band of Aroma Coast and was captivated.
Upon his return to the Simbu Mountains, he told his peers back in Anganere about the big city lights, Ela Beach, the kekenis and the Papuan String bands.
His childhood friends, including Paul Kindi, Joe Koima, Eko Paul, Mangre 7 and Mende Soti, congregated around him, listened attentively and tried to fathom the descriptions of the Papuan land and seascapes and the kekenis that Aure described.
Tough Paul Kindi, still pondering over Aure’s stories of the Paramana Strangers, summoned his friends a few weeks later and suggested they form a string band since there was no string band in the area. Hence, a few years after Kiki Geno starred with his Paramana Strangers string band, they started their own.
Around that time, sosol or discos swept away Simbu’s famous and unique night courtships (karim lek and kukim nus). The discos quickly took over with their bamboo and string bands. The bands started to play in early evenings and continued until dawn.
Young men and women congregated and enjoyed the nights in sosol houses dancing and courting instead of at the traditional serenades in the girls’ homes.
The old people equated the discos with prostitution and were totally against the gathering of young people at the sosol houses. Nevertheless, the boys put a few rules together and sarcastically named their new band Pasindia (prostitution). Hence, Anganere Pasindia Band was born in 1973. The old people were kept away by the connotations of the band name.
Paul Kindi was named band leader and they added a couple of guitars to the one brought in by Aure. They started performing in the Kundiawa Gembogl area playing the ‘five’ or ‘rough’ keys.
They soon became famous with songs like Dina daina do, Kambuno Tine paga ire we, Tine Sunga Ambai wa, Lapun teeth bruk, Piru pa saiya uu’we, Mi stap long Kundiawa, Wanpla liklik meri, Suwai nik koraim bra and many more.
Soon Anganere Pasindia Band gained prominence and toured the Gembogl area. More crowds and accolades came in so the band decided to travel out of their homeland into neighbouring districts to perform during big occasions like school fetes, electioneering campaigns and other celebrations. They also travelled to Mt. Hagen, Goroka and Madang to perform during political rallies, conventions and other important gatherings.
On 16 September 1975, they made their first big public performance in Kundiawa town during PNG Independence Day celebrations and won first prize.
Paul Kindi, now a respected village court magistrate, said they learnt through trial and error and as the years moved on they improved their style of playing and composed songs that reflected the true Simbu lifestyle.
The Anganere Pasindia Band recorded with NBC Simbu in 1979. That was the first time they had set foot in the NBC Chimbu-Karai bilong Mambu studio.
In 1982, the Anganere Pasindia band played at a National Party convention in Kundiawa town and that day Paul Kindi’s style of playing his guitar held captive a Grade 9 student, Etwik of Dom. Paul also fell for her too and took her home after the show and married her.
However, as is the tradition with musicians, he divorced her a couple of years later. A few more women met the same fate when they ended up with Kindi too. The band leader is now with his latest wife and their children.
The Anganere Pasindia band also recorded songs with the PNG Karai Service in Australia. Their songs are still aired today.
Paul said, in those days women melted like butter in the sun when the Pasindia band took to the stage. Fans too showered them with food stuffs, money and grog.
By 1984, most members were married and their marital duties took them away from rehearsals and playing.
The members called it quits towards the end of 1984 when Paul Kindi was elected as a village court magistrate. The other members of band also realised that their kids were growing up quickly and they needed to spend more time on gardening and raising their family. The hibernation of the Simbu cultural show and the introduction of electronic music boxes was also a catalyst for the death of the band.
The December 2013 cultural show brought the members together for what was supposed to be their swan song performance. However, as the golden oldies took the stage the crowd went wild. The oldies relented and promised to turn up for the yearly Simbu cultural show and perform until they can walk no more. They said they will pass the baton on to their kids to take the name forward once they are on crutches.
The unusual thing about the founding members of the band is that, though they are all past the retirement age of 65, they are still alive, unlike other band members of the 1970s.
Councillor Pilot has talked Paul Kindi and his mates out of retirement to perform at the Simbu cultural shows. The Councillor has promised to buy costumes for the Anganere Pasindia Band’s golden oldies to return for the 2014 Simbu cultural show should it continue with a more morally upright and transparent show committee.
Their songs will surely live on but their legacy is threatened by electronic boom boxes and musical devices. The Paramana Strangers have moved on with the change in the music industry to perform using electronic musical instruments and studio recordings. Will the children of Anganere band members take the legacy to next level with live bands and recordings? The focus is now on the Anganere band member’s offspring.
The band leader, Paul Kindi, has consented to other string bands using their songs to do live performance but has warned solo artists and other electronic band members that their songs cannot be copied or recorded in recording studios without their consent. If done, the Anganere Pasindia band says it will not hesitate to take legal action.
Simbus hope to see the Anganere Pasindia Band members with costumes come alive again in the 2014 Simbu Cultural Show.