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« Ambungke | Main | Crocodile Prize: The wheels that drive the COG – Francis Nii »

01 June 2014


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Neither Islam nor Christianity may save PNG culture.

Neither religion may save souls either despite their claim.

How many people have burned in the fires of both?

And still do.

Jerry - get real. More than 95% of PNG people are Christians.

Christianity is definitely not a religion for PNG. We should switch to Islam and embrace it because it will work well alongside our customs and traditions.

Western culture and Christianity have eroded our culture and traditions.

The ultimate movie about cultural difference must by Luc Besson's The Fifth Element. You must watch the whole thing, but here's a sample (music courtesy of Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti).

The Fifth Element is love.

This is an excellent article, highlighting as it does that "Western Civilisation" is loaded with values, practices and beliefs that do not necessarily translate that well into other cultures.

While I understand the sentiments expressed by Francis, I am a little concerned that people without any background knowledge of PNG might jump to the conclusion that westernised marriage was imposed by the former colonial administration.

So, as a point of clarification, I feel obliged to mention that in the colonial era traditional forms of marriage were clearly recognised by law and regarded as being no different to a western form of marriage.

Both were seen to be what they actually are, which is a form of contractual arrangement between two parties, the terms of which are agreed upon before the contract takes effect.

The current western style marriage is the result of a long period of development. It reflects the triumph of the idea of romantic love, which is a surprisingly modern notion.

Early marriage forms in Britain and Western Europe were frequently the result of arrangements between the families of the bride and groom and were often intended to create and consolidate familial and business relationships. Love had nothing to do with it.

This was especially so amongst the nobility, where women in particular were regarded as little more than chattels or pawns in the never ending "game of thrones" that was such a feature of European history. The negotiation of a dowry (bride price) was a prominent part of such marriages.

Even in the 19th century it was not uncommon for the impoverished English or European aristocracy to arrange marriages with cashed up American heiresses in order to restore the family fortunes. Winston Churchill was born of exactly such an arrangement, although it seems that his parents did, in fact, have a great fondness for one another.

So, really not that much different to the traditional arrangements that Francis has described so eloquently.

Yes, it's time we stopped taking our cultures for granted. Living in them does not mean that they will be preserved as the moral and practical elements that created cohesion in our society. We're already finding that out.

Despite the vast number of different cultures we so often boast about, each provincial government has done less than enough to preserve our customs.

Simply hosting a singsing is not enough.

Who teaches the songs? Who knows the story of the dances? Who understands the costume? Who appreciates the subtle movements and tone of voices?

We simply expect our cultures to go on without our intervention.

Wake up!

I love the idea of a cultural education institute. Every ethnic group could have one. It could include all aspects of culture. Knowledge of pottery making could be passed on.

I guess that many aspects of the traditions associated with marriage will die out. There are many marriage traditions in the Christian European culture which I guess have now been adopted by people in PNG.

The main thing is to see that marriage works. Down here in Australia the number of divorces is rising every year and that is very sad.

Well done, Francis for raising the seminal topic of protecting the building block of society: family.

Your comments mirror a universal trend lamented even among the western communities.

To regain (if possible) traction in this arena, it is important to uphold efforts like the Croc-prize comp.

The resulting exponential increase in creation of, and respect for language rebuilds those lost years and quantum of understanding among thinking people concerned with preserving a balance amid aspects of decline.

Keep up the writing, Bro.

I think every province needs one or more cultural centres where traditions can be preserved, taught and put on display. Many other traditions besides marriage are affected by westernization and need to be preserved.

With respect to the opening dispute between the man and his mother-in-law I couldn't help thinking about the custom of 'mother-in-law-avoidance which is common to many indigenous groups.

In Central Australia where I worked in the 1970s the tribal people still adhered to the rule. If you came across your mother-in-law the custom was to hightail it as quickly as possible.

Under no circumstances could you speak to her. It's a useful custom that could have gone the other way, passed from traditional culture to western culture.

Thank you Francis for this very important article. Rose and I have been weaving our way between different Kastom for some time now (10 years?).

The cultural differences are sometimes hard to understand.

- Where is the bride price?

- Why did you marry a PNG woman?

- Why didn't you dress properly?

- How many pigs did you pay?

- They will put a spell on you. Aren't you scared?

These are all questions I have been asked.

My one answer to Rose is - love is the most powerful magic.

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