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08 April 2016

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Kaimi, our traditions and cultures are dying. Only written pieces whether big or small will help. Joe Herman wrote another one like that too. Thank you son's of Pilikambi. Job well done

Martin has written a very good piece on tourism and tradition. My earlier comment relates to the creative industry, which in some sense is a sleeping giant, and its potential never utilized.

I hope people in the relevant positions of decision-making wake up to that.

The National Cultural Commission was recently jolted from its long self-imposed slumber, wasting precious time and opportunities and not doing anything constructive to bring out the creative and innovative energies as far as cultures and traditions are concerned.

It has been announced that NCC will become part of the National Museum and Art Gallery by the Government.

All I can remember over the years, is that NCC has held Mask Festivals in only certain and isolated locations of the country.

The creative industry is not very strong in this country, but if it were to be rejuvenated, it must start with the dances, arts and crafts, and way of life of the people.

I hope that under its new structure, ample attention is paid to kick-starting the creative industry - film, dance, songs, TV shows and so many other areas related to the work of NCC and its partners.

Excellent article, Nathan. Perhaps we can figure out a way to
re-ignite the passion to dance for ourselves, not for the tourism industry.

That's good news about the books that Polly and Akii have prepared and so is the recruitment of the two teachers and the provision of the house. I'm sure Keith will give the books plenty of publicity when they become available. Its also nice to know that some researchers give back to the communities in which they work.

The preservation of culture is what was in Bob Cleland's mind when he decided to fund the heritage category in the Crocodile Prize competition.

Writing things down, sadly, seems to be the only way a lot of culture will be preserved.

Good article Kaim.

I have lived here in Enga all my working life and have witnessed our traditions beginning to be forgotten by our younger generation. They don’t know the special songs sung at singsings. They don’t know how to put on traditional bilas on their bodies either before a dance or to compose songs for the occassion. In fact people are not organising Mali singsings anymore like in the 60s - 80s. A contribution factor could be the destructive tribal wars, people fearing that revenge killings could take place on unsuspecting participants.

The Mali sinsing is only performed at the annual Enga Cultural Show hoping the best performing group could win prizes. But like you point out – this is commercialisation. There is no love and concern for the continuity of the tradition of Mali singsings which were so impotant in Enga culture. Many aspects of our rich culture like the Sandalu and Sangai are also beginning to be forgotten.
When I went to school in the 60s, I did not have the chance to be initiated into youth initiation ceremonies. Cultural education of children in the Hausman gradually stopped.

But realizing this trend, the man you mention Mr Akii Tumu who also co-authored the book Historical Vines with Professor Polly Weissner published by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC are writing Cultural Curriculum Books (based on Enga Culture) to be taught in Enga schools.

Professor Weissner told me last week the books are being printed right now. Two senior High School teachers from Enga have been recruited to teach Cultural Education as a subject in the schools here. A new duplex house for them has been completed on the Enga Cultural Centre grounds. Schools in province are aware cultural education will be taught to encourage them to embrace our rich cultural heritage.

I am sure the youth will find that Enga traditional teachings were very much like teachings in the Holy Bible and our own Mama Loa or Constitution. Traditional teachings were necessary to contain people within the accepted norms, standards and teachings of traditional society. And our cultural artefacts added special meaning as well as Mali singsings, tee or trade exchanges, courting sessions etc etc..

Professor Weissner, Akii Tumu, the Education Division and the Enga Provincial Government must be applauded for taking the important step now to ensure continuity of Enga’s rich and varied cultures. The Hausman where such teachings took place is no longer there. And this cultural education program taught in the schools will be its equivalent.

The students ought to grasp this oportunity with both hands.

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