I READ somewhere that our brain can process images 60,000 times faster than it can process words - and that images can convey ideas which stick with us much longer than the words on a page.
I am sure this rings true the moment you see the images accompanying this story.
The two gentlemen you see in this first picture are Hon Glen Elmes MP, the local member for Noosa in the Queensland Parliament, and Tony Wellington, the mayor for Noosa Shire, proudly showing the gifts of sand paintings donated to them and the people of Noosa by Daniel Kumbon and his wife Julie.
During last year’s McKinnon-Paga Hill sponsored study tour of Australia, Daniel, Martyn Namorong and I didn’t discuss bringing PNG arts and crafts for our Aussie friends.
However, of my own accord, I brought gifts of highlands bilums of different styles and, without me knowing it, Daniel and Julie did the same. They brought bilums, caps and two large sand paintings that vividly depict the Engan culture.
Keith and Councillor Ingrid Jackson’s home in Noosa was filled with excitement and hilarity when Daniel, Julie and I presented our gifts at the second of two receptions hosted by Keith and Ingrid.
We also presented copies of our books to our Aussie friends. In this picture Ingrid is showing off her gifts.
A hilarious moment came when Daniel handed over Enga caps and a few of the Australian gentlemen had to strain their head muscles to wear them. Everyone burst into laughter to see too small caps perched on the heads of Glen and Keith.
Glen, Tony and everyone who attended the receptions were lovely and cheerful people. Amongst them was Deborah Carlyon, a Simbu-Aussie descendant and author of Mama Kuma: One woman, two cultures. I was very happy meeting my wantok and chatted with her about her Sinasina origins.
The receptions were the most enjoyable moment of my trip, even though I was down with terrible flu on the first evening.
My heartfelt thank you goes to Glen Elmes and Tony Wellington for receiving us and giving us special recognition at the political level, which made our visit more meaningful and significant.
Thanks to Keith, Ingrid, Ben and Becky for everything that they did for us. Their hospitality was awesome. Ben Jackson’s management of the whole week was exceptional, especially for a young man. I could see Keith’s pedigree in him.
Thank you to the many friends in Brisbane - Rob Parer, Bob Cleland, Bernard Cordon, Murray and Joan Bladwell, Lindsay Bond, Patrick Hynes and others including the Brisbane Writers Festival organisers and big Ted and his brawny boys at Donation-in-Kind for treating us with generosity and kindness.
Thank you also to the friendly Air Niugini ground staff both in Moresby and Brisbane and the flight crews. They all made our tour of Australia smooth and enjoyable.
One thing that made my heart cry while I was in Brisbane, and even to this day, is that apart from Ben Jackson most of our friends and patriots of our cause are in their older years.
What will happen to our relationship after these people are gone? Every time I think about this, my heart cries. I would be happy if more young Australians come on board and strengthen the relationship.
Although I didn’t bring a boomerang home for my children to keep as memorabilia of my visit to Kangarooland, we left our footprints behind and I would like this tradition of art and culture exchange to continue to build strong relations between writers and politicians of our two countries.
PS: This article should have appeared in PNG Attitude some time ago but my old desktop PC on which I wrote it decided to go into sleep and only recently came back to life. Nevertheless, better late than never.