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13 March 2018


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Good on you Dr West. You told the story well except the last line.

I like Dr West. I wish there were more of them so they can tell the PNG story to their own people in a PNG-centric view.

Strange attire or dwellings make for better photos than people in 2nd hand clothes and corrugated roof houses. A few sample video clips of ‘natives’ will confirm this.

Quite a few, as Dr West suggested, open with semi-naked people doing traditional dances. During the video you can often see normal semi-permanent or even permanent homes in the distance.

The Trobriand Islands thrive on their very short skirted bare breasted nubile young dancers so that it is hard for westerners to imagine them dressed in normal working clothes in their schools, offices or laboratories.

Mind here in Wales we love to push the image of the bed sheeted Druids parading among our Standing Stone circles. Actually the tradition had almost died out until at the end of the 18th Century efforts were made to re-establish Eisteddfods. Welsh nationalist and tourists love them. Just as overseas visitors expect to see a gang of Morris dancers and a maypole in every English village.

Yesterday was Commonwealth day and I noticed the PNG High Commission was at Westminster Abbey wearing a smart black skirt and jacket. Near her was a grass skirted gent from one of the neighbouring island states. The temperature was around 10C!

Mind you the expats in PNG had a reverse take on native costume when Saturday nights they would dress up in silly westernised clothes unsuited to the equatorial climate of the country. This included formal footwear and even long gowns for the ladies that dragged in the mud on the way to the chosen home for the ritual Dinner Party.

Meanwhile, due to the humidity, their men were sweating in long trousers and long sleeved shirts. A sort of poor man’s Raj ritual, satirised so well in Garry Luhrs’ ‘Gentlemen’s Club’ tales at www.exkiap.

In 1974 when I wrote to my parents of my intention to marry a Lavongai young woman back came Mum’s most informed National Geographic query, “Does she wear clothes?”

I was wondering about that too Ed - "strongly" corrupt and incompetent perhaps.

I'm not sure about the 'breeds gentrification' either. Is the reporter talking about some sort of elitism? As I understand it the word 'gentry' is a pejorative term applied to snobbish people with aspirations to nobility.

And surely PNG still is tribal, as it is underdeveloped in more than just an industrial sense.

I can sympathise with the notion that assessing somewhere like PNG in western industrial terms is problematic but this has been used as an excuse by successive PNG governments to divert their failure to provide basic services to their people for a long time now.

I think Paige West (or the reporter) has a bad case of rose-coloured glasses.

Ref last para: ' ...with a strong government..' WTF???

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