OVER the Independence weekend, Madang hosted its annual festival although with a little less fanfare as it was a children’s festival.
Children of Western Highlands’ residents at Admin Compound and Divine Word campus made meaning of it by staging a rare war-cry and chant called Wu Paka.
It was very aggressive and fierce but eye-catching for festival goers who followed the action intently, marched along and begged for more.
Mothers shed tears openly given the importance of such a practice in the Melpa culture of the Western Highlands. That said, it seems the children who took part were born in Madang.
The Wu Paka ceremony has a special meaning in Melpa culture. When a village leader or chief is killed in an accident or for some unexplained reason, revenge seems to be the immediate option for tribesmen.
To show their loss, grief and to take revenge, the tribe undertakes a Wu Paka ritual, predominantly by men but also strong women.