IN May 1949, the renowned Australian painter William Dobell (1899–1970), in an endeavour to escape publicity after his 1948 Archibald Prize win, left Australia with his friend, writer Colin Simpson, in the company of philanthropist and trustee of Taronga Park Zoo, Sir Edward Hallstrom.
He was one of 27 guests flown by Hallstrom from Australia to Port Moresby and then on to Hallstrom’s experimental sheep station and bird of paradise sanctuary at Nondugl in the Highlands.
It was the first time Dobell had ever stepped inside an aircraft and, despite initial nerves, he was captivated by everything he saw.
UNBEKNOWNST to me Rose had learned to play chess.
I used to play the great game 20 years ago and still had a chess set in a cupboard. We retrieved it and I set up the pieces.
"But this is different," Rose said. “I’m Papua New Guinean, you’re Australian, so you play black and I play white.”
I agreed to that, but there was more.
“And every time we lose a piece, there is a musical forfeit."
Musical chess? That was interesting. I had a large collections of CDs and MP3s so it was feasible.
Rose had done her research and opened with the King's Gambit. I replied with the Domiano Defence.
"I take your pawn!” Rose exclaimed, “now you must play me a forfeit."
I offered the Freedom Medley.
An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Award for Tourism, Arts and Culture
I was in Mt Hagen recently on my first trip ever. One of the stories I’d heard about the hotel where I was staying was that it had the most exquisitely written menu.
My colleagues had joked about the overuse of superlatives by the menu’s author. One thing they did not mention though is that it had another trick up its sleeve.
On that first evening the wind seemed to have picked up and a slight drizzle sent the temperatures plummeting below my comfort zone. The grey overcast sky hung heavily against the black silhouette of casuarina trees and crooked spine of the ranges.
I sat at the restaurant trying to order from that colourfully written menu while watching wafts of mist rising from the cold water of the swimming pool and listening to canned music spewing of the speakers.
AN exhibition of exceptional works of art from the extensive collection of Papua New Guinea’s National Museum and Art Gallery is to be held to mark 40 years of Independence and display the foundations of the nation’s unique identity.
The Built on Culture exhibition, beginning in September, will feature more than 90 outstanding works from the museum’s collection of 80,000 objects. The exhibition will cover artwork from each of PNG’s 21 provinces and the National Capital District.
It will include enigmatic stone sculptures from thousands of years ago as well as paintings and prints by Mathias Kauage, Jakupa Ako and Timothy Akis, who, at the time of PNG’s Independence, forged a unique style of art fusing traditional stories with new forms of expression.
From the Museum’s storerooms will come stunning headdresses, masks and ceremonial objects not seen since they were worn in performances in remote villages.
THERE'S a black man in our house!" I cried.
Mum came in to my bedroom to comfort me. "Don't worry he's a friend".
It was 1959. I was an Australian kid living in London and had never seen a black person before.
Uriel Porter was a beautiful man. Dad had given him lodgings, which were scarce for black men in 1950s London.
He was a Seventh Day Adventist, so Dad had offered him a room.
In the morning they awoke me with piano practice. So it was I got to know Gershwin and Porter, the religious classics and Negro spirituals. It was a great way to wake up.
A new amphitheatre at Papua New Guinea’s National Museum and Art Gallery has been named in honour of PNG’s pioneering woman writer, Nora Vagi Brash,
What was 12 months ago an eyesore for Museum staff and patrons has been brought back to life with National Government funding.
Minister for Tourism Arts and Culture Boka Kondra was guest of honour at the opening of the rehabilitated facility.
Mr Kondra pleaded with the Museum and artists to use the amphitheatre and help the National Government revive PNG’s contemporary cultural heritage.
The Nora Vagi Brash Amphitheatre recognises a person Mr Kondra branded as “this exceptional woman and thinker”.
He said that her work had been “groundbreaking and timeless” and “had mirrored the growing pains of a newly independent Papua New Guinea”.
THE armed forces of Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom have a great tradition of entertaining the troops in wartime through concert parties which bring popular entertainers to the frontline.
The tradition dates back to World War I when the generals decided to bring some light entertainment and comedy to the troops to keep their minds off more bloodthirsty matters.
The concert parties continued post-war in Malaysia (It aint' half hot mum, the popular television series used this as context), Vietnam and in other wars. As the Australian War Memorial recorded:
I know this looks like a ridiculous generalisation. And I only use the term 'black people' to provide a distinction with the music of 'white people'.
I mean the whities have Monteverdi, Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. And the rest.
What do black people have?
Well they have also have music which goes back thousands of years, in Papua New Guinea no less than elsewhere.
As Mana taught me with her Kuman singing (God nina unagle dingra wo wei. Naya sugl mola wo wei).
Then there is American Gospel.
YES there really is a blue-eyed gecko. National Geographic identifies it as Smith’s green-eyed gecko but its eyes looks blue to me. And to Uncle John Bomai.
Uncle John captures the image beautifully in this painting. Just a snippet as my scanner isn't big enough to take in the whole work.
Who is Uncle John? Well he's a Simbu artist who can be found most days selling his works to tourists at the small street market outside the Holiday Inn in Port Moresby.
He's a relative of ours who studied under the famous Mathias Kauage but makes his living in the tourist trade.
A few year ago we walked into a hotel in Darwin on a baking hot afternoon and, lo and behold, there was a beautiful PNG painting hanging above the reception desk.
An entry in The Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism
TOM Deko’s passion for the arts has given him international exposure, enabling him to participate at various international art exhibitions including in Basel, Switzerland later this month.
Tom is from the Makia village in the Bena Bena District of Eastern Highlands Province. He has left for Switzerland to install a sculpture he created for the Basel Tropical Institute.
In 2005, he was commissioned by the Institute of Medical Research in Goroka to produce a sculpture portraying its work. Tom created a sculpture including a scientist with a microscope, a person holding a test tube next to a tree and a mosquito representing the disease.
Little did he know that this sculpture would gain him international attention and an invitation to showcase his work in Basel.
MEMBERS of the security subcommittee of the 5th Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture made security assessments of two major festival venues last week.
Led by subcommittee chairman, Noel Sarei, the team (pictured) visited Constitution Park, the main festival venue, and Sir John Guise Stadium, which will host the festival opening and closing ceremonies.
“We are here to see both venues so that the subcommittee inspects first-hand the grounds, entry and exit points, and requirements for security and protocol”, said Mr Sarei.
Living Art in Papua New Guinea by Susan Cochrane, produced and distributed by Contemporary Arts Media / Artfilms as a two DVD set. You can purchase the book online here
IT’S AN ART BOOK FOR THE DIGITAL AGE and is the culmination of 30 years research, writing and curating activities in Papua New Guinea. It has morphed from its original concept as an illustrated art book into an interactive electronic book.
The aim of Living Art is to enrich people’s imagination and visual experience with the living arts of Papua New Guinea. It presents artworks and cultural performances that are astonishing in their dramatic visual effect and virtuosity.
CATHERINE WILSON | Art Asia Pacific
IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA state infrastructure and support for the visual arts are meagre, with most artists self-reliant. The National Museum and Art Gallery in Port Moresby is a repository of 55,000 anthropological and archaeological artefacts and 7,000 contemporary works, and led by Cambridge-educated director Andrew Moutu.
The 11th Luk Save Art Show (pictured) held in September at Port Moresby’s Crowne Plaza Hotel comprised around 200 artworks, ranging from drawings, paintings and sculpture to pottery and, for the first year, photography, by more than 56 artists.
The NASFUND Best in Show award was presented to Johannes Gelag for his woodblock print, Family Against the Storm (2013).
MY DAD WAS A MUSICIAN. More specifically he was a choirmaster. We had an old Ferrograph tape recorder and he had some precious recordings that he held in high regard, including the Vienna Boys Choir, Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, the LSO Chorus, Mahalia Jackson and Tommy Dorsey and the Golden Gate Quartet.
But the best of them all was the choir of King's College Cambridge. Christmas music for the ages.
We had some Aussie friends around for Christmas in 1969. Dad said, "I'll play you the best choir ever."
MEGAN DOHERTY | The Canberra Times
A PORTRAIT WAS PAINTED of ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher at the Papua New Guinea High Commission in Canberra recently, coincidentally after the deadly attack in PNG on Australian hikers and their porters.
The painting, completed in just two hours by young Papua New Guinean artist Jeffry Feeger, was a gift to the ACT as part of its centenary celebrations.
It was also recognition of Ms Gallagher's connection to the country. Her adopted brother Richard Gallagher is of PNG-Chinese descent and he has decided to start the journey of finding out more about his heritage.
KATE RODGER | 3 News
It’s been quite a journey for Kiwi director Andrew Adamson. Tonight's New Zealand premiere is two years on from the shoot, and a year after he first showed it at the Toronto Film Festival.
Since then, he's been busy re-cutting it. "The version I showed at Toronto was a lot harsher, and I felt it needed that at the time. I think to some degree I was desensitised," says Adamson.
PAUL BUSCH | Tonedeaf.com
WHEN YOU THINK OF female musicians from Papua New Guinea who have migrated to Australia and who possess a truly amazing set of pipes, combined with a whimsical flair for style and their politics also appear to be in the right place, who do you think of?
Rightly so, maybe you don’t think of anyone. This is all about to change.
The artist in question is Ngaiire and she moved to the Land Down Under at the tender age of 16. The travels of her academic parents brought her to this foreign land.
These days, when not travelling, she is a Brisbane-based painter, illustrator and art consultant. Charleen is also prominent in supporting charities through her art.
It happened to be the inimitable Leonard Roka who first drew my attention to Charleen’s work. And I was knocked out by it.
Lalovai Peseta, Béatrice Camallonga, Francis Pesamino, Jeffry Feeger, and Yvonne C Neth now have their works on display in a virtual gallery organised by the Pacific Islands Society.
These exceptionally talented young artists each bring unique style and interpretation to their work.
The lyrics of The Kiap Song, written by David Bridie, certainly did not endear the band to some of the old timers in Papua New Guinea when they toured there.
A kiap was (usually) an expatriate Australian patrol officer in PNG's pre-independence days (pre-1975), but the term is still used today to refer to colonial authorities.
PHIL FITZPATRICK | PNG Resources Magazine
THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA GOVERNMENT has approved K453 million in funding for the fifth Melanesian Festival of Arts, set for July 2014, Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Boka Kondra, has announced.
Rights to host the 2014 Festival were awarded to Papua New Guinea in 2010 at a Cultural Ministers Meeting in New Caledonia, home of the 2010 Festival.
The Post Courier newspaper quoted Mr Kondra as saying the funds would be made available from next year’s national budget.
TIMOTHY POPE | Radio Australia
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY in Papua New Guinea is preparing to take possession of more than 300 sculptures, artworks and cultural artefacts which are being returned to the country by a former resident.
Gabriel Keleny, 92, has decided to return the vast collection acquired over the 30 years he spent living and working in PNG. It's the single largest donation in the museum's history.
IN 2012, the University of Papua New Guinea, PNG Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross began the Bougainville Art Project, aimed at giving Bougainvillean artists a platform to display their work.
Last month saw the project release its first publication, Painting memories and experiences of the Bougainville conflict, to display works about the period of civil war in what is now the Autonomous province of Bougainville.
PEABODY MUSEUM OF ARCHAEOLOGY & ETHNOLOGY
Papua New Guinea portraits & diaries. From the series ‘Portraits’ by Stephen Dupont, part of his Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography. Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2 May - 2 September 2013
THE PEABODY MUSEUM of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University in the United States will next month present a new exhibition on Papua New Guinea by award-winning Australian photographer Stephen Dupont.
As the Museum’s 2010 Robert Gardner Photography Fellow, Dupont returned to PNG and explored the mountainous Highlands, the serpentine Sepik River and the dangerously gritty capital city, Port Moresby.
ANNA SOMERS COCKS | The Art Newspaper
IN LONDON LAST NOVEMBER, the director of the Tate Gallery, Nicholas Serota, said that it would be spending around £2m a year—40% of its acquisitions budget—on art from outside Europe and North America.
The Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art in New York have announced similar policies.
The question is, how to find out about art and artists in areas of the world that often do not have an evolved gallery system or, indeed, a defined history of contemporary art (what does “contemporary” mean, for example, in Papua New Guinea or, indeed, in China?).
There is one museum that has been working on this long before everyone else: the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, which 20 years ago held the first Asia Pacific Triennial.
In 2006, the gallery opened the Gallery of Modern Art, forming Qagoma, whose acting director Suhanya Raffel says: “We now accept that contemporary art is syncretic and cross-cultural, that canonical assumptions about art history are routinely questioned.”
For this year’s star billing, Papua New Guinea, the Gallery of Modern Art has collaborated with the artists and the architect Martin Fowler, who grew up in PNG and has designed Papua New Guinea’s museum.
The first thing you see when you go into the Gallery of Modern Art is a huge painted gable of the kind found on ritual buildings in East Sepik.
Anyone can enjoy its splendid decorative qualities, but all kinds of ritual meanings are also bound up in it, and these have been respected by the gallery.
We are told that the senior artist of the team that came to Brisbane to paint it said the big spirit man, Puti, represented at the top of the gable, gave him permission to make this spirit house in Australia and to use synthetic polymer paints.
One may smile, but it is in earnest. There are also wonderfully decorative Papua New Guinean full-body masks.
The gallery has a good word for this art: “customary”, that is, the product of customs, which is much better than “ethnic” or, worse still, “tribal”, epithets that consign such work to the anthropological compound.
A stimulating essay in the catalogue is about how customary art is not static, as we tend to think, but evolves according to criteria of its own and in response to outside events. The message is: we have a lot to learn.
The paintings and carvings have been combined within a large-scale structure based on the customary kurrumbu (spirit house).
The kurrumbu plays an important role in Kwoma cultural life and is used regularly by community members as a place where they can gather to discuss important issues, hold ceremonies and initiate new social and cultural developments.
The ceilings, structural posts and internal furniture of the kurrumbu are decorated with paintings and carvings that are closely tied to creation stories and clan designs.
The presence of the ancestral spirits embodied by the works assists community members in their decision making process, energises ceremony and inspires new ideas.
For the Gallery to feature the Sepik carvings and art in such a prominent display is a powerful recognition of PNG art and culture.
Anton Waiawas, b.1952, Tongwinjamb village
Rex Maukos, b.1960, Tongwinjamb village
Kevin Apsepa, b.1971, Ambunti village
Terry Pakiey, b.1974, Tongwinjamb village
Simon Goiyap, b.1973, Mino village
Nelson Makamoi, b.1982, Tongwinjamb village
Jamie Jimok, b.1982, Tongwinjamb village
KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN | Supported by the Phil Fitzpatrick Writing Fellowship
The band was humbly born in the Minj area of the Jiwaka Province in December 1973. The founder was a self-taught musician who started with a ukulele in 1963.
Pat Siwi (pictured) was only 18 years old when he started the band and since then he has become a household name.
He is now among PNG’s top music icons, just like the late John Wong, George Telek and Henry Peni. His Wahgi Hellcats also sits comfortably among other top bands like Barike, Painim Wok, April Sun and Sirosis.
In the 1960s, young Pat had a very close friend, David Peri, who was a half caste Simbu-Sepik.
Pat and David attended Minj primary school and soon realized they both liked music. At the same time, they found one of Pat Siwi’s cousins, Siwi Muruk, who was also half caste Simbu-Sepik and who also liked music.
Pat, David and Siwi officially came together and formed a band in December 1973. They named it the Wahgi Hellcats.
In those nostalgic days Pat was the main vocalist and played guitar. David was the harmonist and played bass guitar. Siwi had the drums perfectly under control.
They started playing around clubs using borrowed instruments. Most of the equipment was borrowed from the University of Technology where Pat was an architecture student from 1971 to 1973.
Since the birth of the Wahgi Hellcats many other musicians have come and gone, but the band has satisfied the test of time.
Siwi Muruk was a bit of a humbug and Pat had to keep an eye on him all the time. Fortunately, Pat was a natural leader and he kept the group together and the legacy they left in the highlands and the PNG music industry stands head to head with other consistent performers like Barike, Painim Wok, April Sun and Sirosis.
Pat Siwi’s leadership abilities were not a fluke. He is from the Enduga tribe of the Simbu Province and his mother is from Enga. Pat’s mother is from the first sister; Peter Ipatas, the proactive and popular veteran Enga Governor, is from the second sister. And Daniel Kapi, a former MP, is from the third sister.
“I thought I was born before my time. There was no music industry in PNG when I started,” said Pat.
GANJIKI D WAYNE | Supported by the Bea Amaya Writing Fellowship
WHEN HE FIRST TOOK OFFICE I used to hear news about Governor Powes Parkop’s vision to clean the city and the people’s mindsets by the year 2012.
With that year coming to an end now, how have we fared? Have we changed?
Parkop posed the question to a workshop of certain middle level bureaucrats, “How do we get people to change their mindsets and attitudes?” Indeed: “How?”
Mindsets and attitudes cannot be legislated or regulated into being. They exist free of the external things we set up to control society.
Conscience is the freest component of a human person. Inserted and guaranteed by God Himself. I could even say that the freedom of conscience is a freedom more precious than liberty itself.
Throughout history and even today people have sacrificed their physical freedom and even their lives to keep their consciences free. And the most powerful of people have been those who have been able to permeate people’s conscience.
Leadership, I heard from Myles Munroe, is the ability to influence human behaviour. Human behaviour is a product of the human conscience. Leadership is therefore the ability to influence the human conscience to such an extent as it affects human behaviour.
All these matters considered, I have concluded who the real leaders of this nation are.
They are not the prime ministers, the members of parliament or the nation’s top bureaucrats. They are not the ones who possess power or control over vast amounts of money or land or people. They are not those who have many wives and massive wealth; or who drive successful businesses and expensive vehicles.
For me, the true leaders are smaller people. They probably live with relatives because they can’t afford rentals. Maybe they make their homes in settlements. They possibly have small blue-collar jobs that they struggle through every day.
But they are famous people. Known and loved by many who share the same everyday experiences they do. They are the local songwriters, singers, poets, writers and the storytellers. But I’ll focus on the songwriters and singers because that segment of the arts has more dominion in PNG than the storytelling, books and poetry.
The majority in this nation listens to music and song every day. And songs have the ability to stick and continually play in the minds of people.
The words, aided by music, can seep easily into our subconscious, shaping the mindset without us even knowing it.
When we constantly listen to the same thing we usually end up believing it—without even making a conscious decision to start believing. Sooner or later we start living out the kind of beliefs transmitted by the songs. Our behaviour is affected.
Human behaviour is shaped by what we constantly hear, see and read—by what is constantly communicated to us. Politicians can deliver speeches once in a while but their words do not dwell in our minds and hearts as much as songs and music.
Hence politicians, despite having the authority to make laws and the macro-decisions for the country, do not have much influence on the people’s behaviour. That privilege (or responsibility) lies with our song-writers and singers.
The problem, however, is that many popular local songs are full of negative themes such as self-pity and regret, low self-esteem, loss of hope (“I give up”) etc. They are uninspiring and narrow-minded. They stimulate fleeting desires that can never be satisfied.
BRIAN KARLOVSKY | Hornsby Advocate (Sydney)
IT'S 20 YEARS SINCE former London Times journalist Robert Cockburn, who was covering the Bougainville conflict, reported for his newspaper and the BBC on the murder of a young Bougainvillean bus driver.
But the chilling scene and the saga of a mining company's activities prompting civil war in Bougainville, is set to be brought to life in a fictional drama, Hotel Hibiscus, at the Zenith Theatre this month.
"There was the murder of a young village bus driver, who I found in the mortuary," Mr Cockburn, 59, said. "I felt so moved because it was an innocent who was caught up and shot and that's where the play began. It was very immediate and very personal."
Set on fictional Hibiscus Island in Papua New Guinea, Hotel Hibiscus is a brutally revealing account of Australian involvement in the six year "dirty war" on Bougainville.
Mr Cockburn, who also covered the Maralinga Royal Commission while Australian correspondent for The Times, said there were still a lot of questions to be answered.
"There was a recent announcement in the US Supreme Court where it had given them permission to bring a case on genocide and war crimes against the miners operating at Bougainville at that time," he said.
"That case is on going and brings the story right up to date and throws it into the future. I will be watching with a professional eye what happens in the court case."
Hotel Hibiscus is an Australian political thriller that questions our complicity and silence in war crimes carried out just 20 years ago. Thornleigh resident Robert Cockburn wrote it while he reported on the Bougainville conflict in the 1990s.
Photo: Kristi Miller
It seems some writer’s pleasure to conjure
Words of shimmering beauty, rich and rare
Verbose prose, wrought in great style and glamour
Express and expose; whose cupboards are bare?
It’s all about me and the things I see
My feelings and thinkings and fantasies
It’s all about them, what they did to me
Their foibles and turmoils and angst at me
Let a word put in edgewise be sharper
To cut to the chase, to search and to sow
To draw a map to a hidden treasure
To plant a seed so a mustard tree grows
Why write of our sorrow and misery?
Why not instead rewrite our history?
POYAP JAMES ROONEY
I know you! I see you! I now know you, I didn’t before.
You were here yesterday, last week; last month… you’ve been around a while haven’t you?
You know your way around, you know your paths of least resistance, and you know how to recognise your victims - the naïve, defenceless beings yet to learn your conniving ways, yet to recognise you through your crafty disguises.
You’re a smooth operator, suave, you know how to mingle, charm and entice your victims.
You’ve many a-times pretended and convince me that we were friends -
“I’m your friend, I’ll give you strength” I’ve heard you whisper many times before, and I believed you, oh did I believe you.
You convinced me our combination was invincible, indestructible and I thought we could do anything together and no matter what? No-one could ever touch us. You fuelled me with righteous indignation, which severed my power of reason, my rationality, and my mind. Such was your luring influence, you master of illusion.
In our passion fuelled frenzies we built houses of cards and on numerous occasions you led me to the precipice of my life and tried to convince me against my mind that I could fly. But then it all came tumbling down on me, I imploded as reality compressed around me while you, you disappeared into thin air.
Once again I found myself alone, floating in the middle of the ocean of life on that wooden thatched raft which is reality, which is existence, which is nature.
I forgive myself, for I am human and I am alive. I am, therefore I can and will think. I now know you are an effect, not a cause. I, and I alone have within me the power to cause the effects I desire. It may take a while, but there is land on this Earth, and I’ll get there on this wooden raft of mine.
We’ll meet again and I might even invite you to sail with me on occasions, but on my terms, I’ll be in control… not you.
In the temple of our democracy
The tome of our founding law
Has been torn asunder
And the desecraters
Elevated to demi-gods
For whom, upon corrupted altars,
Our children’s futures are surrendered.
But would we see our nation rise?
It is for us to become a sacrifice.
Who would lead us Péngé?
Would it be you my friend?
Go then to the temple
And hurl yourself upon the altar
A sacrifice for an unrepentant lot.
You who would lead us
What right is yours?
A privilege indeed
A blessed burden.
National elections in the Eastern Highlands
Multitudes move, with songs in noise;
many without a mind, a few without a stomach;
and a leader is all they want, funny a need it isn’t;
and alone I journey on, amidst no daffodils nor flags;
and an injured inner eye and a heavy heart is all I posses;
then multitudes sing again, many without a mind, a few without a stomach;
no wrinkles of love nor hisses of storms, but with more songs and a growing want of a leader.
Two months and a week
Weary journey to seek
True words that flowed
From a wellspring glowed
Intentions of noble kind
But now, did they mind?
Songs replace noble words
Noble words scurry down dark roads
Multitudes arrived without a brain
A few without a stomach is my gain
My favourite I’ll remain
Oh that’ll ever maintain
TODAY’S EDITORIAL IN THE
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
THE STAND-OFF BETWEEN Papua New Guinea's parliament and its judiciary reached a dangerous flashpoint last week, which can only dismay the country's well-wishers in Australia.
The rights and wrongs of the legal and constitutional points involved are too arcane for all but a few specialists to grasp fully. What is clear is that both sides of the political contest at the bottom of it are resorting to force.
The action of the Deputy Prime Minister, Belden Namah, in storming into the Supreme Court at the head of a posse of police, to order the arrest of the chief justice, Salamo Injia, for sedition is outrageous. Namah is not the instrument of the law, nor are powers of prosecution on other laws such as sedition part of his ministerial responsibilities.
It was a snap, unilateral political arrest. The police, legal agencies and lower courts should have no bar of it but it appears they have. Five months ago Namah gave amnesty to some armed soldiers who had tried intervening in politics. Now he sees sedition in a private emails between two judges.
Similarly, some police associated with the officer appointed as police commissioner by the ousted prime minister Michael Somare made a disturbing intervention. They blocked access to the parliament on Friday to prevent Peter O'Neill, who replaced Somare in August, recalling MPs to reaffirm parliamentary support for his leadership. This is a contest between the law, as the highest court interprets it, and the parliament. The constitutional dilemma remains.
O'Neill convened parliament and retains its confidence, gaining extra emergency powers. The chief justice remains on the bench, despite government efforts to suspend him, and the court's ruling that the ousting of Somare was invalid also stands.
Fortunately, this parliament is in its last weeks, as elections are due next month - a resolution in practical terms. Debate will continue whether Salamo was right to push things on such fine points of parliamentary procedure, knowing political chaos could result, when the voters have an early chance to decide. The Supreme Court's important role against political misconduct now seems greatly weakened.
That PNG gets a fair and well-run election on schedule is supremely important. In its 37 years of independence from Australia, it has stuck to the constitutional schedule assiduously, despite many problems in holding elections in such difficult terrain.
Politics have been debased at times by bribery and intimidation but elections have delivered political change accepted by all.
O'Neill has headed off a push from within his ranks to delay the vote. He and his colleagues must now apply all possible resources to ensure an honest, transparent election.
The next parliament will present a tremendous opportunity for PNG's 7 million people. The ExxonMobil liquefied natural gas project centred on the southern highlands will start deliveries to foreign customers in 2014. In its first year, it will boost gross domestic product by 20 to 25 per cent. Already, development work has given PNG the seventh highest growth rate in the world. The revenue streams will mightily boost the government's resources.
But much of the population still lives a subsistence lifestyle, growing and catching food, barely touching the modern economy except in the odd cash sale. How to connect that LNG revenue and other resources from tax-paying activity with that subsistence village world is the job of the government.
It means steady painstaking work in extending roads and boat jetties, harnessing communication leaps such as the spread of mobile telephones, improving security on roads and in market places, and building human capacity through schooling, health services and adult education.
We can only hope the next parliament focuses more on these policies and less on squabbling over the spoils of office.
BY PETER KRANZ
Through broken house and way
The winds blow bleak and shrill.
Tambus forced away.
Nor is there friend today
To speak them gud or ill:
There is nothing more to say.
Why is it we are then waylaid
Around the smashed-up shell?
They all are gone away,
And our poor wantok-way
For them is giaman still:
There is nothing more to say.
There is ruin and decay
In our House upon the Hill:
They all are gone away,
There is nothing more to say.
BY KEITH JACKSON
WHEN DUBBO DAVE KESBY, who died last week, had to give away driving his cab because of ill health, he put his time into forming and playing with the Hornsby Berowra Ukulele Group (otherwise known as Hornsby BUGs) in Sydney’s north.
The 24-strong group played at Dave’s memorial service last Wednesday and now has been joined by two new Papua New Guinean residents of Berowra, Rosaline and Roven, who had their initial outing with BUGS at the Berowra Pub last Friday.
I think you’ll find their performance (which is now on YouTube) as exhilarating and joyful as the live audience did.
Thanks to Elissa Kesby for the tip-off. “They wanted to sing a traditional song and they seem quite at home with the ukuleles,” Elissa says. “I thought it was quite nice that this connection with Dave, unwittingly, happened.”
Me too. Because BUGS is part of Dave's legacy now. And I love the chocolate moment at the end of the clip....
BY JEFFRY FEEGER
WHILE I WAS DOWN IN SYDNEY, Papua New Guinea's very own deputy prime minister Belden Namah created a media frenzy; appearing on front pages of Australian newspapers with allegations made against him of sexual harassment, heavy intoxication and gross spending at Sydney’s Star casino.
So on Friday 16 March, the day before I left Sydney I decided to paint live in public outside the Opera House and portray our deputy PM in a more dignified, respectful manner, showing the kind of leader we wish we could have representing our country.
PNG's very own talented graphic artist Samson Korawali and renowned journalist Alexander Rheeney were also on hand to document every moment. Together we were able to muster a small crowd of wantoks and engage conversation with passers by.
This kind of impromptu performance and collaboration is what we believe to be the result of a significant paradigm shift in the expression of human beings, being spurred on by rapid changes in media technology and the social media revolution now sweeping Papua New Guinea and the world.
We hope that new forms of self expression through art and media can become powerful tools to guide, influence and inspire young people for positive change towards greater sense of self, identity and empowerment.
Photograph by Samson Korowali
BY MICHAEL THEOPHILUS DOM
in the aftermath
of war and through life’s changes –
hope for a new day
across the oceans
to a desert continent;
to build a new home
we have not heard tales
of the woman beside him;
from his we know hers
from one death, rebirth;
many new paths for a soul
to seek his own truth
rivers flow apart;
in the salted ocean
they will meet again
high in the mountains
an old man leads a tour group…
on a bicycle!
a few broken ribs:
India is amazing,
as they say he was
a tale he told once;
he slept in a rice paddy
somewhere in Japan
once as enemies
they met across battle lines –
then he wrote them books
a great man we say,
but he was a good father
even before that
I know Keith Jackson
and that is now as good as
knowing Stan Jackson.
AS THE SUN SETS over Santiago, Chile, perhaps the last great city in the world to still be in St Valentine's Day, I can report that San Valentino is richly acknowledged here - hawkers bearing bunches of long-stem flowers, senorinas in full traditional garb - and a final poem from Papua New Guinea poet JIMMY DREKORE to skim around the globe....
Happy Valentine’s Day
If I am lost in the universe
I’ll write your name among the stars
You can see it every night
So you can remember
I love you to the ends of the universe
If I am lost on an island
I’ll write your name on the sand
The waves will carry it to the ocean
So you can remember
I love you to the depths of the ocean
If I am lost in a jungle
I’ll write your name on a vine
it will climb to the top
So you can remember
I love you to the heavens above
If I’m washed away in a river
I’ll write on your name on a pebble
It’ll find its way to the banks
So you can remember
I love you to the edge of the sphere
To the ends of the universe - see how wide is my love
To the depths of the ocean - see how deep is my love
To the heavens above - see how straight is my love
To the edge of the sphere - see how complete is my love
I shall love you from dawn to noon and hold you close to my heart
We shall leave all the pain and sorrow behind us
Embrace each other and look out into the ocean
Let our love sail far and beyond the horizon
For time is not our choice
If I’m given one wish
I wish you were right beside me
So I can whisper to you
Happy Valentine’s Day
DEDICATED to the missing children of the sinking ferry. Spend valuable time with your children and appreciate their little moments. You never know if they may not be with you the next moment....
He woke me up
I got up
I carried him to the side
For a little ride
On my shoulder
No monster would bother
He slept again
I had to maintain
Under the southern skies
Stars smiled with glittering eyes
I listened to his breathing
He was communicating
Once or twice he smiled
And they smiled
I tried to see who
It was all blue
When I opened my eye
I see the sky
His last rest
was on my chest
I felt the emptiness
like the wilderness
the bitter cold
no one could hold
No more to tell
Only tears fell
My little Tonton
I was torn
Jimmy Drekore won the Crocodile Prize for Poetry in 2011. He is president of the Simbu Children Foundation
Reports reaching the newspaper have said the vessel was overloaded, allegedly carrying more than 700 passengers: 400 when it left Buka, more than 100 in Rabaul, and about 360 in Kavieng and Kimbe.
This is much more than the 350 that had been quoted in the media.
Chief Executive Officer of National Maritime and Safety Authority (NMSA), Captain Nurur Rahman, had indicated the ship was overloaded adding that its certificate allowed for only 310 passengers.
Rabaul Shipping initially advised there were 350 passengers and 12 crew members on board but survivors are now testifying that there were hundreds more on board that fateful voyage.
NMSA has also advised the total number of passengers is sketchy because there was no proper manifest from Buka, Rabaul and Kimbe as many passengers bought their tickets at the wharf.
Many survivors have confirmed this information and have questioned media reports that there were 350 passengers’ destined for Lae when the ship sank.
A story published on Facebook by a relative of a survivor says: ““From my younger brother, who was on board MV Rabaul Queen when disaster struck. ‘There were actually 780 passengers on board - 420 from Rabaul/Kavieng /Buka and 360 from Kimbe. Mostly young children, mothers and students. There weren’t any emergency procedures or demonstrations when they got on the ship and the shipping agency didn’t limit passenger intakes’.”
The group consists primarily of unemployed youth and uses theatre as a tool to raise awareness in urban communities with high risks of HIV/AIDS, crime and drugs.
It held 42 performances in January in public areas, including at markets, bus stops and public neighbourhoods.
How does the audience react to the performances? “Some feel guilty, others are concerned, and most women learn that there is help out there to protect their basic human rights,” said Willie Doaemo, technical director of the group.
“Many men who didn’t realise violence against women was a crime punishable by law have spoken up and promised to stop beating their wives,” he added.
On the other hand, the artists themselves have gone through a learning process by reading the scripts and performing.
“Women are seen as inferior in our society, and this thinking has been passed on from generation to generation,” said Teddy Iwara, one of the actors. “Through the gender training, the rehearsals and the awareness performances, I am starting to respect and collaborate with my mother and sisters in our home.”
Mr Doaemo expects to reach almost 70% of the population in the Lae District through a total of 168 performances over four months, although the group faces challenging circumstances.
Lae was declared a conflict zone last November when ten people were killed, public gatherings were restricted, and people were afraid to leave their homes. But the group improvises to get the public’s attention: “We played loud music to bring the crowd out anyway,” Mr. Doaemo laughed.
The Seeds Theatre Group was established in 1997 by Sam Solomon Sommi, a theatre professional and trainer who saw the artistic talent of youth in the Lae settlements and started to provide training in drama, dance and music.
By using traditional performing arts as a strategy for education, the Seeds Theatre Group utilises the potential of young unemployed women and men, and at the same time raises awareness on the causes and consequences of domestic violence, sexual harassment in the workplace and bullying in schools.
THREE ARTISTS FROM Abelam and seven from Kwoma in the East Sepik have travelled to Brisbane to create new work based on the art found in ceremonial men’s houses in the province.
Last year, Ruth McDougall, Curator of Pacific Art, and Michael O’Sullivan, Exhibitions Manager, from the Queensland Art Gallery travelled to the East Sepik with Papua New Guinea-born architect Martin Fowler to research the ceremonial men’s houses created by Abelam and Kwoma artists.
This research forms part of the development of a major project at the Gallery which explores ideas of the ‘ephemeral’ in contemporary art created in PNG.
Along with the mask cultures of New Britain and the contemporary art of Asmat artists in Papua, the East Sepik structures were chosen because of their powerful visual impact, the continuing strength of kastom and the structures’ ephemeral nature.
McDougall, O’Sullivan and Fowler visited villages in the areas surrounding Maprik and travelled up the Sepik River to Tongwinjamb, Mino and Yessan to view men’s houses and meet with artists and community leaders.
During this travel, groups of Kwoma, Abelam and Arapesh artists also participated in an art workshop based at the Ilahita guesthouse, with materials supplied by the Queensland Art Gallery.
As a result of these visits, two projects were identified as major commissions for the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane as part of the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art exhibition.
For nine of the ten artists, this project represents their first opportunity for international travel. They will live in Brisbane for six to eight weeks and will have a dedicated workshop for carving and painting.
BY EILEEN GOODWIN
Otago Daily Times
Dr Gunn, senior curator of Pacific Art at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, has returned to his hometown of Dunedin to spend a fortnight at Otago Museum.
He is examining and helping improve documentation of the museum's collection of Malagan art from New Ireland. The museum has more than 300 pieces of Malagan art.
Malagan art is known for ritual sculptures which illustrate a person's life after their death. Dr Gunn said the death sculpture concept was hard for Westerners to understand.
On several trips to the islands between the early 1980s and 2001, he sought to immerse himself in the culture.
His experiences shook up his beliefs, including those relating to the concepts of magic and sorcery, which were part of local culture.
"There is a lot we do not know ..."
Important cultural practices were very much alive when he first arrived. However, in recent years, life on the islands had changed, partly because of mining.
After a lengthy commemoration of the person's life, the ritual sculptures were destroyed, although sometimes they were sold to foreigners, which for the islanders was akin to destroying them.
The sculptures depicted the person's life force, and various aspects of their life.
Dr Gunn is impressed with one of Otago museum's sculptures' which dates from 1860-70.
The museum's collection also includes Malagan masks, mainly worn by young men and used in dramatic rituals.
The masks depict emotions and character in ways unknown in Western art and have a visual vocabulary which is unique, Dr Gunn said.
BY TONY HILLIER
UNIQUE IS AN OFT-MISUSED ADJECTIVE in this modern world, but in the case of the musical collaboration involving piano prodigy and composer Aaron Choulai [pictured], a Papua New Guinean choir from his ancestral village, some of Australia’s hottest young jazz soloists and visual elements, the word is truly applicable.
Choulai’s background is as exotic and intriguing as the project that he leads. The albino son of a Chinese/Motuan mother and Jewish/Polish/Australian father, he has plied his trade as an international jazzman of repute from Melbourne, New York and, currently, Tokyo over the past decade.
We Don’t Dance For No Reason [Ai Na Asi A Mavaru Kavamu] brings together the various cultural strands of his life, primarily the stunning Peroveta Anedia (prophet songs) vocal tradition that is part of his heritage.
“Everyone from the Papuan coastal regions and Motuan villages knows these songs,” he says, “although each village has their own interpretation.”
Polynesian missionaries brought with them choral music that bridged bible stories and traditional tribal music.
Working with the mixed gender Tatana Village Choir from his island birthplace near Port Moresby has afforded Choulai a much-appreciated chance to reconnect with a heritage that’s far removed from his lifestyle playing jazz in some of the world’s biggest cities.
“What I do professionally has nothing to do with who I feel I am culturally, so I felt like I had to keep putting on these different hats.” With We Don’t Dance For No Reason he has been able to combine the contrasting realms.
The plan for his unique multicultural, multimedia enterprise was hatched after a conversation with then piano teacher, mentor and now close friend Paul Grabowsky, one of Australia’s most respected jazzmen, when Choulai was still in his teens.
“I played him a tape of the choral music from PNG, and he seemed to be excited about it. A few years later, as the artistic director of the Queensland Music Festival, we talked about it again and with his guidance, we came up with the skeleton for the show.”
Invited to describe his hybrid in a nutshell, Choulai says: “It’s new music … modern Papuan art music, modern jazz … whatever you’d like to call it.”
He expands: “The musicians improvise solos based around harmonic structures and form, and sometimes are also required to improvise freely. The intent behind the music is to move forward, to find something new as musicians.”
The videos that accompany We Don’t Dance For No Reason, he says, provide a window into Motuan life.
“You get a brief history of Papua, insights into Motuan culture and some understanding of the social and political situation in PNG at the moment. But most importantly, hearing the choir, I’m sure audiences see how important the role of music is in Motuan societies and the pure joy it brings to the Motuans.”
When he started to compose the music, Choulai’s guiding principle was that if he stayed honest to what he was hearing it would naturally all fall into place. While he admits communication wasn’t always easy, he concedes he has been surprised in terms of how the villagers have taken to the idea of ‘art’.
“You have to understand that developing tradition, or pushing the boundaries of culture, does not come naturally to Motuans. I think before the village had a chance to hear the piece, people were a little suspicious of the project, but we did a large concert for everyone a few years ago at the arts theatre in Port Moresby, and since then, people seem to be understanding what I am trying to do, and generally support me.”
Source: World Music Central. The interview first appeared in Rhythms, Australia’s only dedicated roots music magazine, for which the author is World/Folk correspondent
I SPENT SIX YEARS in what was then ‘the Territory’, during which time I founded a choir, an orchestra, and the Port Moresby Junior Music School, which served both the indigenous and expatriate communities.
The choir and orchestra performed major choral works and, on one occasion, flew to Madang and performed Messiah in an old aircraft hangar. Jim Griffin, the noted academic whose obituary has appeared in PNG Attitude, was the tenor soloist.
The music school, supported by Director of Education Ken McKinnon and the Administrator's wife, Dulcie Johnston, provided a complete program of studies every Saturday morning. One of the children attending is now principal cellist with the Tasmanian Symphony orchestra.
The Port Moresby orchestra, augmented by musicians from the RPNGC (Police) Band accompanied the first performance of an opera in PNG - HMS Pinafore. Both cast and orchestra included local and expatriate members.