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The tribe that promised peace; & would kill to keep its word

BEN JACKSON

The KomKui'The KomKui Who Made a Covenant with God' by Brother Pat Howley FMS, The DWU Press, dwupress@dswu.ac.pg, ISBN978-9980-9932-5-0

THE KOMKUI IS A RELATIVELY NEW TRIBE, formed in 1980 from the coming together of the of two Mokei tribes (the Komunka and the Kwipi) of the Mt Hagen region.

Both were descendants of the Melpa people who have lived in the Highlands for tens of thousands of years.

The amalgamation was a result of a push to end ancient grudges that existed amongst the Mokei causing continuing tribal tensions in the region.

While the original source of the angst had been long forgotten, the feeling and hatred passed down the generations resulted in sporadic incidents of fatal violence.

When the Covenant with God referred to in the title was agreed in 1980, the KomKui promised to never fight again.

The KomKui Who Made a Covenant with God was compiled to capture the history of the tribe and the Melpa language group from which they descend.

Through colonial diaries, anthropological evidence and cross-checked accounts, the book systematically examines the history of the tribe: ancient cultural practices, agricultural advancements and tribal splits; the arrival of the white man and the colonial era; Christianity; and tribal warfare.

Then there is the formation of the KomKui, the role religion played in this, some dubious business decisions, finally, the success of the tribe.

When author Brother Pat Howley began to write The KomKui, it soon became apparent that two of the figures central to the formation and continuity of the tribe were Pius Tikili and Andrew Dokta.

Tikili is a highly educated KomKui businessman who brought western capitalism to the tribe. While there were hiccups along the way but much of the stability of the KomKui today can be attributed to sound business investments.

Dokta is a charismatic musician, magistrate and Christian leader who drove the amalgamation of the tribes and the simultaneous commitment to peace.

Dokta can also be credited for addressing many social issues along the way, including sub-standard housing, raskol gangs, tribal grudges and community pride.

The two men present as similar characters in many ways - their incredible drive, self-confidence and belief that the ends justify the means.

But despite these similarities, their ideological differences created a long term rivalry between Tikili and Dokta.

Howley, in an attempt to free The KomKui of personal agendas, gives a balanced account of the achievements and shortcomings of both men.

When the book was made available to him in draft form, this approach satisfied Tikili.

However Dokta was unhappy about the inclusion of Tikili per se and demanded that The KomKui be rewritten entirely about himself.

In fact Dokta was so dissatisfied that he threatened the life of one of Howley’s associates when he was distributing free copies of the book.

This behaviour may seem surprising coming from a man who drove the KomKui to agreeing a Covenant with God to never fight again, however Dokta was no stranger to using his power to get his own way.

In the late 1970s Dokta had ordered his young followers to find older tribespeople still participating in traditional spiritual practices and order them to stop or be fined.

Dokta went further, using his power as a magistrate to threaten conviction to any member of the tribe who was not baptised and committed to a Christian god.

The paradox of the rivalry between Tikili and Dokta is that the KomKui needed the drive of both men to succeed in maintaining peace while the two men at the heart of this ultimately successful transformation couldn’t manage it themselves.

Pat Howley and his team of researchers have done a great service (albeit presently under-appreciated) with the publication of The KomKui by recording the tribe’s 25,000 year history. It was a story that was on the verge of being forgotten forever.

The KomKui has appeal on an historical level in its factual sections on both ancient practices and colonial times.

However readers will also derive a strong emotional draw from anecdotes of squabbles that escalated to tribal wars and the men who did so much to end them.

Comments

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Elizabeth Dumu

Wow! I enjoyed my almost two months data collection in late 2014 with the KomKui people, namely Pastor John Bakri and Councillor John Nor.

This was what I had to say about the place and people, "I have seen true Hageners and how well they keep their land".

And, little did I know that 'The KomKui' was written. I am looking forward to a good read.

Thank you, for capturing these great people's history, Brother Pat Howley!

Elizah Bob Kerowa

On behalf of all the young vibrant komkuis and the future generation of this great community, I would like to take this time and opportunity to sincerely thank and express our gratitude to Br Pat and team for their tireless effort in compiling this great book about the history of this great community.

It is indeed a living testimony that will remain in us forever and the history will pass on as a legacy to the next generation to come.

It wouldn't have been achieved without the support of these great honourable people like Chief Andrew Dokta and Pius Tikili together with the founding fathers (the greatest warriors in history).

Once again, thank you all for your tireless effort in impacting and bring the community to this far. I salute you all, our founding fathers, because you are the foundation rock of this blessed community. You will be rewarded one day for your great efforts in the transformation of our lives.

I'm feeling honoured and blessed to be Komkui. Angmam oh nanga andakua kilk, eman pora numan ngund.

Amos Paraka Wup

Thank you Br Pat for the tireless effort for compiling this special book about two tribes ( Komonaka and Kwipi)Komkui.This book potrays indepth meaning of peace that was exhabited by this above tribe for the other 800 tribes of Papua New Guinea to follow. As a proud son of Komkui tribe,I salute you for the job well done. Ange mum....... by Amos Paraka Wup

Isaac Jordan Ruimb

Brother Pat, on be half of the younger generations of Komkui, I would like to thank you and your team for a job well done to document in paper the history of the communit and what our grand fathers did to maintain peace amongs their neighbouring tribes and in making a covenant with God to put God first in everything and do away with enimity and hatred feelings with other waring tribes. Truely, without the Catholic Church it would not have eventuated, thankyou so much to God and the Catholic church leaders at that time namely Fr. William Ross and his associates, for officiating this historic program in 1980, which will impact generations to come

Sedrick Moka

Firstly I would like to congratulate Brother Pat Howley and his associates for spending their precious time and tireless efforts in drafting the tribes' history and eventually printing it in black and white.

Secondly, and most importantly, I salute the Moke Komunka and Moke Kwipi tribes under the leadership of these two great leaders Pius Tikili and Andrew Dokta for coming together and settling their differences and making this important covernant with God.

It was this covenant that brought huge blessings into your God fearing community, like the six storey building in the heart of Mt Hagen bearing the tribes own name 'Komkui Building'.

The community is going to see great blessings from the Lord if only it continues to abide with the Lord and the covenant that it has made.

Samuel Roth

The book is among the few on tribes, history and socio-economic transformation of the Western Highlands Province.

Cheers, Br Pat! As being part of the research team, I am proud of its publication.

The tang and bun lunch in Mt Hagen, the fun with all the oldies of KomKui and most importantly, I had to drive you carefully from Madang to Hagen ensuring that no bones rattle for a 82+ yo.

Yes, you have lived on to see this book as I watched on. I shall continue to read more....

Bravo, Br Pat!

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