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14 October 2014


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Mathias Kin

Ende-ewa Kombuglo simply means the forbidden stone, it can also mean an extraordinary big stone, a stone unlike any other stone. This was because of the sheer size of the mountain.
As it is in all early societies around the world where primal religions are connected with things extraordinary,(very big, beep, too high, etc) the tribes around the great mountain believed their death relatives ascended this mountain.

When Joseph Miulge died, his people believed his spirits went up Ende-ewa Kombuglo to be with his father Bina and grandfather Miulge.

The name Ende-ewa Kombuglo will stick - I hope.

Phil Fitzpatrick

Gotta be careful though Chris.

Uluru is an adjective in Pitjantjatjara that means 'wounded or crippled'. In the case of Ayers Rock it's a wounded hare wallaby in a dreaming story.

The myth travels from the south-east and there are hundreds of big rock outcrops called 'uluru' along the way, especially in the Indulkana/Fregon area.

I imagine there's a story attached to Ende-ewa Kombuglo too.

Chris Overland

Otto Von Bismarck was a giant figure in German history and so it was quite a good political move by the colonists to name a distant mountain range in his honour, but I think naming PNG's tallest mountain after his son constitutes major league sucking up to the great man.

Surely the PNG government could rename the mountain "the Forbidden Stone". Not only does this sound a lot better but it would honour the traditions and history of the Simbu people as well.

Australia has progressively renamed many significant geographic features using words from the local Aboriginal dialect. Thus iconic Ayres Rock has become Uluru, the Bungle Bungles have become Purnululu and innumerable suburbs and streets now have splendid Aboriginal names.

I cannot see any reason why PNG needs to persist with names conferred by the colonial administration when suitable traditional names exist.

Mathias Kin

Ha Phil, sorry I didn't explain Ende-ewa Kombuglo. In the early eighteen century, unknown to the highlanders, the German colonialists saw these high peaks from the coast and named it the Bismarck Range in honour of Chancellor Bismarck and the tallest among them, Mt Wilhelm, in honour of the son.

In our Kuman language, Ende-ewa Kombuglo means "the Forbidden Stone". It is of course the highest peak in PNG at 4,509 meters high.

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

Mathias, yalwai, enjoyed this one about Kombani.

May the Mitnande people continue to venture out and melt into the bigger global society and contribute in all spheres.

Arnold Mundua

A great man he was, bro.

I first saw him and learned of his name when he delivered his Independence speech as President of the Mt Wilhelm LLG Council from the grandstand to a packed crowd at Gembogl station on 16 September 1975.

I was a kid then, but the memory never disappeared.

Wherever we crossed paths, we'd chat for while before heading in our separate directions.

He truly was a pioneer, chief and a great leader in the Upper Simbu.

Your article is a fitting tribute to this great man.

Chris Overland

A great story Mathias about an interesting man.

His reference to seeing a plane for the first time reminds me that my own grandfather never saw a plane until he was in France during the First World War, circa 1916.

I imagine Grandpa felt much the same amazement as Joseph Miulge.

At that time many Australians were only marginally more exposed to modern technologies than the Simbu.

Now, of course, we take technologies of various sorts for granted even though we rarely know how and why they work.

The Simbu were not being irrational in assuming planes were magic because, in many respects, they are just that.

Surprisingly few people know enough basic physics to explain how planes fly, let alone how their internal componentry works.

As for our smart phones and the computer upon which I am writing, they work thanks to an understanding of quantum mechanics, which is a scientific discipline that relies upon understanding the truly magical world of sub-atomic particles.

Max Planck, the founder of this branch of science, once said that if you did not find the basic rules of quantum mechanics deeply disturbing you clearly hadn't understood it.

I hope you can collect more stories like that of Joseph Miulge, because they help shed more light not just on the Simbu but on the broader human experience of life in an age of magical technologies and perpetual change.

Phil Fitzpatrick

You'd better explain Ende-ewa Kombuglo for us non-Simbus Mathias.

These stories are precious for future generations. Going through the Ku High School Anthology it's apparent that a lot of students are picking up traditional stories from their parents and others. This is great.

There seems to be two strains to PNG history: that told by expatriates, as in the memoirs of the kiaps (why aren't the teachers etc. writing memoirs too?); and the sorts of stories you are collecting.

Together they make a coherent narrative that is nicely balanced. There needs to be much more of it.

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