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In industrious Lae, the Morobe Show moves into its 60th year

Wampar village beauty (Jennifer Oliver)
The decorous people of Wampar village at the Morobe Show (Jennifer Oliver)

PETER S KINJAP

PORT MORESBY - If it was not for the war in the Pacific between 1942 and 1945, Papua New Guinea would be a different country in terms of tourism popularity.

But let me first go back to April 1883 when James Burns and Robert Philp decided their trading company Burns Philp would offer visits to New Guinea and, in 1884, advertised the ground-braking 'New Guinea Excursion Trip'.

This consisted of a five-week round trip from Thursday Island and was described as the "official beginning of tourist cruises in the South Pacific".

By 1914 Burns Philp’s tourism department acquired the Port Moresby Hotel and the Papua Hotel was purchased some years later.

Burns Philp continued its maritime passenger and tourism services until the outbreak of the World War II in the Pacific in 1942.

Culture-Fern-Man
Fern man and fern boy

During the war the British government commandeered some of the Burns Philp fleet. The company’s vessel, Macdui, was sunk in Port Moresby in 1942 where its rusted bones remain today.

When the war ended in 1945, it took many years to rejuvenate tourism. PNG’s cultural and agricultural shows played a big part in this and they included Lae’s Morobe Show, which began in 1959 and is now a celebrated annual event.

Like many other cultural happenings in PNG, the show brings with it a variety of cultural, commercial, horticultural, school, agricultural, floricultural, livestock and equine events, as well as general entertainment and amusement activities.

Held over three days it is Lae’s largest annual event and showcases happenings and achievements in the Morobe Province.

From ancient celebrations to modern day developments, these events provide an opportunity to understand the industrial heart of the nation.

Gourd man
Spectacular penis gourd man

Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu says the show displays what Morobe and PNG has to offer in terms of agriculture and culture.

“Morobe is an agriculture and culture-based society,” Saonu says. “We live off our land. Our ancestors have done this over thousands of years. We still are very much dependent on our land for survival.

“Morobe is the food bowl of Papua New Guinea and we need to harness our potential, work harder and add value to our land and culture.”

The show is hosted by the Morobe Provincial Agricultural Society. Visitors can expect to see stunning exhibitions of PNG culture, agriculture, horticulture, livestock, commercial business, churches, NGOs, and parades.

Bank South Pacific is a regular supporter, emphasising the role of and the small to medium sized enterprises which are vital in supporting the PNG economy. The bank shares information on products and services it offers including home loans, account opening, and mobile and internet banking registration.

Women of Buimo
The Jail Baggie women of Buimo

The bank’s area manager for the Momase Region, Dennis Lamus, says, “BSP has been proud to sponsor the Morobe Agricultural Show since 2010. It builds and strengthens our community and business relationships in the province.”

In a great initiative, last year’s show committee launched its ‘Jail Baggies’ project to assist the rehabilitation of women inmates at the province’s Buimo Jail.

Instead of plastic bags, environmentally friendly Jail Baggies are made from nylon and can be used as shopping or travel bags. They’re sold for just K20-30 at the show.

The 58th Morobe Agricultural Show starts on Saturday 5 October.

Peter Kinjap is a freelance writer and a blogger; email: pekinjap@gmail.com

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