On September 16 to be exact, as it is the date the Australian flag was lowered and the new PNG flag hoisted on Independence Hill, Waigani in 1975.
Port Moresby’s Hiri Moale is a major drawcard here in the National Capital. Some shopping centres encourage their staff to go to work in their traditional dress and it was lovely to see Boroko Foodworld was no exception. In provincial towns, other festivities and activities marked the occasion.
With a front seat view, I watched with awe and admiration the colour and exuberance of the performances beginning with the Asaro Mud boys, the newly created province of Jiwaka through to Milne Bay, New Guinea Islands groups, Momase, Oro, ending with the bamboo band of Autonomous Bougainville region and the thrilling “garamut” beats of Manus. The PNG children danced side by side with their European, Asian and African counterparts reinforcing their theme – Our Style, Our Way.
Despite the heat & dust, not uncommon for this time of the year, the enthusiasm of students and children as young as seven years old, could not go unnoticed. Their families and wantoks had strived for 5 weeks to collate and prepare traditional costumes to make the performances authentic. Teaching, showing skills and passing on knowledge in this way is part of the student’s learning curve and many parents and teachers get into the swing of things ensuring their child (ren) are appropriately dressed for the occasion.
The challenge for families usually is finding the right leaves or plants in Port Moresby & having the proper finery (shell necklaces, pigs teeth, dog’s teeth necklaces, Bird of Paradise feathers) to complete the attire for a child to look outstanding.
I guess, at the end of the show, what matters most is whether the child enjoyed himself or herself.
But what are we really celebrating or marking on this 34th Independence Anniversary? A friend asked me this question when we went out to lunch yesterday.
Hope. Hope for a brighter future. That is what I saw when I witnessed the Korobosea International children perform with gusto. As I watched my niece Didi sway and swing her tapa cloak to the rhythmic drumbeat, I knew her confidence would surely see her generation forge their way forward to their own drumbeat - their Own Way.