Archive for the month “July, 2014”

Where’s Cubby Broccoli When You Need Him?



Tok Pisin Word of the Week – ‘bilong’

Well, I hope you have all done your homework from last week and we now are all fully conversant with the word ‘long’. There will be a test at the end of the lesson.

My lesson objective for today is that by the end of the lesson:

  • All of the class will have mastered the word ‘bilong’.
  • Some of the class will be able to use it in their everyday conversation and
  • The boys at the back of the class will have worked out which day of the week it is.

So, sit up straight, stop talking and face the front.

‘bilong’ is a very useful word and can be used in the following ways:

  1. To show possession:

e.g.        ‘Em i kar bliong mi.’ = That is my car

‘Em i buk bilong pikinini.’ = That’s the child’s book.

To show place of origin:

e.g.        ‘Mi bilong Papua Nuigini’ = I am from Papua New Guinea

To show characteristics of people:

e.g.        ‘Em i meri bilong wok’ = She is a workaholic.

‘Em i man bilong toktok’ = He is a chatty/talkative man.

To show the purpose of certain things:

e.g.        ‘Em i pen bilong rait.’ = This pen is for writing.

‘Em i buk bilong rit.’ = This book is for reading

To show the reason for doing something: (Note: ‘dispel’ = this)

e.g.        ‘Em no kam, na bilong dispela mi kros.’ =

He didn’t come and so (on account of this) I am angry.

‘Mi no kaikai, na bilong dispela mi hangre’   =   I haven’t eaten and therefore I’m hungry.

Now, if you haven’t learned this by next week, I will be ‘man bilong kros,’ and you wouldn’t want that, would you?

I really should give you a written exercise, ( an ‘eksasais bilong rait’), at this point, but I am afraid of losing readers, so I will resist the temptation. I’ll wait until the end-of-term exam.

Gratuitous ‘Aaah’ Picture from the South Pacific


Saturday Night at DWU

Last night was a bit strange. It was Barramundi Night at the University, an evening of information, speeches and dance, celebrating the cultural diversity of Fly River District in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea.

Divine Word University draws its students from all over this incredibly culturally diverse country. When they get here, the students form themselves into societies that reflect the cultural heritage of their respective regions.

Every year, each society organizes a cultural night that showcases their local traditions, festivals and dances. Last night was the turn of Fly River.

We were given an unending series of PowerPoint presentations that told us exactly how many sub-districts there were in southern Fly River, central Fly River and northern Fly River District and how many sub-sub-districts there were in each sub-district. We were told the total population of the district (as of the 2002 census!), names of the local MPs, a list of the towns in the district and what mineral resources were being extracted and from where. We were even told about the local tourist attractions that await any intrepid tourists who can overcome the fear of insecurity, the lack of roads and paucity of accommodation and health facilities to come and visit the area.

The evening was scheduled to start at 6.30pm. I have no idea why this time appeared on the posters, since the students’ dinner-time is 6.00pm – 7.00pm, so the chances of anyone being there at 6.30pm are pretty slim. We arrived at 7.15. Oh the naivety of it! Will we never learn? The evening actually started around 8.00pm.

The PowerPoint presentations were both numerous, superfluous and tedious. There is nothing worse than being confronted with a PowerPoint slide with hundreds of words on it and then having the presenter read every word, assuming, presumably, that the audience cannot read. Actually, there is something worse than that. Being presented with six PowerPoint presentations of a similar ilk.

Then came the speeches! Oh Lord, the speeches! There is a real need here for basic training in public speaking. The old adage that the hallmark of a good public speaker is someone who can ‘stand up, speak up, hurry up and shut up’, is not understood here at all. Having control of the microphone seems to be a signal that you can drone on about whatever is in your head for as long as you like, until you decide that your head is now empty of information, so it is time to sit down.

But then, every so often, there would be a dance item, based on traditional Fly River dances. The students, who spend their normal working days wandering around in jeans and t-shirts suddenly burst onto the stage dressed in grass skirts, (both men and women), ornate head-dresses made out of palm leaves and other ornate vegetation and with their faces painted in all sorts of weird and wonderful designs.

What the performances lacked in polish and professionalism, they more than made up for in raw energy, vitality and colour.

I have seen traditional dancing in tourist hotels in Africa and often it is toe-curlingly naff. It is something that has little to do with real life in modern Africa but is served up to entertain fee-paying tourists. I always have this mental image of the ‘traditional dancers’ changing out of their leopard skins and bone earrings, putting on their suits or company uniforms and going back to their jobs in insurance offices or advertising agencies or at supermarket check-outs, leaving the tourists thinking that they have had a glimpse of the real Africa.

I suppose, in a sense, it’s a win-win situation. The tourists go away happy thinking they have witnessed something authentic and the dancers earn some cash, but is sometimes seems a bit artificial.

Last night was different, however. These young people were performing dances that represented their home areas and which are an important part of their annual cultural calendar. They were expressing their cultural identity for the benefit of their fellow students from other parts of PNG. They were performing dances that they would have performed at the annual cultural festivals, or ‘sing-sings’, in their home areas, where there would certainly be very few, if any, tourists. Last night, there were only about eight non-Papua New Guineans in the whole auditorium. Linda and I were two of hem.

Some of the dancers, particularly the men, were very fierce and warlike, reminding us of the ‘Haka’ that the New Zealand Rugby team always uses to intimidate its opponents before a match. And some of the mixed dances were ‘raunchy’ to say the least. The effect of a few, well placed, pelvic thrusts on an audience of Papua New Guinean students – even at the Divine Word University – has to be seen to be believed!

Great fun!  Can’t wait for the Bougainville students to do their Cultural Night.  Apparently they are amazing drummers, so it should be quite a night. 

 I must see if I can sabotage the data projector and lose the microphone before the evening starts.

Thank You, Rain Gods.


After weeks of toying with us, the rain gods finally delivered last night.


In the space of two hours, about 6000 litres of fresh, clean water was collected off our roof and deposited into our tank.

Phew!  Now we can flush the toilet any time the mood takes us!


Happy Birthday, Blog.

My blog is two years old this month.

Over the past year, there have been 18,956 views, and 456 comments.

The 784 separate ‘posts’ have been followed by a faithful readership of 43 people, 28 of whom pressed the “Notify me by email’ button.

As you can see, the WordPress statistics monkeys keep me well supplied with information.  They even tell me in which country readers are located.  This gives me hours of entertainment wondering who I know in Cambodia or Pakistan or Poland.  One mystery was solved yesterday when I got an email telling me that one reader was visiting family in Thailand, but who do I know in Australia, or the United States or indeed in Mongolia?

I really enjoy writing the blog and documenting these extraordinary years.  But it’s also great to know that a whole group of people find it interesting enough to follow on a regular basis.  Thank you to all of you who are still there after all this time, and particularly to those who send comments.  It’s always fascinating to see which posts get a reaction.

Today we are giving a talk to our Papua New Guinean colleagues about our sixteen months in South Sudan.  Sorting out the photos for the Powerpoint presentation was a real trip down Memory Lane.  Hope they like it!



Two Little Boys, One Big Ocean

P1120832Children in this part of Papua New Guinea grow up fast and learn how to handle boats with great ease.

The Big Blue.

They say that there

They say that there are between 20,000 and 30,000 islands in the Pacific, most of the uninhabited.  Apparently the Ocean is so big that you could put all of the land masses in the world into the Pacific and still have enough room for an extra Africa.






Another Fine Face


Contender for Fine Face of the Year Award.


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