Archive for the month “July, 2015”

Don’t you just love this language?

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Madang Festival — Episode 10

Well, I had to round it off, didn’t I?

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One man and his boy having a good day out.

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Time to go home!

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P.S. Forgot to mention:  the man in the photo above works for the Papua New Guinea Ports Authority, but he is happy to don traditional costume to celebrate the Madang Festival.  He’ll probably be back in his suit tomorrow!

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Madang Festival – Episode 9

OK, so I lied in Episode 8.  I forgot to mention that the Asaro Mudmen also made an appearance.  Faithful followers of this blog may remember that the Mudmen turned up at the Divine Word University Cultural Day last August.  If you click on the link for August 2014 on the right hand side of this entry, you will be rewarded with a number of scary pictures and a history of the Mudmen.

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Although everyone knew that these were just ordinary men dressed up as evil spirits, the crowd still moved away from them pretty sharply, whenever they came near!

It can be a bit tiring being an Asaro Mudman in these temperatures.

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One interesting innovation this year was a stall where a craftsman was selling Asaro Mudmen memorabilia.  You could get full sized masks for 300 kina (about $120) or little hand-sized ones for 20 kina (about $8).  We didn’t see this last year, and it may be a sign that a tourist industry is starting to evolve here.

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This is the man who was selling them.  Note the woollen hat, (the temperature was well over 30 degrees centigrade) and the fine Highland face. (It gets very cold in the Highlands!)

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Madang Festival – Episode 8

This will be the last blog entry on this year’s Festival, partly because last week Linda and I took a week off and flew to east New Britain to see the famous Mask Festival, so I have a whole lot of new stories to tell.

But before that, so images to show the men’s contributions to the recent festivities.

Madang Festival Day 2 142   Here come the boys.

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All dressed up and nowhere to go!

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(Although you can’t see it from this picture, this head-dress is made up entirely from the heads of small green beetles.  No wonder that these head-dresses are priceless family heirlooms that get passed on from generation to generation.)

Madang Festival Day 2 035  You wouldn’t want to meet them on a dark night!

A lot of the men’s dances were stylised representations of actual combat.  Although the Festival passed off very peacefully and everyone had a good time, tribal fighting is not at all uncommon in Papua New Guinea. It doesn’t take much for fighting to break out, particularly, or so out Papua New Guinean colleagues tell us, if it is a matter of land or a situation involving  a woman.

Only last week, the local newspaper was reporting clashes in the Highlands between warring villages that had cost eleven lives and was still continuing.  The local police seemed unable to do anything to stop the conflict because the villages were too remote.  Interesting to note that the police couldn’t get in, but the story got out without any difficulty!

And the trouble with this kind of situation is that every death, or every serious injury sets up the call for ‘pay-back’, and so the cycle goes on.

Never a dull moment!

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And why this man felt the need to ‘black-up’, I have no idea.  It’s his festival.  He can do what he likes!

Well, it amused me!

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Madang Festival – Episode 7

The NGO angle.

The Festival, apart from being  a riot of colour and dancing, is also an opportunity for some of the NGOs to do a bit of profile building.  One such NGO was the Fred Hollows Foundation, an Australian Eye-care charity that I first came across when I worked for Sightsavers International in the UK.

The Foundation recently built an eye-care department at the local hospital and they rotate in a series of ophthalmologists from overseas, mainly Australia or New Zealand, who come and offer their services for six weeks at a time.  This means that in little Madang, state-of-the-art eye-care can be offered at little or no cost to the patients.  Not bad, eh?

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This was the float that Fred Hollows entered into the parade that kicked off the Festival.

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Never miss the opportunity to get your eyes tested!

VSO was also represented at the Festival, (apart from yours truly who appointed himself unofficial festival photographer!).

In Papua New Guinea, VSO has three legs to its programme, education, health and strengthening civil society.  A major focus throughout the programme is genderequity, in particular, the way in which women are disadvantaged with PNG society. The whole area of violence against women, is a major cause for concern in this country and several NGOs, both international and local, are helping the government to tackle it.

It was interesting to see, therefore, that VSO’s stall at the Festival was concentrating on the provision of condoms, for men and women.

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And there were plenty of people milling around looking to see what was new. (See umbrella-scape below)

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One of the most striking features of the Madang Festival was that it was a genuine local festival, not something artificially cobbled together to amuse tourists.  On the festival ground there must have been a couple of thousand people. If fifty of those had been expatriates or tourists, I would have been surprised.  It was a privilege to be part of the crowd.


Just in case you were wondering (2)


Papua New Guinea has won the overall medal tally for the XV Pacific Games that drew to a close last week. PNG scooped a total of 88 Gold medals, 66 Silver and 60 bronze with an overall total of 217 medals.

The French territory of New Caledonia came second with 59 gold medals, 50 silver and 56 bronze, a total of 167 medals.

Tahiti came third with 39 Gold medals, 34 silver and 40 bronze – 113 medals.

Fiji came fourth with 33 gold, 44 silver and 37 bronze, a total of 114 medals, but not so many golds.

Samoa in the fifth place with 17 golds, 23 silver and 11 bronze.

Australia were in sixth position and New Zealand, whose athletes refused to stay in the Athletes’ Village because they were not satisfied with the standard of the accommodation, and booked themselves into the local up-market hotel, came a satisfying 17th, behind countries  that most people have never heard of!

The next Pacific Games will be held in 2019 in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.

Didn’t we do well?

Yaaay! (Ed)

Now we just hope that the boost to national morale and self confidence, not to mention the new roads and sports facilities, will be worth the GBP 300.000.000 that the Games are reputed to have cost.

Madang Festival – Episode 6

One tired lady after a hot afternoon of dancing!

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So the next generation takes over…

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Even though the very young ones did look a bit bewildered after a while

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Even the younger generation needs an injection of energy from time to time.  Traditional dances that go back hundreds of years juxtaposed with a can of Pepsi!

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And so the traditions go on…

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Madang Festival – Episode 5

.. And after the Flower Show and the Snake dancing, the Sing-sing groups arrived.

madang festival 2015 123  madang festival 2015 129    madang festival 2015 132In full face paint…

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…and all their glory.

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Two pensioners

This is what Sunday afternoons were made for.

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