Favourite titles

Favourite titles
Whether it is "Redefining literary techniques and devices", "Justifying Papua New Guinea Literature", or "Translating the Bible into Anuki", these offer valuable reading for the paperless student of literature, and indeed the best sort of literary entertainment you can get out of Papua New Guinea. Check them out either on Soaba's Storyboard or The Anuki Country Press.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

OndoBondo Revived

There comes a time when a nation pauses in the general course of its development to reflect. It does so to ask several questions, among them: “Was it worth it? Have we done well or ill? Where do we go from here?”

Yet no matter how reflective we feel about ourselves as a nation we cannot help but go back to those times when everything around us was full of life and colour. Those were the moments of our fancy: a festival, for example; gestures recalled; food shared; and words exchanged as lasting memories. And always, all that comes to us in the form of poetry, song and dance.
One such moment of fancy is the OndoBondo, a feast observed by the people of Binandere as much as any other in the Oro Province.

On Saturday 16th July the Oro Students Association of the University of Papua New Guinea had their OndoBondo at the University’s Drill Hall. There were eight districts in all who were involved in this feast, among them Kokoda, Sohe or Ioma, the Ewage areas extending from Oro Bay to Ambasi and Mamba, Tufi, Central Kaiva, Bokoro, and Afore. One of these districts, possibly the Central Kaiva, stepped out and did what was true to reputation for them all by performing the famous butterfly dance – a dance in which one witnesses the splendour of the giant butterfly in flight enacted by the outstretched spread of the tapa cloth, the eternal regalia of the whole province.
The butterfly dance is commonly performed by those from Ako in the south coast to Ambasi and Manau in the north coast of the Oro Province, and occasionally by those of the Bokoro and Central Kaiva areas. Watching such a dance certainly reminds one of James St Nativeson’s poetry:

But I shall return to tradition
When I have died me that alien death
And for our reunion I’ll bark you
A laplap of tapa designs and cry:
Oro da, oro! Oro kaiva!

The initiative taken nowadays by various student associations and societies at UPNG is to bring PNG cultures closer to the doorsteps of academic environment so that this becomes part of the spiritual wellbeing of the student population itself. Some weeks earlier a similar feast was held at the same location by the students from the Autonomous Bougainville Government and that was well received by city residents. And there will be more such feasts to come.

The OndoBondo of 16th July was observed not only by the students themselves but also by participants coming from the villages and church, women and youth groups of Oro Province itself. The result was an authentic traditional feast performed much to the satisfaction of many.

President of the Oro Students Association, Donald Moi, and his Vice-President, Sandra Kwafen, felt that the feast should be given its traditional appeal. And well that the occasion should be that way since also present at this bondo were a few of the old timers from UPNG itself who lamented not having done better in their own time.
A student called Henry Hataya of Kupiano and Oro parentage did the honours of soliciting and providing food from his Kupiano village for the entire feast. A pig was bought from 14-Mile for the occasion and this along with the food from Gavone was distributed among the participating tribes and clans of the Oro Province. It was an occasion indeed when the young of the city led by their UPNG peers came away from the hypnotizing influences of gadgets like ear pieces and cell phones to participate fully in a traditional gathering. A good number of the young got themselves painted up, wore the traditional tapa regalia, picked up the kundu drums and joined in.
The word OndoBondo itself has its significance deeply rooted in the history of the University of Papua New Guinea. In the late 70s and early 80s it succeeded Kovave as an internationally recognized literary journal, run by the then Literature Department.  More importantly the journal represented the post-Ulli Beier albeit neo-colonial literary era of the country. Works represented in that journal were new, authentically Papua New Guinean. The journal proved its worth as an aftermath of the experimental “new writings” that rapidly emerged to global recognition. Then the journal changed form over the next decades becoming known as the PNG Writer briefly, and then later, with a certain degree of permanency about it, the Savannah Flames. But in the pre-electronic media days, these were the journals that overseas subscribers looked out for in the hunt of substantial research material in creative writing and literary studies.

OndoBondo also branched out in its literary publication program and took other forms of literary genre as well, such as the famous OndoBondo poster poem series which would within weeks of production sell as fast as hot cakes throughout the world. The poster poems became a better and easier format of literary production through which PNG literature was made readily available not only in PNG but elsewhere as well. It also, spiritually speaking, brought hope and encouragement to those who found themselves abroad and studying at foreign universities. In the mid-80s, for example, a strayed OndoBondo poster poem somehow found its way to Brussels where, it was learned, a Papua New Guinean read it and broke into tears. The poem at least brought him closer to home.
But the point that storyboard is getting at here is how quickly the present generation of young scholars have taken up the sacred essence and meaning of the word OndoBondo or simply bondo. The word signifies the human mood of festivity. But that mood of festivity, looked at closely in its philosophical context, denotes the feast of thinking. We speak of OndoBondo in intellectual terms as we would trudge through countless forests of human wonder and mystery in search of a clearing – wherewithal a certain celebration must ensue. And we must celebrate because we see that we have arrived at that clearing. Now if we read the Preface of Kwamra we will get closer to seeing what this means. The pursuit of education and in indeed the quest of knowledge simply means walking through forest in search of a clearing. After we have completed that degree, yes sir, it means we have arrived at the clearing.
       When we know we have arrived we must hold the OndoBondo feast. Oro kaiva!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Wings of Hope

By Jeffrey Febi

PNG’s rural areas are the forgotten lands; where lack of government’s presence and the consequent high illiteracy, and high maternal and infant mortality is a tragedy.

In such places, where many only hear exaggerated stories of the outside world and then conjure up mental pictures to charm their imaginations, there’s only one way out to the world they dream of. This is the way of the metal birds.
They come in different shapes and sizes; they are the sounds of technology and the wings of hope that grace the skies of remote rural PNG. They are the birds of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), Seventh Day Adventist Aviation (SDA), and Airlines PNG to name a few.

These birds are the wings of hope for the very ill; they are the transporters of coffee bags; they are the only connection through which a glimpse of the outside world is manifested.
For decades, through thick and thin they have served remote rural PNG faithfully. Many who have piloted these birds over rugged terrains and into deep valleys are brave men indeed. Some have lost their lives while others continue, not because there’s a fortune to be made but because their hearts are burdened by the tragedy they witness.
The poem below celebrates these wings of hope and the men who fly them over PNG’s rugged terrain

Wings of hope

On their gentle wings,

Women and children fly.

And sickman eventually finds

Peace, healing and more.

O how they grace the skies,

And hope they bring to many

A forgotten soul who, under

Cloud cover and thick jungles

Speak of dreams of hope.

And gather in enthusiastic crowds,

With smiles the sun and the moon,

Can only hope for in their brightest.

Then their dreams fly,

Into clouds to sing to others who

Can hear and let their hearts beat.

To a disharmony that pervades

Many a fine land on cruel ridges,

In deep valleys and on lonely islands,

Where the sun and the moon

Mock day and night.

O these birds, sounds of technology

That grace our skies thru thick and thin;

Aren’t they our wings of hope?
Thousands have benefited and thousands more will benefit. Let us all together thank them for the things they have done. Thank you Wings of Hope

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A journey to Port Moresby

By storyboard guest writer, Smith Irogi.
Months of strenuous fund raising in our humble surrounds of Bogaboga, Milne Bay Province, saw our group of 19 Christian adventurers ready at last to travel to Port Moresby. It was 5 am, Friday, 24th June.

The sea was calm and the wind still.

There were heard footsteps hurrying about as we loaded our gear onto two community dinghies that we’d hired and which were moored along the white sandy beach of our beautiful village. Then the 19 of us, 10 men and 9 women, boarded the dinghies and slipped into the open sea, shattering the silence of the morning with 40hp engines.
The journey across Goodenough Bay to Awaiama was long and tedious as the sea was exceptionally calm and of deepest blue. A few of us dozed off. Some 4 hours later we landed at Awaiama, a greyish and lonesome looking stretch of coastline compared to Bogaboga.

Half an hour later we boarded a PMV and travelled another 4 hours or so along a dirt road of pebbles and stones toward Alotau, arriving there at 1.00 pm.

Saturday next day, 25th June, saw our group unable to meet the cost of travel to Port Moresby on a Starship. By 3.00 pm, however, our leader secured a PMV which took us on some more dirt road but closer to the famous Magi Highway.

Landscape on this part of our journey began taking different forms, hour by hour. New places came into view, strange landmarks seen and familiar historical spots recalled and seen in actuality. Once, we were told we were at Nube only to learn we were at a place called Borai. The next day, Sunday 26th, we reached Nube itself.

By Monday, 27th June, we are scrambling for dinghies to take us to Kapari. Due to rough weather we use up 8 hours to travel from Nube to Kapari. And in that process my phone slips into the ocean, else I’d provide you some digital photos of some of the beautiful places we have seen.
Nonetheless it is 7.30 am, Tuesday 28th, and we are leaving Kapari for Port Moresby, stopping briefly at Kwikila around noon for some biscuits and lolly water from a trade store, then onwards to the city; for some of us, a sight indeed from Erima, 5Mile, Boroko and Tokarara to behold for the first time. A few of the women huddle up closer to us men because of the strangeness of the city.
We are here the 19 of us to sing songs of praise and worship. A few parishes of our own (Anglican) along with other Church denominations have invited us to sing and worship with them. Wherever we go and sing our hosts feel the power of God’s love with us.
We sing mostly in Are, our mother tongue. It is the first language in Papua New Guinea that the entire Bible was translated into in 1904.       
Oro dancers joining in with the Bogaboga fellowship group at St Paul's 9-Mile church festivities.

The St Paul's parish at 9-Mile became the first host of this Bogaboga fellowship group, when opening its Brian Bell funded new church building on July 3rd. The Right Reverend Peter Ramsden, Bishop of the Port Moresby diocese opened and blessed the new church building.

Friday, 8 July 2011

The learner: more on trilingual experiments

Two women at the Waigani Campus, Ruth Kamasungua and Irene Kawakami Gashu, think they have come up with a brilliant idea in creative writing that our readers might be interested in.

It is to present a volume of poetry, almost in the Papua Pocket Poets fashion that will contain three languages: English, Tok Pisin and Argentinean Spanish. Ruth Kamasungua is the poet while Irene Kawakami Gashu does the translations into Spanish.

Storyboard has so far experimented through the blogs with a couple of these poems and they were well received. The first poem is “The Learner” and if one wishes to see how that looks like in this tri-lingual experiment then the following would be it.

The Learner

Tall, short, thin, fat
Young and old
They come in all sizes and shapes
They swarm this place
In the sea of busybodies

Books, books, books
They bury their heads
In the quick sand
Of knowledge
With great determination
Their thirst never quenched
Nor does knowledge ever ends

Then of course you have your Tok Pisin translation of the poem which looks like this:

Man i kisim save

Longpela, sotpela, bunatin na fetpela
Yangpela na lapun
Ol i kam long kainkain seip
Ol pulimapim dispel ples olsem bi

Buk buk buk
Ol I painim het bilong ol
Long wasan
Bilong kisim save
Wantaim strogplea tingting
Hangere long dringim dispel wara bilong save
Ino save pinis
Na save tu ino save pinis

The Spanish (Argentina) version of the same poem runs as follows:

El Estudiante

Alto, bajo, delgado, gordo
Joven y viejo
Vienen en todo tipo de tamaños y formas
Arrebozan este lugar
En el mar de ocupación

Libros, libros, libros
Sumergen sus cabezas
En la arena movediza
Del conocimiento
Con gran determinación
Su sed no se apaga nunca
Ni el conocimiento termina

There are about twenty-five poems in this volume and such a tri-lingual printing of the poems would enable the book to run for some eighty pages including a preface and a glossary of words.

When asked what the purpose of this publication would be Ruth explained that it would be a worthy experiment and would deserve an audience in Papua New Guinea. We have so much influx of linguistic tourism going on in our country we quite overlook the literacy potential such publications can have. Our Tok Pisin literature proves by far the most popular in the tourism world and translations such as this where three or more languages are involved would help a lot in boosting our sentiments of literacy and better explanations of ourselves to other cultures. Of course by that both Ruth and Irene would recommend usages of not only English, Tok Pisin and Spanish (Argentina) but other languages as well.

The other side of the coin would be that in the case of Ruth and Irene one would be looking at a certain amount of linguistic experience there enough to see. For example, with those wishing to know more about the Argentinean version of the Spanish language, one need not look far as Irene would always be there to help. That of course would mean having to learn and use other languages in the world as well.

Ruth and Irene’s book of tri-lingual poetry is currently in its workshop format. A title will be thought up and rumour has it that a publisher is already thinking of the possibility of printing the book.