Two women are the first female canoe coordinators in the male dominated National Canoe and Drum Festival next week in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Some of you may think this is “not a big deal” but it is. Nellie George ( left) is organizing five sailaus or traditional canoes from the South Duau area of Esa’ala District and Vicky Lodi will lead in organising bogama canoes from the Maramatana area of Alotau District.
This part of PNG culture is sacred to men. Canoes and drums are used mostly by males in the Melanesian societies. Although it is dominated by males, we do have some females using drums in other parts of the PNG. From the start canoes especially are prepared by men. Men choose the tree, carve and design the canoe. The canoes can be used by the whole family when it is completed.
The festival is an annual event that happens every first weekend of November in the sleepy seaside township of Alotau. This festival is the southern region’s major event of the year and showcases the coastal communities’ way of life particularly through traditional sailing canoes. Kundu (traditional drums) have been included in this year’s festival.
To visit the festival and see other information, contact the PNG Office of Tourism and Culture.