via Mine pollution at Basamuk Bay… We warned about it 10 years ago
Please visit my wantok and colleague Scott Waide’s WordPress blog to read the story and watch his documentary “Uprooted”.
The documentary touches a particular personal situation in my own village, Wagang, in Lae, Papua New Guinea.
The PNG National Government is currently preparing for two major projects to go through our tiny village, Wagang ( also known as Siapia) in Lae Morobe Province. One of these projects is the proposed tailings (pipeline) from Wafi Golpu which will affect the six Ahe villages. My mother will lose part of her front yard at our family home to the main village road; expanded to cater for the development. If you read previous posts you will find stories about my village and our land.
Waide’s documentary gives a visual context of what is allowed into PNG and continues to happen at the cost of development by our own government. I hope “Uprooted” will be watched by those landowners that are affected, so they can speak up for what is theirs before it’s too late. I also hope those greedy ones in government, provincial government or landowners themselves that believe that they have the ultimate authority to sell out cultural and tribal land for a few bucks can see the devastation it can cause in the future. Land in Melanesia is an intangible heritage and belongs to all in the family and tribe. Noken lus tingting long ol tumbunabilong yupla. Graun ino samting nating.
*Remember your future generation. Land is not nothing.
Hi friends, here is another 500-word short story I submitted (for fun) to the Fast and Furious Fiction with Queensland Writers’ Centre (QWC) Please comment if you enjoy reading it. Why did I use this plot? I have been following the turn of events in the Papua New Guinea politics when this prompt came out in QWC’s challenge and having worked in a political office in my past life – I couldn’t help but come up with this approach. I hope you enjoy having a chuckle.
The challenge in May was: the first word must have eleven letters. The story must have the words, “maybe, dismay, mayor, mayonnaise, and mayhem and at some point in the story, someone or something must be running.
Accommodate. We were all advised at Mayor Bob Rhode’s campaign office last week that every volunteer must accommodate any challenges – to ensure our favourite candidate wins the elections.
I pulled a salmon blouse over my denim skirt. I had volunteered to assist with campaign administration. I heard a knock. It’s nine o’clock on Friday morning, May 3. From the bedroom, the street looked deserted. Josh my husband was in construction – he often left a tool or his hard hat behind and rushed home to get it. I picked up toys on my way to the front door.
Mayor Rhodes, 50, was a happily married father of two who built special swimming pools for disabled children. He recently extended Bellbowrie’s Bucher Park for the community to take refuge from the rain. Our community loved him.
I opened the door and was surprised.
“Good Morning Mayor.”
“Did Jessica tell you I was coming?” he asked smiling. “You seem surprised?”
“Maybe… Jessica forgot.” I stumbled. Jessica Simmons was his secretary.
“Can I come in?”
“Yes, of course,” I said and led him to the lounge. “What’s this about?” I asked.
I’m 25. My 30-year-old husband told me that I was naïve. “Honey, men look at those blue eyes, your gorgeous breasts, and slender legs, because they want you. Be careful!”
The mayor wore a red sports jacket, his campaign T-shirt and casual slacks. He said he wanted to discuss some strategies for the campaign.
“You are a perfect campaign leader – a smart, young, and beautiful mum. Voters respond to that,” he said.
“Would you like coffee?” I interrupted.
I left to put the kettle on. A blue sedan, not the mayor’s official car, was parked metres away from our entrance on 55 May St. I was anxious. Our five-year-old Jessica was at school. After being at home for five years, Josh had suggested last week I volunteer in the Mayor’s campaign and learn new skills.
I returned to the lounge with coffee and biscuits. Mayor Rhodes had removed his jacket.
On the coffee table, he laid papers and a bottle of mayonnaise. He pointed and said my campaign area were marked with pink highlights. He stared at me and paused.
“Do you like mayonnaise?” he asked softly.
I sat down with his coffee.
“Yes, I like mayonnaise, but what’s that got to do with the election?”
He took the coffee and set it down, then he leaned forward and touched my hands – he was so close, I pulled my hands away.
He quickly rose and unbuttoned his slacks.
“It won’t take much time,” and as he looked in my eyes he said, “you are so beautiful Daisy, I couldn’t stop thinking about you since you walked into my office last week.”
I gaped at him with dismay. All I could see was the headline, “MAYOR MAYHEM ON MAY ST.”
Suddenly, a car screeched to a halt outside; footsteps were running towards us.
A quick introduction to new followers on the blog and some who may not know that apart from my curatorial work and writing I’m a practicing artist. While I was away from the blog, I painted. My favourite medium is watercolour. I also draw with pencil and pen. If you follow me on Instagram (tribaldiva), then you have seen some of these work. Here are two recent paintings I completed as part of a weekly art challenge with a New Jersey artist friend, Akil Roper.
Most of my art from the 2017 solo exhibition, “Beauty Within” I had held in Royal Papua Yacht Club, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, can be found on my website www.joycelinleahy.com. That collection concentrates on people, places and things that have inspired me about the beauty of my country. The artworks are all for sale – both originals and limited edition prints. Some originals have been sold, however, you are welcome to email me on email@example.com. Please let me know in the comments if you like these and share them if you want. I will be showing more art here in the future.
I have taken a very long blog holiday; the longest since I first started blogging four to five years ago. I have had several art projects I needed to complete and I needed to spend some time on my book, health, and my family. During this time, I’ve received wonderful emails from many of you. Thank you. These emails have deeply touched me, and made me feel that my writing on the tribalmystic blog means something to all of us. To blog daily will be difficult at this time, but I’m very happy to return and work at posting two to three articles, stories or documentaries and pictures per week and when I can.
Thank you so much for your patience and continued support. You being here with me and sharing our stories means a lot to me too. In my culture, we dance to celebrate important events – coming home to this blog is worth dancing, so above are a group of young ladies dancing in Palau. I took this photo over ten years ago, and especially like the bright tones in their skirts and dancing sticks.
To kick start the writing, I would like to share with you a short story. Some of you may recognise parts of this story from my writing (150 words) Mondays Finish the Story with Barbara W. Beacham in 2015. I have left a link at the end of the story for you. I built the tale from 150 words to 500 words for the Queensland Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction in April, but since I didn’t win, I can share it here. Let me know what you think. The rules were to use the following lines in dialogue.
“It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should, therefore, be treated with great caution.”
“It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should, therefore, be treated with great caution,” Joe said and placed two “candies” on the windowsill. I didn’t respond.
I sat where I could see the pink roses over the white fence. The neighbour’s little girl came out to play. She had bluish lilac eyes and sunshine hair – golden and full of light. She looked two or three, just like Rosie, if she were here with me.
The drugs, one blue and one red, may divert my headache, but not fix it. I didn’t want to argue with him anymore – it only ever turned ugly. But when Joe made poetry and philosophy out of his drug business, it sickened me. I was tired of it, and him. And I wanted my daughter.
Joe moved around the house and after a while, I smelt his garlic breath and stinky shoes.
“What’s it going to be then, eh?” His arm pressed mine to take the pills and he kissed my head. I had dreamt about Rosie and now became tearful. After two years in Johnson Mental Facility, I finally started to feel good again and hoped to see Rosie. I had not seen my baby since she was six months old and Child Services took her. Joe promised me we would see Rosie.
“You keep talking about Rosie, and you do nothing about it. Nothing! You sit at that window all day, every day, Cathy!”
He twisted the truth. He won’t help me find her.
“Oh, by the way, Jack is coming on the payroll. It’s great! He’s never done anything like this before,” Joe said, sounding like he was the model big brother.
“You shouldn’t force Jack into that crap, he’s only 16,” I lashed out.
“I didn’t. He said he needed money.”
“Really?” And that was all I had to say. It became a war.
Later, in hiding, I watched the police take Joe away. He would have calmed down, but only he and I knew that; not our new neighbours. If only Joe wasn’t shouting. This abandoned house was the safest so far in two weeks. We have moved ten times this year.
Today was very quiet. The sun warmed my scalp and shadows danced on my hands. My thoughts hurt my head.
“Ava! Ava! Where is your doll?” the little girl’s mother called.
Near the white fence were a lilac doll pantsuit and two doll hands. The roses matched her floppy hat and threw shadow creases over her delicate face. The toddler first ripped the doll’s head and legs, which she threw towards me. Ava had caught me watching her. She laid the doll arms and pantsuit down, and dropping the body, she ran to their house. My eyes salted, thinking how scary I must have looked to her. I need to leave before the Johnson Mental Health party arrives.
A community champion leaves an example life for all as she bids farewell. An inspiring and heart-breaking story from Serahphina Aupong on Scott Waide’s blog.
When someone sets out to make a difference in a society, most times one would think of all the pre-conditions that need to be in place before that person can begin to effect that change.
Some would like the change maker to be of a certain gender, come from a certain place, have a certain level of education, wealth and age. Then there are some people who by simply being who they are and doing what they believe is right, change a society.
Maria Koimb was one such person.
From Domil in Jiwaka Province, Maria was the only sister to five brothers. Right after completing her grade 10 education, she was abandoned by her boyfriend with a newborn child. For a sixteen-year-old girl in 1992, in a rural village in Papua New Guinea, Maria’s life could have gone a lot of different directions. What she chose to do set the…
Although brief, a few days in Moresby was a breath of fresh (debatable) air after a long three years of not visiting. Touchdown on the tarmac was followed by a lengthy but interesting tour of the miles and miles of new roads built around the city as well as a visit to Koki Fish Market. The multitude, quality and price of Koki is unbelievable. The market is built over the water so the fish is literally straight from the sea to the stalls.
In fact, the whole marketing scene in PNG is unreal. The produce is fresh, the price makes eating your vegetables or fruit incredibly feasible and attractive, and frankly… the people selling the produce are inspiring.
Labour is on a whole other level for market sellers despite the foolish appearance the job gives of sitting around all day. I thought the bag full of produce I was carrying…
I have been away from this blog for a little while, working on other projects and deciding the future of the blog. I would like to continue the blog, but re-arrange or improve it in some way so if you have any suggestions, feel free to add to the discussion. In the meantime, here are two stories I found on YouTube while researching strawberries to grow this winter.
I am trying to re-plant my garden which has now completely overgrown from heavy rains earlier this quarter. I hope you enjoy the videos.
And for more usual sweetness see what else our world is inventing. It sounds and looks weird, but I’d love to try these ‘new’ fruits. Tell me in comments below if you have tried any of these fruits. I would like to know.
Some of you might be interested in submitting poems to this anthology. I know I am.
August 1, 2018 deadline!
poems for peace: an anthology to uplift encourage & inspire
This anthology, poems for peace (forthcoming, fall 2018), is the love-child of a group of poets and listeners who have been gathering quarterly in San Antonio, Texas since Nov. 11, 2017 in association with the San Antonio peaceCENTER. This anthology will be published as a peaceCENTERbook, with all proceeds going to support the CENTER.
While we are aware that many horrors occur in our world and that, as a people, we seem to be in turmoil and conflict on many fronts, our aim is to provide respite from the apparent problems and to purposefully turn our attention to the good, the Whole, the Holy, that which is full of peace and comfort.
Post Courier NewsOne of PNGs most celebrated singer Moses Tau had left us for good. Moses Tau, the country’s iconic singer had suddenly passed away an hour after he collapsed at the Lamana Hotel. His sudden death shook the country as people try to grasp the fact that he is no longer with us.As news of his passing spread, thousands of condolence messages flood the social media from both national and international users.Among the various condolences from relatives, friends and fans was a message from the Moresby South MP Justin Tkatchenko who posted his condolence message on his Hon. Justin Tkatchenko MP Facebook Page.“I have lost a wonderful friend who supported me without fear or favor and was so loved and admired by our people. He put fun and joy into our lives,” posted Tkatchenko.Mr Tkatchenko described the famous singer as vibrant and a true showman and thanked the Late star for making live more fun and exciting.He added that the late star music will still live on.
“We are going to miss you. Rest in ever lasting peace my dear friend your Music lives in us forever.”
Meanwhile, the details of his death are yet to be released.
From simple beginnings, this very colourful and dangerously outrageous talent started a music career. Little did Papua New Guineans truly understand what Moses was up. Many ridiculed and laughed at Moses’s rhythmic hip pulsating dance movements and high pitch feminine voice which quickly became a recognised and loved music (and name) not only in PNG, but across the Pacific islands. When Moses stepped on stage, a new era was born in a country closed to gay rights, dominated by men and the ruled by the cultural Melanesian ‘big man’ mentality.
There are exceptions to this seemingly endless process of discrimination and abuse. By the late 1990s, gays were well and truly stigmatised in PNG. That was when a gay Motuan gospel singer from Central Province a little to the east of Port Moresby was wooed away from his village gospel group by the PNG recording giant CHM Supersound Studios, who urged him to go solo. He adopted a generic Pacific style of singing, using falsetto voice, and so his first song Aito Paka Paka was born. It was an instant hit, and was soon followed by others.61 The accompanying video clips were all designed by Moses himself: the island-girl dancing style and costumes, lavishly replete with flowers, brightly coloured sarongs, outrageous hats and of course, the Pacific-signature swaying grass-skirt. He even managed to work a selection of tropical fruit into the dance scenes—the symbolism is obvious. It was the first public display of cross-dressing and transgenderism in the country—and it worked wonderfully. Moses became a star.62
Nevertheless, it wasn’t all easy.
When [the Aito Paka Paka clip] came out, it sort of brought this whole thing to the public, and those who were known as geligelis were harassed, they were called names … it came out to expose the lifestyle, and at the same time, had a negative side of it … it was sort of an awareness thing when Moses came out … he overdid that [the sarong and the flowers] … when Moses came out with his video clip, that was an issue among also the people here, and poor guy, I heard that he had a bad time too … people started stoning his car whenever they saw him, they were calling him names … very brave (Len).
Source: Image taken from the video, Moses Tau, 2005, ‘Aito Paka Paka,’ in The Best of Moses Tau.
But Moses was more than just a new pop singer sensation. He was a gay on a mission.
It is a very difficult thing in PNG to show your sexuality … is very scary, because it is not an accepted thing in PNG. I just want to do what I have and who I am. I also did it not for myself but for the suffering of we people through many years ago. And I told my friends: look, I’ll try it out, if I fail I fail. If I go through it with success, we will all benefit. So I’m targeting to educate the people of this nation to really know that there’s gays living in Papua New Guinea. So I did it. I went through it. It was very painful (Moses Tau).
Moses was invited to Cairns shortly after, for Independence celebrations.63 Then early in 2001, he was invited by the PNG community in Sydney to take part in the famous annual Mardi Gras parade. The PNG community there was constructing a float in the form of a lagatoi [seafaring canoe], to feature Moses as the ‘Pacific Queen,’ dressed as a traditional ‘Hiri Queen.’ Sponsorship was offered by PNG’s commercial radio station NauFM, ‘because he has not only developed into a prominent musician but has developed a good character. He has also developed a good following and has really lifted the image of PNG music.’64
However, this decision was not an instant hit with many. The Hiri Hahenamo [celebration of Hiri culture] refers to an annual Port Moresby festival which celebrates the Papuan tradition of the Hiri trading expeditions from the Central Province north-west to the Gulf Province, returning again as the winds change towards the end of the year. Special lagatois are built and a feature of the festival today is the Hiri Queen competition, open to girls from all surrounding Motuan villages who dress, dance and sing in a traditional manner. The Motu-Koitabu Council, which represents the Motu and Koitabu villages surrounding Port Moresby, took offence, its Chairman saying,
We [Motu Koitabuans] … do not approve nor do we encourage homosexuality in our society—traditional or contemporary … [we] are disgusted and not happy at all—to say the least—to have a very important and serious aspect of the culture portrayed at a festival for homosexuals.65
We are totally against the Hiri Hanenamo [sic] concept, which promotes morals and good behaviour, being taken and abused at such a morally wrong festival … we do not approve of or encourage such practices, and if Moses Tau wants to represent his personal beliefs and ideals, we suggest he represent himself personally by tailoring his own outfit on a theme which does not threaten to bring our name and culture into disrepute.66
This statement was followed by letters to the Editor and an FM-Central government radio talk-back show in which callers were divided.67 Many Motu-Koitabuans protested the desecration of their culture but others supported Moses, praising his talent, his openness and his right to perform as he wished.68
Moses was very troubled. He claims a deep respect for traditions and culture, and points to his background in the church and his family’s tradition as gospel singers.69 He immediately called a press conference and denied the reports of the lagatoi float and the Hiri Queen costume. He said his Mardi Gras appearance was to promote his album and not to represent the PNG gay community.70 The matter was kept in public view by a further news item showing Moses receiving his visa from the Australian Deputy High Commissioner, and relating how Sydney radio stations were carrying reports of the difficulties he was facing and the concern of the Mardi Gras organisers.71 But in the end, Moses did not ride on a lagatoi float or wear traditional Hiri Queen costume—instead, he wore yet another of his ‘Pacific’ creations, and danced his way along the street.72
After Moses returned from Sydney, his success and position were assured, with club appearances,73 sky-rocketing music sales and even a brief squabble between recording studios over him.74 Club performances of ‘Mardi Gras’ nights were staged, and were so successful that when another was proposed, Moses called on his gay friends to do a ‘queen’ show. To his surprise, many Filipinos also took part. These shows became a great success, attracting cosmopolitan audiences and many other clubs followed suit, and became the foundation for the drag shows of today.
But it was about more than fun. Moses took the opportunity to promote awareness after every show, saying,
We have these kind of people, this kind of community of people, that live in this country. We have no choice, we can’t change them, but let’s give them a chance to show their package, what they have. Give them a freedom for what they can do, for them to enjoy life. We can’t keep them in a cage for them to live in fear all the time (Moses Tau).
He continues his community outreach work, travelling around villages at his own expense, distributing condoms and promoting awareness about gay rights, HIV, the dangers of consuming homebrew alcohol and marijuana. Although he receives no funding support for this work, he has achieved a strong measure of fame throughout the country, and in January 2006 was invited to sing at the funeral of Bill Skate, the first PNG Prime Minister to die in office.
Opinion is divided as to whether the recent trend towards coming out was due to Moses or not.
One of the break-throughs I think especially in Moresby was Moses Tau’s [Aito Paka Paka] clip. That made people talk about it. That’s the turning point, it’s like an awareness that there are these sort of people around (Barry and Colin).
Before ‘she’ [Moses Tau] brought out the clip [Aito Paka Paka], we came out to the public before, the younger ones. As far as from what I see, those bigger ones, we’ve got plenty but because of the culture and the traditions … people are still hiding and some are forced to get married, and some, they just keep themselves locked up … like the group now we have here, like as for myself, at first I didn’t come out … but through those ones, I can see that … it’s not Moses Tau, it’s these ones … they’re the ones like, coming out, all this stuff (Palopa, indicating others in the meeting).
Even if Moses was the catalyst, the gains have been small and there is still a long way to go, even for committed activists, as Victor’s Tale above demonstrates.