A wrinkled dusky pink sheet cradles a flowered meri blouse, a laplap and a bible – a word or two in the bible is for me, she echoes…
Room scented with sea, woods, coconut oil, eucalyptus and basil
A lotto ticket to set me up for life (her farewell and a surprise gift)
“If I won,” she always said, “I would let you decide what to do with the money”
We had laughed and discussed the possibilities
On the bed, an italic old-style farewell, handwritten in a very neat prose, mixing pidgin and dialect –
“Pawi – my child, I will miss being here…”
My mother was in a plane and gone
Twelve months threaded colourful bilums, gardens, and stories,
bringing me back to the first ten years of my life.
An assortment of brown hue – sculptured gum branches stacked for winter’s fires
Through the window, her many familiar artwork marked my surroundings, reminding me of her even bossy ways
-purple and green kaukau leaves sitting neatly on mounds
“You have sweet potatoes for winter”, her voice reminds me.
The large elephant leaves of pumpkin spreads and sprout golden flowers – a promise for more food.
But, I miss her telling me her stories.
See below some of my mother’s creations. All her bilums featured here were sold before she left Brisbane for Papua New Guinea. If anyone is interested to purchase my mother’s bags – please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Breedlove (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919), known as Madam C. J. Walker, was an African American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist.
Eulogized as the first female self-made millionaire in America,] she became one of the wealthiest African American women in the country. Walker made her fortune by developing and marketing a line of beauty and hair products for black women through Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, the successful business she founded. Walker was also known for her philanthropy and activism. She made financial donations to numerous organizations and became a patron of the arts. Villa Lewaro, Walker’s lavish estate in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, served as a social gathering place for the African American community. The Madame Walker Theatre Center opened in Indianapolis in 1927 to continue her legacy. Both of these properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
There are many aspects of the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant (PNG) that are worth writing. I wanted to share tonight two aspects that are very valuable; one is the culturally inspired dress and two, the education support it gives to PNG women.
Here are some pictures from the crowing night of the Miss Pacific Islands PNG pageant. There is a pageant category called traditionally inspired dress. In these pictures, the six contestants wear their dresses inspired by their own tribal cultures. PNG has 22 provinces, over 800 languages with three official communication languages – English, Pidgin and Motu.
The Miss Pacific Islands Pageant Papua New Guinea’s motto is: Passion, Strength and Beauty.
The Miss PNG committee, while developing and moulding the young contestants to prepare for the final and then bring the winner to the regional Miss Pacific Pageant, this powerhouse team of women raise money to educate young Papua New Guinean women.
The process is that if any of the young women completing their tertiary education cannot finish their schooling because of financial reasons, this fund can help. Since its conception in 2010, the PNG committee has paid for 140 young PNG women to complete their tertiary education.
Miss Pacific Islands – Papua New Guinea, was crowned last night in front of a packed audience at Crowne Plaza Port Moresby.
Abigail Havora, age 24, is a Biology-Chemistry graduate from the University of Papua New Guinea. Miss Havora works for Oil Search Ltd. She is also a feminist and, an advocate for youth. Miss Havora was sponsored by the Pacific Balanced Fund. In her spare time, the bio-chemist devotes her time to The Voice Inc, a dynamic youth development organisation and the PNG Cancer Foundation.
“My intent is to bring a message that strengthens the bridge between culture and the changing times so young people, especially women, are more aware of what they are contributing to, and the type of influence they are exerting. I am passionate about making a difference, which may come across as a broad statement, but my personal motto is to – leave the place better than it was.” Miss Havora said.
Miss Havora is from Gulf and Central parentage, She will represent PNG in the regional quest, the Miss Pacific Islands Beauty Pageant in Cook Islands later this year. Abigail was one of six entrants in the pageant this year.
More on Miss Pacific Islands Pageant PNG – in the next post.
My Cootha is one of my favourite places in Brisbane. My closest friend and my son’s godmother Marina works in the temperate gardens. Often when I visit her, this wooden contemporary bench is where we sit and have lunch. I painted this watercolour for her as a gift. The poem is just an observation of people who come to sit in the temperate gardens.
“You’re Not Alone” an anthology in aid of MacMillan Cancer Care has been released. A paperback version is also available! Get your copy now!
Twenty-seven writers from around the world, including myself have entered an assortment of short stories for your pleasure, show your support by liking the new page on Facebook and expressing an interest in buying the book.
I found this story quite disturbing and in my opinion, it has a huge impact on intellectual property laws and what we own (or not own) as artists or people in general, once the property becomes virtual. In this story by Jessica Contrera, Washington Post – your Instagram photos aren’t yours: Someone can sell them as art for $90,000, which raises the questions once more about what is truly yours once it goes virtual. The Internet is the place where nothing goes to die. Those embarrassing photos of your high school dance you marked “private” on Facebook? The drunk Instagram posts? The NSFW snapchats? If you use social media, you’ve probably heard a warning akin to “don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your employer (or future employer) to see.” We agree, and are adding this caveat: Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want hanging in an art gallery. (What about what other people post of you, without you knowing?) This month, painter and photographer Richard Prince reminded us that what you post is public, and given the flexibility of copyright laws, can be shared — and sold — for anyone to see. As a part of the Frieze Art Fair in New York, Prince displayed giant screenshots of other people’s Instagram photos without warning or permission. The collection, “New Portraits,” is primarily made up of pictures of women, many in sexually charged poses. They are not paintings, but screenshots that have been enlarged to 6-foot-tall inkjet prints. According to Vulture, nearly every piece sold for $90,000 each. Read more here
Together We Can, a music video from Papua New Guinea.
I had a request by fellow blogger Annette from Beauty Along the Road for some singsing (dancing) when I posted a story last Saturday about the South Pacific Games opening in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. I could not find any material on the web, You Tube and other avenues, however I found this video, released on July 3rd, 2015 which is about the 2015 SP Games. The video was released to celebrate the opening of the 2015 South Pacific Games. I am proud to share this video not only for its content, but it was created by two of PNG’s amazing talents, Jamie Lee and Jagarizzar. The video features a collection of traditional singsing from across PNG and some of PNG’s pop and contemporary singers. I hope you enjoy the video.
Featured Artists: Jagarizzar, Briena Micah, Tinzy Mau, Henry & Santanya Gewang
Choir: Emirau Praise
Directed by Karl Bouro & Andrew Bouro of Torn Parachute
Written & Composed by Jagarizzar & Jamie-Lee
Produced, Mix & Mastered by Bryan B of Tune Studios, Malaysia
Aerial/Drone Footage: Robert Weber & MASALAI
Video Producers: Motsy David & Kamuna Consultancy
Production Assistants: Floyd Manata, Roan Paul, Graham Robinson
Cultural Groups: Aroma, Morobe, Huli Duna, Asoro Mudman, Paluai SookSook, Kiwai Dancers, Buka Bamboo Band
This is my second entry into the short story category in PNG National Literary Awards. Some of you know this story. It has been cut down to 1000 word limit. For more stories and entries into the competition, please visit the following links;
I felt his eyes piercing into my back as I struggled over the grassy hill. The air was tight and chilly so early in the morning.
I needed my three-month-old baby Boni’s softness, and the laughter of his older siblings. I was exhausted and wished I could stop. A sudden breeze brushed over the tall grass. Shoosh. I shivered.
Usually, when we returned from the garden, Bomoga walked proudly ahead, carrying his prized spear with a small bilum strapped across his bare chest. The children and I fumbled behind him: me with a child on my shoulder, another in the bilum on my back together with our second bilum of food and pulling our eldest by the hand.
Today, I was in front. I wore my favourite red meri blouse. In haste, I had worn it inside out – its flimsy seams waved loosely.
We reached the top of Kasu Hill. I gasped for air.
My heart pumped. From the only hill in Domogu Village in the wallaby plains of the Western Province, pale yellow-green lowland laid before me. The grass had been burnt in patches to entrap wild game. The lowland was also known for Papuan black, a deadly snake.
I marched down the ridge, as ordered. Cold mud numbed my sore foot. We reached the place where the Ok Tedi Mining had caused hundreds of fish and plants to die along the riverbank. Usually, there were people here. But it was still early – no one was about as we passed.
My milk dripped down my blouse. Without bra, my breasts swung full and uncomfortable. It was feeding time for Boni. The rising sun cast faint shadows and the warm air caressed my face. We had crossed Domogu tribal land. Bomoga’s ancestors, nomads like mine, had decided to settle in this fertile land.
My eyes scanned the mountains that Ok Tedi had exploited. To the south, there was an airstrip where planes flew in weekly. Our village looked like a jewel, deep jade opal, festooned with glassy lakes of many sizes.
I stumbled forward.
We entered a forest. Strangely, the birds here were silent. I heard sorcerers came here for bush medicine and magic making. I searched for sunlight through the tree openings.
“Keep walking,” he hissed.
I had not looked once in Bomoga’s eyes. When his sweaty hands had touched me that morning, I thought he wanted sex, but instead he shook me roughly and ordered me out of the house. His shadow had loomed over me as I took Boni off my breast and put on my meri blouse and my rubber skirt. Boni nestled into his blanket, eyes still shut. He didn’t cry for more milk, thank God. My other children, Eka and Maria were asleep. I heard Bomoga pick up something in the house before closing the door behind us. He was quiet and cagey, which was not like him.
He was never a warm person, not even to his family members, though he was loud to his male friends. He liked sex that was rough and on demand. In any argument, a sudden punch to my face or stomach was a possibility. If the children screamed, he yelled at them. The beatings only worsened if he thought I challenged him. “No one will help you, because you are MY wife,” he said. I felt he was right and did not seek help, not even from his family or other villagers. Recently his best friend Tommy had returned from Port Moresby. I heard Bomogu now liked Tommy’s sister who was younger and prettier than me. He wanted her, I heard.
I stepped on a stump with my sore foot. The pain almost made me cry out. Two of my toes had broken when I fell in the last fight. We continued through the gloomy undergrowth into a flat area. Through an opening I saw sunlight sprinkling light of various colours onto leaves and moss. I saw a beautiful butterfly on a fern. Its brilliant blue wings and black outline set against the leafy greens. I felt a flash of hope.
We walked on and soon I could hear rapids and the forest thinned out as we reached a Y junction. At my feet a Papuan black, unaware, slithered quickly across my path.
“Turn to the river,” Bomoga commanded.
I turned towards the rapids. My throbbing foot distracted me and I was afraid to fall. The river frothed, full from recent rain. Watching water as it rushed away, a thought stirred my mind. Was he going to toss me into the river?
I imagined where my body would lay after death; my treasured red meri blouse, still inside out, clinging to my slim frame. Dragged ashore with a paddle shafted under the hem of my blouse, a trail would be imprinted on the sand on the silky Suki River banks. Villagers rushed to screaming children who discovered me. A woman bellowed my name, “Sulita!, Sulita!” But after hours in the muddy river, half-dressed and impaled by a black palm spear, I would no longer be Sulita.
“Stop!” he yelled.
The ground looked easy to dig in places. I kept my face down. My feet were covered in mud and grass
“Turn around. Look at me!”
I turned and raised my eyes to the point of his most prized black palm spear.
With this spear Bomoga had speared the biggest pig, the fastest wallaby and driven the largest cull of deer. Many feared Bomoga because of his mastery with the weapon. My eyes shifted from the spear to my husband’s eyes for the first time that day. They were bulging and blood-rimmed. His nose flared and his sweat drenched eyebrows twitched. Ten long years and we still stared at each other like strangers.
He raised and pointed with the spear. “Where would you like to be buried?” he asked.
I dropped to my knees, closed my eyes and prayed.
This story is based on a true story set in Suki, Western Province. It is dedicated to the strong women and the survivors of domestic violence in Papua New Guinea and other Melanesian societies.