IN PNG there is a big row because the Speaker of the Parliament and a Minister (a female) were on a “cleansing” programme where traditional decorated art like the lintel over the entrance to the House and a pole, among other things, were removed.
A lot of people, including the Director of the National Museum and Art Gallery, Dr Andrew Moutu, reacted to that and asked what in the world were the two up to.
The Prime Minister Peter O’Neill intervened and told the Speaker to put halt the programme.
Personally, I do not see any problems with the art work.
My point has always been, the national leaders have to clean the House from the inside.
And I mean, there should be a cleansing programme where the hearts and minds of the 111 MPs must be “cleansed from within” first before any outward cleansing is done.
Bad decision-making does not come from the House – but the people in the House.
People who read their Bibles know this basic principle.
Now, that leads me to another thing.
Generally, all my views (posted or sent in other media forms) are weighed out by using two instruments - Bible principles and our cultural norms and values.
Yes, it is true that some of our cultural practices were “evil” and those should not be encouraged. (Sorcery and payback killing are some practices that should not be encouraged. They are evil and must be stopped.)
However, there are a lot of things and practices in our culture that had shaped and kept our people from extinction for thousands of years.
We would be foolish to throw them away just because people think everything traditional is wrong.
I will give you just one example.
While researching the Hiri Trade of the Motuans and the Gulf people of Papua, I appreciated the organisation and management of the men who initiate the project – the Baditauna and Doritauna. They, with agreement from their wives (who are also part of the management process), organise for months or even years ahead to send canoes (lagatois) out to sea to trade clay pots for sago.
They also follow strict codes, something that we have lost in many villages today.
They believed that abiding by those codes increased the chances of the voyages (Hiri) being a success.
The canoes would travel for days for 200km or so up the Gulf of Papua with the Laurabada (south-east trade winds) and return a few months later when the Lahara (north westerlies) set in.
My point is ... we should not throw out everything cultural.
Over at Wallis and Futuna, in September, I saw something else too, something cultural that involved the young people, that I think is missing in a lot of villages in the Pacific. I admired that. (I may write about this later.)