Preserving culture


BACK in December of 2015 Weekender ran a feature article titled ‘Cultural Realisation in West Yangoru’.
Almost nine months on and it is a delight to come back and confidently say, this cultural preservation concept is now realised.
This came about after the Member for Yangoru-Saussia, Richard Maru led a government delegation to the district on the August 21 to see first-hand the initial set up of the Boem-Sara Cultural Preservation and Tourism Promotion Centre.
The MP, who also the Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry pledged his support to ensure that this initiative was recognised on a national scale by announcing that a submission on the project was before the National Executive Council for endorsement. Three years ago it was only a concept in Rex Naranen’s head until he had it on pen and paper, after discussing it with the village elders in consultation with the district administration and respective offices within the province before submitting it as a project proposal to the Department of National Planning for possible funding.
Rex Naranen is the initiator and project director of this cultural preservation initiative.
As the initial step towards seeing the concept materialise into a modernised cultural heritage centre the people of Boem-Sara built this haus tambaran to take the journey a step closer. When thanking the Boem-Sara village for taking this initiative Maru was adamant that one very reason why tourists don’t flock to PNG was because there were no attractive tourism products.
“PNG hasn’t been investing enough in tourism infrastructure and projects despite our potential,” he said. East Sepik, he said, has so much untapped tourism potential but the major setback was the lack of leadership and no tourism master plan. Law and order is a big concern and people who want to see this initiative coming to fruition have to stand together and fight lawlessness in the village, so as the district.
As it is in every village community, the desire to see the political will behind their initiatives gives them the heads up, hence, an elated Rex Naranen believes that this initiative is destined to impact all sectors.
An elite of Boem-Sara, Titus Wrakonei, in his Facebook post relating to the cultural preservation centre and the Member’s recent visit has this to say: “Boem-Sara is one of the last cultural frontiers of Yangoru-Saussia that is intact but threatened by modern education system and Christian faith. Your timely visit displayed the political will in our cause for preserving some of them before they are extinct forever. Your undertaking and support gives us the confidence to continue our journey in the preservation process. We give you and all those involved undivided support.”
Ray Ningi, another elite of Boem-Sara and the man who has embraced and financially empowered Rex through with the initiative when he was first introduced three years ago, believes in the power of giving and not expecting anything in return.
“When I was first introduced to the concept by Rex I was amazed because I could see the impact it would have in curbing lawlessness within the village community and district as well. This is my contribution to my village community and the wider community as a whole,” said a humble Ray Ningi.
“My challenge to other elites, not just of Boem-Sara, but the Yangoru-Saussia district as a whole is to come forward with whatever means of support this cause so we can see real changes within our village communities, especially deterring youths from prevalent social woes,” stressed Ningi. For the benefit of those who are familiar with the design and structure of this celebrated and renowned Sepik haus tambaran (spirit-house), which is a heritage of the Abelam people of Maprik district, and wondering how the people of West Yangoru (Boem-Sara village) have come to erect this structure, there is an explanation for that.
According to Rex Naranen, the culture house in Yangoru/Boiken language is called huorombo. Boem-Sara village of West Yangoru LLG is the only village allowed to build this type of huorombo. This was so because of Rex’s grandfather’s involvement with the Abelam people of Maprik in the early 1950s.
“My grandfather by the name of Saruwaleh Hembesaihe was initiated into the haus tambaran by the Abelam people and given permission to build the house at Boem-Sara in order to observe the culture and keep the initiation process going.”
What has now transpired at Boem-Sara village is destined to have ripple effects in the foreseeable future as Rex and his team are not resting until this three year project truly transforms cultural preservation from a village community level up.
This cultural preservation centre stands to see its objective of promoting and preserving the unique cultural heritage of the people of Boem-Sara and Yangoru-Saussia through tourism development, capacity building and awareness on key development issues.
A major fund raising drive will be held on Nov 12 in Port Moresby to raise much needed funds for the ground breaking ceremony in Dec 2016.

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