The All Nations Women’s Group adds a touch of Africa to their annual gathering. ELIZABETH MIAE reports
THE sound of the Mbira (traditional African instrument) blended in with the beautiful voices of the African women as they sang about their beloved continent, Africa in Kiswahili-language spoken widely in East and West Africa.
Silence filled the Kumul ballroom at the Holiday Inn last Tuesday as women from different nations living in Port Moresby gathered for the annual All Nations Women’s Group (ANWG) meeting hosted by the African caucus.
The African ladies all dressed in their traditional dresses representing their countries, sang with pride about the continent they described as a “rainbow continent of people”.
The meeting included songs and dances, parade of traditional wears, displays of arts and crafts, a synopsis of Africa, poems and the highlight of the meeting was the presentation of what the Africa woman as a wife, a mother, member of a community and the modern professional woman.
The various dances put on by the ladies had the guests on their feet, clapping and shaking their hips to the beat of the African music.
Invited guests included the Philippines’ Ambassador to PNG and members of the ANWG.
The message highlighted in the presentation about the African woman was the fact that behind every successful man and child was a woman. This same sentiment was expressed by women all over the world.
“That is the motivation that drives African women,” presenter Semi Ojuka said.
It was evident that day the (African) ladies were very enthusiastic in showcasing their culture and tradition to the rest of the women from other nations as they had been preparing for a long time for that day to come.
Although the African continent is made up of 54 nations, the African caucus of the ANWG was represented by women from South Africa, Tanzania, Angola, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Morocco, who hosted the meeting.
The ANWG was founded in July 1988 and operated on a lose informal basis until March 2007 when the group was formally constituted.
From its early beginnings, membership currently stands over 200 women from across the world with an active membership of women from PNG.
In July 1988, the wives of the heads of Diplomatic Missions and International organisations in Port Moresby were encouraged to join once a month to promote fellowship and goodwill.
In March 1989, the first annual general meeting was held and in August that year, the constitution and by laws were formally approved by members.
The executive committee in 1989 believed the main purpose of the group was friendship but they also assisted charitable organisations and educational institutions.
This year has also become a year in which the women from Australia, Philipines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Africa have presented their country and culture to others, promoting an increase in understanding and appreciation.
Ann Clarke, speaker for our 21st celebrations, encouraged everyone to grow old gracefully by staying open-minded and active.
ANWG yearly highlights are the Saturday Nov 7 International Bazaar, followed by the festive Christmas lunch on Dec 1.
ANWG president Jeanette Johnson said ANWG 21st celebrations have been a wonderful acknowledgement to Robyn Joseph, wife of the 1988 Australian High Commissioner to PNG, for the conception of the group.
“I believe that she would be honoured to know that the organisation was still functioning and that the membership number is continually growing,” she said.
“Ellen Brophy, with the assistance of others, has worked hard to establish the ANWG web page (anwgpng.webs.com) to assist new and not so new arrivals to PNG.
“All information on this site assists people to adjust to a new life style and discover avenues for new friendships and life experiences,” she added.
ANWG has also had a variety of mid monthly activities. These have included a morning tea for relatively new comers to PNG, a visit to Hohola Youth Development Centre where Br Leo, staff and students gave us a guided tour and morning tea.
Husbands and partners enjoyed the opportunity to be included in the tour of SP Brewery with the Brew Kettle Bar refreshments and food as an added highlight.
International SOS PNG staff enlightened us about emergency medivac flights and the need to be prepared for the worst case scenario.
Evangeline Joyce, with the assistance of the 2009 ANWG committee members, women and private companies, is in the process of producing a 2010 diary, to promote the group’s 21st year celebrations.
The profits from the sale of the diary will be used to assist education and health needs, in Port Moresby.