By ISAAC LIRI
IT’S rare to see an all-female music band take to the stage to perform in Papua New Guinea. On most occasions if there is a female singer or back-up vocalist, then the rest of the band would comprise of males.
However, that was not the case during the 2017 Autonomous Region of Bougainville Day celebrations in the nation’s capital last Saturday at the Sir John Guise Stadium.
A band, consisting of all students from Don Bosco Technical Institute entertained hundreds by performing Solomon Islands music sensation Sharzy’s hit song Meri Buka. This was a favourite of many that hit the radio airwaves some years back.
For this song, the young musicians twisted the lyrics of the song from Meri Buka to Mangi Buka. It was overwhelming for the spectators as they reacted to the talented women singing about men.
One could obviously tell by the amused look on the faces of Bougainville leaders like Member for South Bougainville Timothy Masiu and Member for Central Bougainville and Minister for Bougainville Affairs Fr Simon Dumarinu that the music was good.
The smile on their faces was an indication that they were enjoying the performance which also, in a way, reminded them of the power women wield back in Bougainville which is a matrilineal society.
In Bougainville, women are landowners where land and family title passes on through the mother’s blood line.
Once the ladies took to the stage, the crowd were kept on their feet with applause after applause. Members of the public jostled towards the stage to capture the rare moment on their mobile phones and cameras.
The hearts of Bougainville mothers around the stadium were bursting with joy and pride as they watched their brave daughters strutting their stuff and just being as talented as their male brethrens.
On stage, the band played remarkably well, from the drummer to the bassist and from the guitarist to the keyboardist and the vocalists, confidence prevailed as they connected with the audience.
After their first item, the crowd called out for more, with the musicians summoning more attention from the crowd than any other single event that day. Most people were hoping that the band would just belt out number after number. But that was not to be.
Midway through the group’s performance, and much to the surprise of the audience, the band announced for their guest performer to join them on stage.
Before the guest’s name could be called, the crowd had gone wild with people screaming.
She was none other than popular music artist, Mereani Masani. The scene was as if North Korea had thrown a bomb and people went wild with screams and waving of hands as the guest walked onto the stage to perform her hit song, Bossman.
The performance of Bossman, got everyone in the groove and people old and young danced and sang along in downright fun fashion.
The message that emanates from the female band is that time for the old is going and new times are ahead. Barriers, that once held women back from jobs and hobbies designated as for men only, are going down. In making music, just as in all other occupations and pastimes, everyone is now equal.
The performance reflected on women gaining courage and coming out to express their emotions, having the voice to discuss freely and openly without discrimination or restriction.
After the performance I received a lot of positive feedback regarding the band.
Even the master of ceremony and famous radio personality Uncle ET gave the thumbs up to the group. He was amazed by the talent displayed by those young women.
Many fellow Bougainvilleans who went to the provincial day celebrations were adamant that the band was definitely the highlight of the day.
I am hoping that such performances would become common in the future not just to entertain but as a way to promote gender equality through music.
By ISAAC LIRI