By PETER ESILA
FLORENCE Jaukae is a name synonymous with culture in Papua New Guinea.
Known famously as the bilum meri, Jaukae who is the managing director of Jaukae Bilum Products, was a proud woman last Thursday when the Prime Minister launched the PNG National Cultural Policy 2022-32.
The policy will ensure PNG culture is shifted from the social sector to the economic sector.
Many artists, musicians and cultural advocates were consulted in drafting the policy, says National Cultural Commission (NCC) executive director Steven Kilanda.
Jaukae who has travelled the world promoting PNG bilums says culture now has a policy and true government recognition. She has definitely been a great advocate.
Symbolically, the bilum is very significant to every Papua New Guinean, on a very practical level, it is just what everybody, children to grown up continue to have and continue to use, it representatives how it is to be Papua New Guineans,
“I am very happy I have a big strength now. I thank Mr Kilanda, after a very long time, I am satisfied, that now I have a policy that will look after us, the artists and creatives artists in the country,” she said.
“It is a big journey I have made for bilum, I went overseas promoting our bilums, people carry bilums but they do not know the story behind bilums.
“They do not know where the bilum came from, our culture is diverse, and so I put my hand up to start a first bilum festival in PNG, with support from Museum, Art and Gallery and NCC, to look after the stories and designs behind the bilums.
“There has been many fake bilums and counterfeit items there are some scared objects that supposed to be hidden, are out there.
“We must look after our culture, minerals will come and go, they have a lifespan, culture will remain, culture is very closed with agriculture, they go together, culture is our identity, it is our strength.
“I am now happy, I used to run around officers, to look for support for some of the concerns of our cultures.
“We must look after our culture, not only bilum, we look at tapa, music, tattoo, because in a way these are all stories, bilum design connects the men when they go out for battle, it connects with the tattoos, and face paintings, they all have a story.
“The big challenge, is the policy is now here, implementation is a big task ahead, we need to support the NCC team and continue the work, awareness, educate the people, people need to know they own stories.
“Every bilum has a story, many times we see the bilums, its paints.
“When you go overseas and see a bilum you will know that it is from Papua New Guinea,” she said.
Prime Minister James Marape has praised Kilanda the team at NCC from its board down to the staffs for drafting the first ever cultural policy in the country.
“The policy is very important for us as a cultural agency with clear mandates to deliver on cultural programme. We have a daunting job of preserving, protecting, safeguarding, and developing the arts and cultures of Papua New Guinea,” Kiland said.
“We have a job to ensure that culture is not a forgotten part of development plans in the country.
Out of the world’s 5,000 cultures, Kilanda said Papua New Guineans were blessed with about 1,000 or one fifth of these cultures.
“That already makes us a unique, vibrant and a colorful country in the world.
“PNG may not feature prominently at the global stage in some areas, but in the arts and culture space, we are up there as one of the most culturally diversified nation on earth.
“Recent international studies have shown that cultural and creative industries are the fastest growing sectors in the world with an estimated worth of US$ 4.3 trillion per year.
“The cultural sector now accounts for 6.1 per cent of the global economy and nearly 30 million jobs worldwide, thus employing more people between the ages of 15 to 29 than any other sector in the world.
“If we could only capture 1 per cent of this market, we could land ourselves with another LNG.
“This policy provides us with direction and confidence to go about doing our work and collaborate with our partners locally, regionally and internationally. Gone are the days for doing things in an ad hoc manner.
“Whilst the policy is being implemented, of which we are hoping that Treasury and Planning Departments come good with funding for 2022, we have few other important policies ahead of us to deliver. There is the Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture Bill and its related policy to address the intellectual property pertaining to the use of our cultural goods and traditional knowledge, that we hope will be completed soon, this is from the earlier work of Dr Eric Kwa (when as a lecturer at UPNG) in 2010.
“Other policy to be developed is a film policy and its regulatory measures. The film industry in PNG is under-regulated and under-performing, particularly our very own National Film Institute (NFI). We believe a policy will assist the NFI and others on how they go about film production in PNG.
Kilanda thanked all stakeholders, partners and Diplomatic Corps for always supporting the work of NCC.
Marape said his government and the next government to come must continue to support the cultural industry in the country with the policy as a guide.
“This is a first ever cultural policy for PNG since gaining Independence nearly 47 years ago.
“Protecting and preserving our cultural heritage is one thing but that should not restrict our people, craftsmen/women and creative artists to utilize theur knowledge and creative abilities to create employment or business. There is a huge potential offered by this policy.
“While the focus is on culture, the policy goes further addressing the economic potential of cultural tourism, and promoting the development of the cultural and creative industries.
“Blessed with over 800 languages and diversity of cultures, the opportunity is there for all to participate and contribute.
“While economic, political and social plans, reforms and progress are a necessity for the nation, we must also collectively address issues and challenges impacting on cultures and well-being. Others cannot do it for us, we have to do it ourselves to show that we care.
“No one doubt that our nation’s heartbeat is our culture. The expressions of our culture provide us with our undeniable identity as Papua New Guineans. We can’t pretend to be somebody else for sure either,” Marape said.