Carver: Speaker is wrong

Normal, Papua

The National, Monday February 17th, 2014

 MASTER carver Bege Mula, of  Waligi village, in the Balimo area of Western, is incensed by the insult waged against his creativity and his Gogodola cultural identity by Parliamentary Speaker Theo Zurenuoc and the National Parliament House Committee.

Mula was reduced to tears on hearing about the recent destruction and desecration of his artistic cultural decorations inside parliament. 

He is a leading sekema (master carver/teacher) of his Gogodala cultural heritage. 

In his younger days in the early 1970s, he was deeply involved with the revival of his cultural heritage. 

His skills and creativity acquired prominence outside his place and soon he was brought in as part of the team of artists from the National Arts School (now University of Papua New Guinea’s creative arts faculty). 

These artists made the carvings that embellished parliament. 

For his part, Mula was personally responsible for incorporating the Gogodala ancestral images into the totem pole which decorated the Grand Hall of the Parliament.

 Like other artistic work done for the Parliament at the time, the construction of the pole involved the creativity of many artists and craftsmen under a project called Bung Wantaim which expressed the spirit of national unity and cultural identity that motivated the emergence of PNG as an independent nation. 

Mula carved the left top part of the totem pole based on the memory of his ancestral heritage. 

In Gogodola, these kinds of carvings are called udagawawa (clan father) and are decorated with totemic emblems that belong to clan groups. 

In recent communications with the National Museum and Arts Gallery director, Dr Andrew Moutu and Tony Crawford, the instigator of Gogodala cultural revival of the early 1970s, Mula said:  “I am grossly incensed about the false attributions made by the Speaker that the left totem pole, which I carved, is somehow associated with sexual immorality and that the images on the pole originate from an African source. 

“This is absolute bullshit. This is so well below the intelligence quota of the Speaker. What is wrong with this man? 

“Can anyone help diagnose and restore his sanity? How could people with such a mindset serve PNG with a modicum of sanity and decency?”