Sepik group brings home closer

Weekender
COVER STORY

By TROY WARANANGU
BOEM-Sara Cultural Preservation and Tourism Promotion Centre of West Yangoru, East Sepik has every reason to be on high after a milestone accomplishment. The group completed a 10-day tour of Brisbane, Australia during the week of PNG’s 44th Independence celebrations.
The traditional singsing troupe was in Brisbane from Sept 8-17 to showcase the unique cultural identity of Boem-Sara and add flavor to the 44th Independence anniversary with the PNG community down under.
Telling the story may sound too easy; getting on the plane, travelling to Brisbane, putting up the show, and return home. That is the entertaining segment. But the painstaking, behind-the-scenes planning, preparations and coordination are the most crucial elements of realising a dream of this magnitude come to the fore. Please, read on.
Accompanied by Richard Maru, Member for Yangoru-Saussia, the 11-member troupe and one official began the tour with the opening performance at Griffith University’s Nathan Campus in Brisbane on Sept 10.
The second performance was at the PNG Consulate cocktail dinner at the Brisbane Consulate Office on the 12th and the final performance was what everyone was looking forward to, on Sept 15, adding real flavor of home with the PNG community in commemorating 44 years of Independence at the Bill Norrie Oval, Brisbane.
At the PNG Consulate cocktail dinner, Maru, who was also the guest speaker, spoke highly of Boem-Sara cultural group.
“I am proud to follow the Boem-Sara cultural singsing group from my electorate this far. It is the first of its kind for Sepik provinces.”
Those who came to watch could not contain their excitement as the unique beating of kundu drums together with the unaided bass and altos of pure tumbuna (traditional) singing harmonies were too tempting to keep the feet still. They joined in the swaying as they circled around with the taste of PNG. For Papua New Guineans it was home at their feet and joy was written all over. It doesn’t get tastier until you’re living in a distant land, doesn’t it?
Travelling on a plane for the first time, outside of the comforts of the village and to even travel well out of the country to a foreign land of iron and steel is another chapter in itself. Four years on, since this concept first received media attention little did our villagers know that they would even have the chance to sit on a jet plane, moreover, travelling overseas.
“This is a dream come true as it took me six years for this tour to be eventually realised,” reminisced Rex Naranen, the director of the cultural group.
“I can be proud and happy but never more so for myself as it was a collective effort and there are people worth mentioning that deserve the accolades more than anything else. Without their support this event wouldn’t have come to pass. It would still be the dream that would continue to haunt me years on end,” Naranen said.
“To Richard Maru, our elder and Member for Yangoru-Saussia, thank you for the political will from the start of this project and continuing to be so. Your support and presence portrays a leadership of humility, for which we are forever grateful.
“Thank you to Tourism Promotion Authority CEO, Jerry Agus and your team of hardworking staff for your wisdom in seeing the importance and believing in us from day one. We look forward to working closely with you in driving the agenda of culture and tourism for a greater benefit in the years ahead.
“To Queensland Multicultural Centre, Landlease Foundation Queensland, Kumul Scholars International, Yangoru-Saussia community in Brisbane and the PNG community in Brisbane, on behalf of my group and the village of Boem-Sara, words can’t express how much indebted we are to you all for everything you’ve done in making this tour a memorable one.
“Wangian Manihia and your beautiful wife, Sharon Mauludu Manihia, the people of Boem-Sara will forever be grateful to you. You will always be in our hearts and minds. Thank you for making us believe that a tour of this nature was possible. The sponsorship arrangements, the tour arrangements and above all – hospitality was way beyond compare,” Naranen wholeheartedly expressed.
He also thanked his own people of Boem-Sara village for rallying behind him and the travelling party, the educated elites of Boem-Sara and Yangoru-Saussia at large, and all well-wishers for their contributions and moral support towards the success of this cultural tour.
All good things must come to an end the never-resting ingenuity of Rex Naranen had struck an understanding with the sponsors to see this cultural extravaganza to be an annual event. This is another beautiful chapter for Boem-Sara Cultural Preservation and Toursim Promotion Centre in the making.

  • Troy Waranangu is a freelance writer.

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