By PATRICIA KEAMO
HONOURING the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare was part Team Papua New Guinea’s decision to wear Wosera-Gawi bilums during last Thursday’s Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, according to an official.
The bilums were woven by women from Vagiput in Wosera-Gawi, East Sepik, led by chief weaver Annemarie Kamba.
“This was the first Commonwealth Games since the passing of Sir Michael Somare,” Team PNG chef de mission Michael Henao told The National yesterday.
“The province also did a brilliant job in hosting the Queen’s baton relay in January
“So it was only fitting that we chose the bilum.”
The bilums were walked three hours from Vagiput to Yangimangua for a 30 minute boat ride to Pagwi before a three-hour drive to Wewak.
They were then flown from Wewak to Port Moresby and finally sent to Birmingham, United Kingdom, the host of the Games.
“The decision of the team’s kits, especially the uniforms for the opening and closing ceremonies, rests with me,” Henao said.
“It is not a matter to be taken lightly, considering the cost involved and the image of the country that you want to portray.”
Henao said he reached out to Wewak-based Dr Preston Karue who assisted in organising the production and transportation of the bilums.
“It was not a short, quick, easy, or cheap, journey,” he said.
“In Birmingham on July 26, we presented the bilums together with the other two elements of the bilas — the kapikapi (Trobriand head band) and basket (from East New Britain) to the athletes and officials. The country we represent is like a bilum, made up of many different strings, each varying in length and colour.
“Individually, they are strong, but when woven together, they become stronger.
“We must remain united as one nation as the late Grand Chief Sir Michael, all our forefathers and foremothers had envisaged.
“On behalf of Team PNG, I acknowledge Dr Preston Karue, Colin Nimoa Lepani on Kiriwina Island for our kapikapi, and Robin Kumaina Mola in Kokopo for our baskets.”
By PATRICIA KEAMO