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New Guinea recollections. (Part 8 of 8)

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Papua New Guinea Independence: 16 September 1975

Australia relinquished its colonial administration of PNG at the earliest practical opportunity in accordance with the wishes of the United Nations.
No political uprising or general discontent preceeded this transition.

One of the many ceremonies to mark the occasion was conducted at Finschhafen. There were very few dry eyes, either brown or blue, as the Australian flag was lowered for the final time and replaced with that of the independent nation of Papua Niugini.


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Delving into my past to prepare this series of recollections has not been a process entirely free of emotion, because those of us who were fortunate enough to work so closely, and for so many years, with village people in New Guinea inevitably formed deep connections with them and their country.

So many of my co-workers and friends who featured in these stories and photographs are no longer with us, so it is for them and their descendants that I have written this series.

I was sent from Australia to "teach" Papua Niuginians.

In the final analysis it was they who taught me one thousand times more.

Especially the tolerant, happy and hospitable people of the Mape, Upper Dedua, Mongi, Kua and Bulum areas of Morobe Province who took me in and treated me as one of their own, and who showed me a societal model so vastly different from mine.
Their sustainable model.  Their caring and co-operative society.  
Their way of life where family and close community are central to everyday life.

Australia can hold it's head high for the work it did in bringing PNG to Independent nationhood with such a high degree of unity, prosperity and peace.

History will be the judge of how Papua Niugini managed the opportunites we presented to it on the 16th September 1975.

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To mark the conclusion of this series I now wish to kick up my ageing  wrinkly heels with my very favourite kind of PNG music.
A bamboo band…..stacks of bamboo tubes, the ends of which are rhythmically and toe-tappingly flogged with rubber thongs, or if that phrase conjures up a somewhat interesting proposition for my American friends, rubber flip-flops.
I hope you too will enjoy it even though they appear to be cheating in this clip by using some PVC pipe instead of bamboo.

Thank you to everyone who has shared my little stroll down memory lane.

(for access to all stories in this series click "view my tags" on right of page, then "png history")

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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

14 responses »

  1. What a wonderful series this has been to read, GOF!! You say much about your character when you say that you learned 1000 times more from the Papua Niuginians, than they learned from you. Your story, the pictures, and your memories are priceless. How wonderful that you took the time to write it down. I am sure it will mean so very much to many people! I enjoyed the Bamboo Band. I have never heard or seen that kind of music played.

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  2. Thanks so much for these, GOF. A glimpse into the past that we would never have known otherwise. I saw one such band at the markets here one day. They were excellent. You'll be pleased to know that that the pipes were the real deal bamboo.

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  3. Thank you Freedom for your encouragement, and taking the time to read these stories.

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  4. Nice end to the story. Thanks GOM.

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  5. "You'll be pleased to know that the pipes were the real deal bamboo". Thank you Snowy….I have very much appreciated your encouragement from the beginning of this series.The bamboo band in the video is obviously set up for tourists, but the sound does closely resemble that of the real bands. (I was about to write "traditional" but suspect rubber thongs don't quite fit into that category šŸ™‚

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  6. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your stories and seeing the pictures you had taken. You were the right man for the job because you write about it with such appreciation for the people and such admiration. I know that the conditions had to be harsh at times and yet, you don't portray that kind of attitude in your writing. I learned so much about that area, that time period, and about you! My hat is off to you, GOF!

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  7. I love the huge panpipes. In college I played in an Andean ensemble with little panpipes. It's a sweet sound. Your series has made me wish to visit the region. Beautifully written. It's a special and unique set of posts you wrote here.

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  8. That's a great and a happy end to a fascinating story. I didn't know anything about PNG before reading this and it's about the only place I can think of that's achieved the process of independence without trouble. And well done to you, for not going into it with the colonial attitude of 'these people are backward savages' but for learning about their ways and society and for accepting that there's a great deal WE could learn from THEM. It's been a fascinating journey GOF and I'm sad to see it come to an end.

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  9. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your stories and seeing the pictures you had taken.Thank you for all your kind comments during this series Freedom….writing it has given me a great deal of pleasure, and I have appreciated your virtual company throughout the process.

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  10. Thank you Vicola for your very kind comments and taking the time to read the stories. You are right….Western society has so much it could learn from traditional societies around the world, but it is waay too busy focussing on some pot of gold at the end of the economic rainbow to take much notice.

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  11. This has been a marvelous series GOF – I have really enjoyed your stories and photos. I hope for a second series some day. I love the bamboo band – they are certainly rhythmic. Do they wear the thongs home after their performance?

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  12. Thanks for your kind words Emjay. I suspect there won't be a second series on PNG as most of my old pictures have now been "saved".Do they wear the thongs home after their performance?Most of the performers I knew never wore any footwear at all.

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