Plotinus in the Jungle

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In which Anastasia becomes a local celebrity

Last week was the opening of the local cultural centre. They celebrated with a week-long singsing, which Anastasia attended every day. She dressed in traditional garb and performed with a singsing team. She loved it and came home exhausted every day.

Anastasia and her team

Anastasia and her team

Brandon and I went on Friday, the day of the official opening.

Unfortunately, by the time we got there, she was all danced out.

Unfortunately, by the time we got there, she was all danced out.

We did get to see her team perform, however.
We did get to see her team perform, however.

We walked around, saw other groups perform, and enjoyed the PNG version of carnival food- including fried plantains!

We ran into Elisabeth the cook and Rose the librarian from Good Shepherd!

We ran into Elisabeth the cook and Rose the librarian from Good Shepherd!

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There was a lot of spear-wielding

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They were waving brown squares above their heads- I didn’t find out why

Another child dancer

Another child dancer

Anastasia and some dancers in traditional Jiwaka headdress

Anastasia and some dancers in traditional Jiwaka headdress

This one is even helpfully labelled "Jiwaka Headdress"!

This one is even helpfully labelled “Jiwaka Headdress”!

Then we went to check out the animal display- two snakes and two cuscuses!

Note the hairless prehensile tail- cuscuses are related to possums

Note the hairless prehensile tail- cuscuses are related to possums

This one apparently tastes good

This one apparently tastes good

This one is a constrictor of some kind, and can apparently eat an adult pig

This one is a constrictor of some kind, and can apparently eat an adult pig

Anastasia got to hold one of the cuscuses earlier in the week.

We also got an advance tour of the buildings composing the cultural center– a traditional men’s house, traditional women’s house, and a traditional pig-slaughtering ceremonial hut.

The ceremonial house

The ceremonial house

Pig jawbones and carved heads as decorations

Pig jawbones and carved heads as decorations

Anastasia and some dancers in matching skirts (pur-pur) outside of the ceremonial house

Anastasia and some dancers in matching skirts (pur-pur) outside of the ceremonial house

The interior of the ceremonial house, with Michael, the painter at GSS, playing a traditional mouth harp

The interior of the ceremonial house, with Michael, the painter at GSS, playing a traditional mouth harp

Ostensibly, the highlight of the day was going to be various officials coming to officially open the exhibits and a new bridge that they had built, but the officials were 4 hours late, at least. Eventually the provincial governor sent his secretary in his place. Here is the local police commander, the aforementioned secretary, and the local bigman (with the feather headdress) coming up to the grandstand to give speeches. We did not stay for long after that, however.

Note the official blue baseball caps

Note the official blue baseball caps

It was really funny to see PNG nationals taking Anastasia’s photo with their cell phones, like they were the tourists! Now, whenever we travel locally, we hear “Anastasia! Yu bilas pinis!” (You were dressed up!).  Today Annie and I got on a bus after doing some thrift shopping and the people in the seat in front of us turned around and showed us the picture they took last week of Anastasia in her finery!

The famous Zimmerman

The famous Zimmerman

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3 Comments

  1. Bethany says:

    I feel honored to know a PNG celebrity! Keep dancing, Annie!!

    Like

  2. […] and said that she wanted to wear bilas too! So I got out the child-size purpur (yarn skirt) that Annie had worn and the feather headband, necklaces and bracelets with […]

    Like

  3. […] to the Goroka show re-sparked Annie’s interest in traditional dance. We heard that her dance team was going to the nearby town of Minj to dance; it turned out they had been hired to provide some […]

    Like

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