October 24 and 25 brought some excitement to Lae in the form of the annual Morobe Show. The Lonely Planet guide for PNG declares it the best cultural event in the country – and much of it certainly was spectacular.
Other aspects were reminiscent of shows the world over – albeit with a PNG difference. The show bags were devoid of cheap toys and gimmicks, offering snack foods, cleaning products, hats, and school supplies. Obviously the locals aren’t crazy enough to waste their money on junk! Almost everyone was carrying around large yellow rice containers, sold at the pavilion of a local rice producer Trukai.
There were a few ‘sideshow alley’ games of skill / chance, but the prizes generally involved winning back some money, or food, rather than an oversized stuffed bunny. Locals displayed their talents in growing and arranging flowers or breeding fat and happy pigs. Schools laid out their artworks and other achievements, and business and industry spruiked their products and services.
Throughout both days there were events in the main arena – musical performances, an archery contest, and an entertaining display from a local security company’s dog handlers – complete with some fake antagonists who donned protective gear to permit the dogs to get their teeth into the performance.
The highlight was the parade of traditionally dressed groups from all parts of PNG, with older folk to small children dancing and singing with enthusiasm, ignoring the heat and dust of the showground arena. The intricate headdresses and other bilas (decorations) must take ages to assemble, and some look quite heavy, towering metres above the heads of the wearers. There was no judging or prize for the participants – just the joy of presenting your culture for the world to see.
The diversity of culture and the passion with which the people embrace it is a reminder of why the work of translating the scriptures is so important. Culture and tradition speak to the heart of the people of PNG, and the Gospel in tokples (vernacular language) speaks God’s love in the same manner.
Please pray …
- thankful for the opportunity to relax and enjoy the weekend
- for people to be freed from the aspects of tradition that still bind and entrap – reliance on ancestral spirits and magic
- praising God that the Gospel reaches all cultures with the message of His love