I have travelled to almost all provinces in this country. At every travel opportunity I take back something oddly beautiful yet life changing.
In East New Britain, I learnt communal work.
In Eastern Highlands, I learnt servitude.
In Sandaun Province, I learnt humility.
In East Sepik Province, I learnt resilience.
I saw life as entirely reciprocal. I am there for those who were there for me.
My belief system was limiting me to fully enjoy communal relationship with others.
But this belief changed when I witnessed Yanga clansmen of Tsak Valley standing shoulder to shoulder, stout with pride.
Their cultural obligation operated entirely on communal relationships. They give their hand in response to a brother’s time of need.
The relationship is communal and does not create a obligation to return a comparable benefit, as it does in exchange relationships.
There were arguments (as with all family occassions) and words were exchanged and frustrations heightened.
I watched with great admiration when the sun rose the next morning the aggrieved person returned to the gathering venue and continued to carry out his responsibility as if nothing broke him the day before.
What needed to be said was said, what needed to come off the chest did come off, the differences ironed out. Life goes on.
There was no time for emotional blackmail aka ‘pulim nus’.
They moved in numbers and occasionally announced to us, the newcomers, “This is for Terry or Michael Injia (son) as they brought pigs and fresh vegetables.
The clan women wailed after a few drinks at the conclusion of the event, “Terry em lewa blo mipla,” they cried.
It got nothing to do with stature.
To them their son has come of age, bearing a son, bringing a wife home. It’s a win for the community.
The youngest child to the oldest villager walked miles to contribute to the event.
In the coastal regions, our differences usually disrupt our activities.
An uncle may not agree and will walk away from the family unit because he was not accorded with respect or not heard enough or given decision making rights.
My highly sensitive coastal being needed a toning down. I learnt in Tsak those who matter will stay. They all chose to stay and deal no matter the differences, because family is family.
In Tsak Valley, I learnt loyalty.