culture

Straight outta Menyamya: Clay pistols, pine needle slides and real people

Inspired by artist,  Leban Sakale John’s posts, here is my piece.

Menyama is etched in my mind.

I loved every bit of the place and as a boy growing up in arguably one of the best places in the country, I lapped up every minute of it. My brain soaked up the sweet experiences like a sponge.

It was the best place a kid could grow up.

I love pine trees.  In Menyamya, pine trees were everywhere. Every afternoon I ventured into the patches of pine and walked on the beds of slippery needles. I was a soldier, a warrior, armed with a bamboo bow and a handful of pitpit arrows.   Sometimes when the season was right, the pine needles became excellent slippery slopes down which we spent hours sliding down again and again until the earth became bare.

Just before midday, when the wind would pick up, the pines would whisper as the wind caressed the leaves.  The experience was as real as it was poetic.

Near the German  Bingsu’s house in the primary school,  the sweet smell of ground coffee used to waft through the air when we  passed by to go home in the afternoons.  Almost always, we took detours to where good clay deposits could be found.

Grey clay was everywhere.  Clean. Sticky. Malleable.  You could turn that chunk of clay into anything. You were limited only by your imagination.  Every day, I came home dirty. Sometimes with a clay pistol.  I made a bunch of those too.

The current, Menyama MP, Benjamin Phillip, worked at the Anga Development Company…agency… I can’t remember.

Menyamya is where I met Uncle Moses and Aunty Ronda. They were  a couple from the Hetwara, who eventually ended up staying a while at the Haus Boi at the back of the Haus Kiap where we lived. My dad was the district administrator.  Once when I got annoyed with my baby sister,  Uncle Moses, gave me stern advice in his heavy Hetwara accent about the importance of sisters.  It stuck forever. We still have a picture of them somewhere.

Menyama taught me the importance of agriculture and self-reliance.

We ate duck and chicken eggs every day. Duck eggs were larger.  I think a dozen cost K2-K3 We had honey and chickens.   The government DPI station produced it.  They also grew sheep and a few cows.  Those guys were experts.

I eventually bred Muscovy ducks myself. The ducklings were pretty.  Occasionally, a drake would drop by at the pond a bulldozer had dug in the middle stretch of grass were houses have now been built.

Gewe’s dad was a DPI officer, highly skilled in coffee, cardamom and other cash crops.   Talk about food security and commodities, we had right there.

There is so much to tell. I’m getting a bit nostalgic.  Maybe there will be a part 2. I don’t know.

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3 comments on “Straight outta Menyamya: Clay pistols, pine needle slides and real people

  1. Daniel Doyle

    What a wonderful childhood story. Although I never made it to Menyama during my 4 decades in PNG, your story brought to life how happy one can be with what in western society would be considered so little.

    Like

  2. This is truly arousing my spirit as the true son of the Kukuku land- Menyamya!

    Like

  3. Laben Sakale John

    Thankyou brother for writing about Menyamya, the place I call home

    Like

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