Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Equal Opportunity in the Highlands?

Some time ago, I wandered around the Southern Highlands of PNG. The Highland regions are densley populated and are among some of the last tribal areas to come in contact with Westerners in the world. Clan warfare is still commonplace, to the extent that during the last general elections in 2002, some serious, permanent damage was sustained in Clan fighting to the majority of the amenities in the major centre of Tari.

The Huli men live in the Tari Valley and it is the Warriors of this region that intrigue me about the Highlands of PNG. I was fortunate to spend some time with the Huli people and learn about their way of life. Men and Women still, rarely live together and the children are raised seperately when it is deemed that they themselves are aware if they are a boy or a girl. The Huli men spend a great deal of time preparing for war and defence of their clans.

So it seemed odd to me that recently in Port Moresby I witnessed a traditional Huli Sing-sing group perform, and I noted that attached to the end of the row of brightly painted, dancing Huli men, there danced a trio of young girls. On their faces were the looks of caution as many white tourists took photographs of the entire Sing-sing group.

My gut feeling was that these three girls were experiencing life for the first time in a city like Port Moresby and were most likely witnessing such a large group of white people for their very first time. The Huli people have a simple yet seductive dance that draws the audience in. It would be a truly terrifying spectacle to see a full clan of Huli men preparing for warfare.

I plan on visiting the Huli people again, I may have to wait until the end of these 2007 elections before doing so.

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