O’Neill farewelled not welcomed at Panguna Arnold Jameson

5 02 2014

Police await the PMs arrival at Panguna (Photo: New Dawn)
Police await the PMs arrival at Panguna (Photo: New Dawn)
So much was said in the media about the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill’s ’Good Will’ visit to the No-Go-Zone area at Panguna, with a bunch of media personnel as his eyewitnesses to report back to the world, so that’s pretty much what the world heard and read.

What the media doesn’t know, and so won’t tell you is that Mr O’Neil was not welcomed but rather fare-welled upon arrival at Central Bougainville’s Panguna mine site area.

This, as everyone else and the ‘big men and women chiefs’ on the ground said is because Mr O’Neill probably couldn’t understand or read the sign that said ‘No-Go Zone’ which after three meetings the night before, nagged his way into Panguna. He was given permission to pass through the checkpoint at 1am on that day.

Now pay attention. A normal Central Bougainville welcome is as follows;

For any ordinary new comer, the people will dance and splash water onto that person(s), then rub their faces with the famous local Kieta delicacy ‘tamatama’.

In the case of ‘big men/women, chiefs or leaders’ with higher statuses in society, they get to be seated on pigs, and if they cannot, they walk in front of a pig to symbolize the person is being carried on the pig. Water is also splashed on them and the tamatama rubbed onto their faces.

However, sadly enough, Mr O’Neil got none of the two welcoming ceremonies mentioned above. He was said to be welcomed with a ’Torotoro’ song/chant, meaning, a made up song, just to tell Mr O’Neil about their frustrations, sung in a frustrating tone.

The people rolled a mat for him to walk on, a mat that symbolizes the rolling up of a dead person before they are put into the ground. Moreover, instead of water being splashed onto Mr O’Neil, he was oiled, as is done to bodies of dead people in preparation for burial.

There was not a pig leading his way, except for the ones that were given with the food (as photographed and shown in the Newspapers), symbolizing the feast to end the moaning of a deceased person after burial.

Even more amusing, the principle landowners of the Panguna mine site did not actively participate, nor were they involved in the ceremonies. The people who were actively involved were from the hinterlands of Panguna, particularly the Panka villagers.

The message may be very clear but Mr O’Neil and his team had not a clue, as the people of Bougainville stood and watched him go through the rest of the ceremony ‘smiling’.

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