The organizer of a cultural festival in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands, Saina Jeffrey, said the community was bouncing back from February’s earthquake. He was pleased that the region was able to host the three-day Kutubu Kundu and Digaso Festival, which took place from September 21-23, 2018. This was the festival’s eighth year running, and the local host was determined to make it happen despite the damage and devastation they suffered from the February earthquake.
Ms Jeffrey said the 7.5 magnitude quake was a disaster for the more than 40 villages that participated in the festival. The Kutubu area experienced a number of deaths, and houses and gardens were destroyed. Daga Village, where the festival was hosted, lost its traditional Kutubu long haus, which was one of the star attractions at this festival. These buildings surround the outdoor area where the event takes place and provides a festival setting like no other in PNG said Ms Jeffrey. “There is no fence or any white man’s roofing around it, nothing of any Western style around it. It’s just all natural, the surrounding is natural and beautiful.”
Ms Jeffrey said the festival was an opportunity to show the resilience of their culture and traditions, and to earn some money. “The festival itself is still seen as an opportunity for the communities to stand together, rise up and say – we have to come together to do something to survive, to get ourselves back on track,” said Jeffrey.
The Mineral Resources Development Company threw its support behind the festival. Despite setbacks, the locals with the help of the festival organizing committee had rebuilt the long haus and their homes to prepare to host the festival and its visitors.
This year’s festival had the theme Yumi mas kirapim bek yumi yet” (We must raise ourselves), which calls for all earthquake affected communities to come together and strive for restoration and resilience after the earthquake.
MRDC general manager Imbi Tagune, presented a cheque of K50,000 to the festival committee on behalf of managing director Augustine Mano. “This year’s festival only goes to show the resilience of our people who have suffered the devastating impact of an earthquake yet have the strength and courage to pick themselves up, to restore their lives just six months since the quake hit.”
Tagune commended the committee and the people of Kutubu for their determination to host and share their culture and heritage to visitors to the festival, despite their losses. “MRDC has been with the people through the devastation of the quake, assisting and providing relief food, water and medical aid to the people, and by supporting the festival we want to help bring normalcy to their lives.”
The Kutubu Kundu and Digaso Festival celebrates more than 40 different indigenous cultures who come together to celebrate the importance of the Kundu drum and the trade of the Digaso oil in the traditional culture of the Kutubu people. It also plays a vital role in safeguarding traditional practices and the diverse biodiversity of the Lake Kutubu region.