About Busong Village

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Celebrating Birthdays in Papua New Guinea

Celebrating a birth day in Papua New Guinea is a unique experience. It involves everyone that has some sort of relationship with that person. In the village, celebrating birthdays can involve the whole village and extended family members from the neighboring villages and even from the nearby town(s). This is true if the child comes from an important family in the village. Maybe a child of a village leader, a successful farmer (coffee, cocoa) with extra cash to spend or a family with sons and daughters working in towns throughout Papua New Guinea.
The food and entertainment used in this setting will be quite different from the town folks. It will definitely include some basic goods purchased from the town (which may include rice, flour, sugar, coffee, tea, biscuits and so on). However, local foods taken fresh from the gardens, forest and sea are made available in abundance at the celebration. Guests at the feast may present gifts or place money in a designated container which will then be given to the local church as an offering to God.

In the urban areas (cities, towns) of Papua New Guinea, birthdays are celebrated in a more modern context but with Papua New Guinea flavor. Guests invited to the birthday party may include next door neighbors and their children, work mates and their children and wantoks (people from the same Province, District or Village) and their children. The venue of the feast is also taken into account.

The celebration can take place at the family's home, a family members residence or the family may decide to celebrate in a restaurant or a public space established by the government for various events. In Port Moresby, citizens have the option of renting a space at the Nature Park for various celebrations. The host must also consider food and refreshment for children and adults. Refreshment for adults will mostly include alcohol (wine and beer) for those who consume alcohol. The children will be given sweets (lollies, candies and so on) and depends on the host, little activities that will keep them occupied. The adults will most likely sit in their little groups drinking alcohol and chewing betelnut (Areca nut chewed with lime-a PNG favorite). The food can be quite varied and you will most likely see a whole roasted pork (pig is important in PNG culture). All the cooked food and refreshments are arranged neatly in order on tables setup for this purpose. A member of the family will be appointed to make a speech on behalf of the family and also welcome the guests. The guests and children are served first. There is no limit to the number of times you can line up at the table to be served again if you are still hungry as long as there is food available on the tables.

Baby Mende who celebrated his first birthday at my house at the University of Papua New Guinea on Saturday, 22nd of September inspired me to write this story. His birthday coincided with the Papua New Guinea Independence celebration on Wednesday( 19th September) so the family decided to hold the party on Saturday. As the uncle of baby Mende, I have to try my utmost best to ensure his birthday party is a success. Baby Mende's birthday party was quite a huge success however, when it came to giving speech I have to ask my cousin brother to do it on my behalf because I was too shy.

And most importantly a birthday party without a birthday cake is not a birthday party.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cocoa Industry at Labuta Local Level Government Area, Morobe Province.


Cocoa is a cash crop that has been introduced into the country during the colonial days. It is now widely grown throughout the Coastal Provinces of Papua New Guinea. Small holder farmers grow cocoa plants from around 50 trees up to 500 trees that generate good income for the farmer.
Villagers in Busong Village ( Labuta LLG, of Nawaeb District, Morobe Province) for years have tried various cash crops such as coconut (copra), robusta coffee (a coffee variety suitable for lowlands) and recently vanilla to generate income for themselves. All these cash crops failed one after another due to various reasons. Some these factors include, low prices at the world market, a lot of work involved in preparing these crops for selling and lack of basic knowledge to mange these cash crops. In recent years a lot of effort has been put into training local farmers and importing hybrid seedlings from Rabaul. A former employee of one of the cocoa plantation in Rabaul decided to help his people from Busong, Buingim and Wedilu Villagers by supplying them with hybrid cocoa seedlings. He also assisted in establishing nurseries in these villages as well as showing them how to grow them.

Fig.1.0 Hybrid Cocoa Tree.(Busong Village)

Growing and Caring for the cocoa plants.

In order for a single cocoa tree to yield healthy cocoa pods, a lot of effort has to be put into regularly cleaning the cocoa plot and pruning the trees. Constant check for cocoa diseases such as black pod is very crucial for the farmers.

Fig.2.0 Cocoa plot (Busong Village)

Preparing Cocoa Beans for Selling

Ania Kaiwa family from Busong Village owned a small portable cocoa fermentery (Cocoa Bean Dryer) whereby cocoa beans are fermented in big wooden boxes for a few days and then the beans are dried using heat from fire and then dried in the sun. The family fermentery was funded by Gaming Board of PNG. (The Gaming Board also purchased a 75 horse power Yamaha  marine engine with a banana boat and a Lucas Sawmill for the villagers to process timbers for sale or to build their own houses).

 Fig.3.0 Cocoa farmers checking dried cocoa beans. (Busong Village)

The family also purchase wet beans from the neighboring villages in the Labuta Local Level Government (About 10 Villages) and they hope to expand their operations to other parts of the Province. The family business produces about 15 bags of dried cocoa beans at a time to be transported to Lae to be sold to Agmark (At this stage Agmark is the only buyer and exporter of cocoa beans in Lae).

Transporting Cocoa Beans to the Market.

Transport is another obstacle faced by cocoa farmers to transport their cocoa beans to Lae. As a result motorized dinghies or banana boats are utilized to transport bags of cocoa beans to Lae. This method of transport is quite expensive because the engines consume a lot of petrol (zoom).

Fig.4.0 Bags of Cocoa Beans unloaded at Voco Point_Lae.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Demised of Mumeng Town

Patep Village. Road leading to Boang
Mumeng town, a once flourishing town from the colonial times up to the 80's has since disappeared completely from the face of the earth. This town provided a vital service in Bulolo District were locals and Papua New Guineans enjoy living and working there. The town provided a much needed stop- over for weary passengers travelling to and  fro from Lae, Bulolo, Wau and Menyamya. However, what exactly caused the town to disappear? The cause of the disappearance of Mumeng town is the Kumalu River. When a visitor hears the name 'Kumalu River', he or she may quickly assume that the river is very big like Markham River, Sepik River or the Fly River to completely destroy a town. In fact Kumalu River cannot be classified as a river. It is more like a stream in most cases. What makes this river a legend and feared by the locals and visitors a- like? Well, Kumalu River for one, does not flow like an ordinary river. It carries mud and huge rocks that completely shuts down the Bulolo Highway.Many unfortunate vehicles were victims of the Kumalu River. The Kumalu River also brought a number of changes to the area. One of them is the creation of a new lake. The lake was formed from three other rivers 'Zenag, Boang and the other river (possibly Patep river). These three rivers were blocked by debris, rocks and mud from Kumalu River.This has completely cut off access to Patep village and Boang villages. To adapt, the villagers started building canoes to transport people and cargoes across the lake. The owners of the canoes charge a small fee for passengers to pay. The canoe operators do not operate at the same time. According to a verbal agreement, a number of canoes operate at a specific time. The reason is that, this would prevent certain canoes from taking advantage of others, especially very big canoes that have the capacity to carry more passengers and cargoes.
Passengers waiting to cross by canoe
Passengers transported across the lake
This machine clears the river 24 hours a day.
Trucks waiting to cross Kumalu

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gold Mining in Bulolo District, Morobe Province, PNG

.DSCN0320Fig.1.0 Gold miners hard at work I spent five weeks (July 30- August 30, 2012) supervising trainee teachers at two primary schools in Bulolo District of Morobe Province.These two schools are Sambio Primary School and Mumeng Primary. While I was up there, I was fortunate to visit villagers mining gold on their land. The small scale gold miners earn good money from gold that the other traditional aspects of their village life have dramatically changed. For instance, most villagers spend more time mining gold and less time spent on making gardens. This has drastically affected fresh food supply in their area. There are more people buying food as a result the demand for vegetables and other garden food has increased.
Further, the important cash crops such as coffee and vanilla have also been neglected. They found that they earn more from selling gold than cash crops.
For example, at the end of the week, a miner can earn up to K2000 which is more than a fortnightly salary of a public servant or a teacher.

However, mining gold has its share of problems as well. The first that came to mind is the issue of safety. I was able to witness the miners working in dangerous situation by digging in a man- made tunnel which was about several meters long. These miners do not wear safety gears such as helmets, boots and other emergency equipment.I was told that a number of deaths have already occurred in the past in Sambio Village as a result of the man- made tunnels collapsing and burying the unfortunate miners alive. The other issue is that mining gold is a physical work that requires hours of digging and at the end of the day the miners are exhausted.

 On a lighter note, a police patrol from Bulolo politely asked a group of young men digging gold on the Bulolo Highway to stop fearing that the road will disappear if they continue to dig for gold. The young miners obliged and moved to a different location along the Bulolo River.

The positive impact of small scale mining in this area is quite obvious. The villagers have constructed good quality houses and have furnished them with furniture purchased from Lae and Bulolo. The houses have electricity, thanks to the Member for Bulolo's Rural Electricfication program and surplus money earned from selling gold. 



Fig. 2.0. Local method for extracting gold.

Fig.3.0 Gravel packed in bags in preparation for processing using water.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Celebrating Christmas: Busong Style

Village people in rural Papua New Guinea may lack basic moderrn entertainment activities that the city folks take for granted in the urban centers of PNG. However, rural Papua New Guineans are very creative. They put all their energy and time into creating or inventing ideas/projects that bring enjoyment to the whole village.

Fig.1.0 Christmas boat
In Busong Village, a small hamlet a few kilometers from the city of Lae, the village boys spend hours or even days contructing Christmas boats and bonfires for Christmas and new year celebration. The Christmas boats are constructed on the mouth of Busong River and towed to the village. The boys spend days sleeping and cooking in the boat leading up to the new year celebrations. 
The bonfire is constructed on rafts using bamboos, logs and dry coconut leaves and also on tall trees on top of the mountain at the back of the village. The idea is to make the fire visible to the neighboring villages and even people in Lae.

Fig.2.0 Busong Village

Fig.3.0 Village Church

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Busong Village is a small coastal village in NAWAEB District, Labuta Local Level Government Area, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea.The only way to reach the village is travel by outboard motor which takes 1 to 2 hours approximate.

The purpose of this page is promote Busong Village and other villages in Morobe Province and Papua New Guinea. General isuses,environment, social, cultural activities will be promoted on this page.

Traditional Outrigger Canoe.

This is our means of transport. This canoe has designs that depicts our legends. They represent sea creatures and legendary creatures.The traditional colour used by our artists are red, black and white. The ingredients for the traditional paints consist of roots, barks of trees, lime, crushed rocks and water.

Thankyou for visiting this page.