The Goroka Show [i]

21 09 2010

Goroka is a major town in Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea, with a history of gold-mining, coffee plantations, and missionaries.

Shy Eyes

The Show began in 1957 for entertainment purposes, an excuse to dress up and show off for the local communities. It was originally organised by Australian Kiaps – multi-functional administrative officers posted to remote locations.

The show’s popularity grew along with the range and diversity of performing singsing groups. Now it’s a major cultural event and draws tourists (with their bloody enormous camera lenses) from all over the world.

This celebration really is an all-out assault on the senses (apart from maybe the nasal one).

The Asaro Mud Men Cometh (with weighty helmets)

Friday: there was no big hype or build-up. The performers simply began parading slowly into the arena. The Asaro Mud Men were one of the first groups. They are legendary in part because they are so different to all the other groups.

Pretty soon, there were too many groups to keep up with, and there didn’t seem to be any logic as to where they were placed, so you just had to keep flitting from one side to the other in order not to miss any…

Enga Tribeswomen

One of the excellent things about the singsing groups, apart from the amazing costumes, decorations and rhythms, is how they encompass all generations and genders. No cherry-picking the young ‘good-looking’ ones here as you’ll see (although I accidentally cherry-picked a few oops!) – a refreshing change from our Western obsession with young slappers did I say slappers I meant attractive people.

Fun-Time Dudes!

On the down-side, I hate to think how many wonderful birds of paradise, sicklebills, and riflebirds were sacrificed for our pleasure. Feathers are handed down the generations, but still… didn’t bother some tourists who bought bunches of feathers from market traders. How they’ll get them past customs I have no idea.

Friday was a nice day to be there because there weren’t too many tourists and it was easy to mingle among the groups. Saturday was a different matter.

You can't beat a good smile

It was hot, but luckily I’d covered up having got burnt through the window of the bus on the way up. THROUGH THE BLOODY WINDOW! Actually the window was non-existent, having been previously smashed by raskals haha!

From the Grandstand on Friday

A thoroughly enjoyable day that gave one a real appreciation for the pride, power, and passion of Papua New Guineans (the three ‘P’s)

A Shading Kiddly