Ever dreamt about escaping the ordinary and just for once in your life, witnessing something completely different from what we grasp as normal? Experiencing a cultural show in Papua New Guinea was a dream come true. As our guide drove us further away from civilization, a stunning scenery of green luscious mountain hilltops unfolded in front of us. “Wow, this is so beautiful. Is this what the world used to look like before it became industrialized?” The car is getting closer to the village, people is waving and smiling at us as we drive by. We reach our destination, and are greeted by two women and two girls. One of the girls is holding a knife in her hand. What a friendly welcome, no not worried at all. Me and Morten look at each other, and we both have the same “yikes” on our faces. Please god, don’t tell me this is a village of cannibals.
Our guide goes to park the car, and tells us to follow the women. We can hear drums, and our eyes sparkle with excitement. Is this actually happening? I feel like a child about to open her first Christmas present. My heart is racing and all I wanna do is run towards the sound of the drums. The sound is getting louder, the pace is getting faster and we can hear distinct sound of singing. We walk 100 meters, and we catch our first glimpse of one of the performers. My jaw fell to the ground. Beautiful headpieces covered in colorful feathers, red body paint, yellow flowers around their arms. The women are topless, and only covered with a pink skirt made by the Sago plant. The men have a cloth to cover their private parts, with tasles around their ankles. The villagers of the Haliku tribe show us to a couple of tree logs under the shade, where we could sit and enjoy the show.
“What exactly is a sing sing and what are they singing about?” We ask our guide. “A sing sing is a dance and song about everyday life. They come together and sing about motherhood, fatherhood, about life in the village. The birds, the bees and the insects. They sing about life and death. Every village has a different sing sing, with different costumes and clothing.” The guide goes on to explain that a village will have a sing sing for different celebrations, like when a boy in the age of 14-16, leaves boyhood and enters adulthood. Every year there is a big cultural performance in Mt. Hagan for 3 weeks where all the villagers come together, and put on one extraordinary show. This is your best chance of seeing the different tribes, and the different sing sing. As I sit and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience, I promise myself that I will come back in a year or two to experience the annual sing sing.
This man was one the most energetic performers. To quote the guide “when they first start, they won’t stop.” We were worried that because we payed for a private show, they would feel forced to perform. But they loved it, the show went on and on because they genuinely love to show their culture to visitors. The Haliku tribe takes great pride in their heritage. And we can see why. It really is something emotional to encounter people who are so in touch with their culture, and lives in harmony with nature. The culture of Papua New Guineans is special. It’s different from what we know. In this world that we live in, and take so for granted, where we are so preoccupied with social media and materialistic things, it’s beautiful to see that there still exists communities where social interactions is more important, than materialistic items, like a cellphone. Papua New Guinea has without a doubt found a special place in my heart.
A part of the womens costumes consists of body jewelry made of shells, horns of a wild hog, flowers in their hair and yellow plants as an arm bracelet. This little girl is concentrating on the guide as he tells them where we’re from.