Transformation Scene: The Changing Culture of a New Guinea Village

Transformation Scene: The Changing Culture of a New Guinea Village

Transformation Scene: The Changing Culture of a New Guinea Village

Transformation Scene: The Changing Culture of a New Guinea Village

Excerpt

'They brought the elephant of Asia to convey the artillery of Europe to dethrone one of the kings of Africa, and to hoist the standard of Saint George upon the mountain of Rasselas.'--BENJAMIN DISRAELI, moving a vote of thinks in the House of Commons to Sir Robert Napier's army after the Abys. sinian campaign in 1868.

THIS is a descriptive study of the village of Busama, which is situated on the upper part of the west coast of the Huon Gulf, north-eastern New Guinea. I have known it well since 1944, at the height of the recent war, when the people were suffering acute hardships. Their dwellings had been bombed, their goods destroyed, their livestock killed, and their agricultural work suspended. Not until the beginning of 1950 was physical rehabilitation complete and the settlement normal.

But the clash of the opposing armies was not the natives' first taste of the modern world. Europeans entered the area before 1900, and for two generations the old way of life was being steadily modified. Government officers stamped out raiding and introduced a different set of laws; missionaries preached the Christian religion and established a church and a school; labour recruiters took the young men away to work in distant places; and traders operated stores in the neighbouring towns where cash earned as wages could be exchanged for tools more effective than those made of stone and volcanic glass.

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