The Kopkop College in Port Moresby celebrated its Cultural Day last Friday in style and colour. The theme for the day was ‘Embracing our cultures for dynamic nation building.’
There to celebrate the day was special guest of honour, Steven Enomb Kilanda of the National Cultural Commission (NCC).
Mr Kilanda told the students, teachers and parents that celebrating culture, especially in education was the right path to the future.
He said Tourism, Arts & Culture Minister Hon Emil Tammur wanted to drive cultural education right around the country to ensure every young person grows up imbued not only with christian principles but with their traditional cultural values that gives them their identity.
He said The Constitution united the diverse cultures and traditions of the many tribes of Papua New Guinea under one flag and one country.
Mr Kilanda said: “The very first line in our Constitution says, and I quote: we the people of Papua New Guinea, united in one nation, pay homage to the memory of our ancestors, the source of our strength and origin of our combined heritage, acknowledge the worthy customs and traditional wisdoms of our people, pledge ourselves to guard and pass on to those who come after us our noble traditions and the Christian principles that are ours now.”
“It is with these words that the different cultures of so many tribes agreed to unite under one flag and one name – Papua New Guinea. It is with these words that we brought our past together to unite and face a common future.”
He said it was also crucial that although united, each culture must retain its identity and for others to recognize and respect each other’s unique ways and customs.
“Such respect begins in our education system, at schools such as Kopkop,” Kilanda said.
“It is when each of us understands the importance of culture in our lives that we can contribute meaningfully to help preserve and promote each separate culture.”
Mr Kilanda said the Minister will soon be announcing a Cultural Policy which will emphasise cultural education. Through it, schools will participate in quizzes, debates, competitions and much more.
Mr Kilanda said he wanted students to get rid of the perception that cultural activities was old fashioned and was irrelevant to modern day life.
“You are wrong when you think like that,” he said.
“The country of Malaysia exports timber, tin, oil and gas and many manufactured goods. But its biggest income comes from tourists going to visit the country. Our neighbor in the Pacific, Fiji takes more money from tourism than all other exports combined.
“And one of the things people go to see is the different cultures, arts and crafts of the people. Our bilums are now becoming an export market. Soon, other arts and crafts, what we call our tangible culture will be in demand.
“Our music, our songs and dance, our legends, what we call our intangible culture, what we cannot see and touch, all of these can bring in so much money for our country if promoted right.
Kopkop Executive Director Maria Kopkop said: “If we are to stand in support of our Prime Minister’s philosophy to “take back PNG”, then the answer lies in education and training for all.
She said: “We have come this far in 44 years, yet we have a long way yet to go. It is time now to ask ourselves what we have learnt from the past years. Have we learnt the differences between a good and a bad citizen by using our cultural norms by embracing culture for dynamic nation building?”