Posts Categorized: Buin

Solar power revolutionises village life in Kaitu

By Benjamin Heribeths

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The introduction of solar panels has changed the lives of the people of Kaitu village in the Buin District of South Bougainville.

Since the end of the Bougainville crisis, Kaitu, a village in the Upper Konnou area of Buin, was dependant on small generators for power.

There are no stores or service stations nearby and the Kaitu people travelled to Buin town to look for petrol to power their generators, would incurring a great cost looking for vehicle or spending many hours walking.

They would walk over four kilometres from their small village to the main road to look for a vehicle and at night they would walk all the way back to their villages hauling their goods, particularly difficult for women, children and the elderly.

The small community started purchasing solar panels for their villages as an alternative source of power.

They are using the panels in many different ways, such as to charge their cellular phones for communication and to power florescent tubes for lighting.

“Families in the community are benefiting in many different ways,” said Moses Nukaia, a Kaitu local.

Mr Nukaia stated that the people are now spending less money because they are using sunlight for power.

Their next target is to purchase invertors so that they can use freezers in their houses.

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Tabago trade adversely affected by road condition

By Benjamin Heribeths

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The people of Tabago are feeling the effects of poor road conditions, which is effecting their ability to trade goods.

The main road in Buin is in a bad condition with potholes developing, which have been compared to lagoons.

For the Tabago people there are no vehicles to transport their goods to the market. Currently there is only one open back land cruiser that is willing to transport the people to Buin town to do their shopping and other things.

The Sunday market in Tabago was also discontinued earlier in the year ensure observance of the Sabbath.

Justin Kenkua is the person who is owning only the vehicle in Tabago area especially Ligo. He spends most of his time transporting passengers with his vehicle.

Justin works in the Buin district office and so his only free time is on Saturdays.

There have been many accidents recently so he decided to be strict with traffic rules and safety.

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The power of nature on display as Loluai River blocks travellers

By Benjamin Heribeths

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The Loluai River, the biggest river in Buin, blocked the road for travellers all the way from Buin and Siwai, due to a heavy downpour.

The heavy rain also swept a small home with couple of houses in Wakunai. The road, which is so treacherous in Wakunai and Buin, delays the arrival of traveller at their destinations.

Passengers from nearby villages in the Kieta frontier were worried about what had happened and the current of the river was so strong that it swept away all the gravel until nothing was left but big stones that no vehicles can pass through.

Highway drivers spent time clearing a new route to avoid the blockade, but not before some passengers travelling to the airport missed their flight due to the natural blockade.

After one day the road was cleared and now vehicles returned to travel the route between Buin and Siwai.

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One regular driver stated that the nearby villages must take extra precautions due to the fact that accidents can happened while they are asleep late at night.

“If the rain doesn’t stop we will have more trouble,” he said.

Drivers and the passengers were also worried that this treacherous road can lead to heavy car breakdowns, which are expensive to repair.

Changes to weather patterns and the climate is causing the inconveniences throughout Bougainville.

“We may raise concerns but it is beyond our limit to control the nature that comes in its own ways,” said one passenger.

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The story of selfless Napio

By Pauline Karalus

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At the young age of 13, Napio was served the double blow when his father passed away and, in the family politicking that followed, he lost all the rights to the inheritance bequeathed to him.

Napio is the only boy in a family of five and grew up with his four sisters and mother.

Napio’s Dad was the first born in his family and so most of the family customary land was his.

He had several cocoa plantations where he would dry up to six bags a month. Despite the fact that he was a subsistence farmer, the family heavily relied on his earnings more than the mother’s, who taught at the local primary school.

He earned much and the villagers envied him, but he never rejected a request from people who wanted help from him. He would help anyone in cash or kind, comfort or prayer whenever they needed it.

Having such a wonderful supporting wife and five lovely kids was a blessing from the Lord. His sudden passing shattered the hearts of his wife and children into pieces. This was a sad beginning of a new chapter in life for the family.

Napio, being the only boy in the family, was traumatized at the loss of his role model even years after his dad’s death. He changed from being that smiling playful boy to that quiet boy who enjoys his own company, who loves not being involved in any conversation.

With growing concern, his mum tried everything to make him socialize with the other kids his age, but Napio only wanted to be alone, a decision his mum ultimately respected.

He was still a young boy and so he was unable to cultivate all the land his late father had left him. His family had to move to the place his mother’s people to help her emotional recovery and it was difficult to keep an eye on his inheritance.

As the years went by, Napio grew in to a kind and gentle man. He returned home to his land, which was now occupied by his uncles and wouldn’t hand it back to him. He tried every possible way to get the land back, but was unsuccessful in his efforts.

A bright student, Napio successfully completed grade 10 in year 2010 with his younger sister. His sister continued on to grade 11, but he went for short courses down at Moramora Technical College in West New Britain province.

Upon completion of his studies, he got a job there and helped his Mum to pay for his sister’s tuition fees. He worked for a while and then chose to return to Buin, to stay with his mother and helping her out at home he had to move back to Buin.

He now stays at home and manages his trade store and helps raise funds for his siblings’ fees.

Up to this day he still stays at his mum’s place and continues to cultivate what little land has left for him.

To Napio, land is not the most important thing, he feels complete with his family.

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Okunu – a celebration of life and survival in Buin

804-buin-bougainvilleBy Pauline Karalus

While many Bougainvillean customs and traditions of have vanished over time, one celebration of life and survival continues to be practiced in Buin, South Bougainville.

Buin locals are closely attached to customs and traditions governing their clans and their customary land in which their entire life depends on. With respect and the greater fear of punishment from Gods and Goddesses, strict obedience to rituals and customs practices continues up to this very day.

With the introduction of Christianity, many of these traditions, customs and beliefs have become viewed as in conflict with Christian beliefs. A large portion have been erased over time according to the direction of elderly clan chiefs, though the ones that remain are distinguished and closely attached to the people’s lives. Some of these traditions, however finally reached their era of extinction, because of a failure to have been passed down onto younger generations from the elderly tribespeople.

The Buin people still practice many of their customs and rituals with pride still, up to this day. Arranged marriages, rituals and initiations performed to signify reaching a certain stage of manhood or womanhood in life and many more others still exist up to today. In the Buin culture it is the elderly tribes’ people’s job to make sure they pass on necessary traditions to the ones capable of being charge before they get too old and die.

Okunu is a ritual performed after the survival of tragic accidents, where one survives death where its seems impossible. Examples of such tragic accidents include falling off trees whilst hunting, overcoming a period of unknown paralysis, surviving a long-term sickness or disease and even recovering from large wounds from fights or accidents.

As soon as the person show signs of recovery, a special piece of cloth gets tied around the wrist. In the ancient times, in substitute of the piece of cloth a large lengthy piece of rope woven from bush ropes gets tied around the neck and is worn around as a necklace until the day of the Okunu.

During the day of Okunu, the celebrated gets seated on a decorated platform where a leader from his or her clan gets to say a few words first and then upon the witness of everyone he cuts the rope or the piece of cloth responded to by whistling and screams of happiness and joy from the crowd.

This ritual symbolizes the joy of the relatives because that particular person is being allowed to spend some more time with their beloveds. Multiple pigs are slain and a feast is served to celebrate the victory of surviving tragic events. The person whom the Okunu feast is conducted sits decorated in traditional garments as relatives and friends stand in queues to shake hands and present their gifts.

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Kangu roadworks the latest development in Buin

By Pauline Karalus

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A massive development was launched in South Bougainville in late June as construction commenced on the Kangu road. The trunk road was scheduled to start operations during July.

Equipment was transported to the development site on the Kangu road, which leads out from Buin’s main shopping center in a south-easterly direction towards the sea down to the famous Kangu Beach. Here a small wharf caters to ferries that bring cargo for store owners and other Buin businesses.

The road is more commonly used by the people of Laguai and Malabita and it will also make it easier for neighboring Solomon Islanders who bring goods to trade at the market.

Amidst ongoing reconciliations between local tribes and clans who have had unstable relations in past years, the developments within the region remain the autonomous government’s priority.

Existing schools have been undergoing renovations alongside the establishment of new government and non-government schools in remote areas.

Education seems to be the government’s first priority and the poor road conditions affect the ability of students, teachers and other people to travel to schools.

Remote districts are widely recognized as the least developed parts of the island. Frequent visits from non-government officials and tourists have dramatically changed the mindset of the locals towards appreciating and allowing development to progress and contribute towards sustainable livelihoods of Buin locals.

Despite the everyday law and order problems that still occur, Buin people have showed interest in allowing development to take hold in their region.

Buin, often referred to as a cowboy town, hosts the main shopping center for the people of the three districts of the southern tip of Bougainville.

In recent years it has seen great private and government developments. by both business and the government wise over the last how many years after the cease fire. An increase in the number of locally owned trade stores and buildings belonging to various sectors of the government has noticeably raised the standard of the town vicinity.

Within the town area, just a few meters away from the shopping center, is the Buin Police Station, which contains a few cells where inmates are kept according to the level of crime they have committed.

Regardless of several attempts and threats from locals, Buin Police Officers continue to work together as a team and reduce the number of crimes committed everyday by applying the law.

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Supply and quality drive cocoa price fluctuations in Buin

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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Fluctuating cocoa prices are creating uncertainty amongst farmers in Buin District.

Buin is the widest part of Bougainville Island and most of the cocoa trees and plantations om autonomous region were found in this area.

About a month ago the price of cocoa in Buin spiked, rising from K400/bag to K600/bag, causing local farmers to earn a good amount of money and see a significant outcome of their hard work.

The two main cocoa buyers in Buin are Bernard Kepa, a local business man, and Agmark, the oldest cocoa buyer. With a notable increase in supply of cocoa, the two buyers have lowered their prices, first to K500/bag then K490/bag, which upset farmers throughout Buin.

Farmers are now worried and some have hesitated to bring dried cocoa beans to Buin and instead are loading trucks destined for Arawa, where they hope to find a higher price.

In Arawa, the current price is K535/bag and farmers have rushed all the way from Buin to sell their cocoa bags.

The most affected farmers were from the mountains of Buin, who are the most recent to start drying cocoa as they have a later season. The season starts from the coast and then reaches the mountains last. Farmers from the mountains were just about to sell their first dried bags, but the price drop has left them fuming.

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“The drop in the price may have couple of reasons,” said Konnou Council of Elders chairman Mr Masiu.

Mr Masiu stated that the cocoa sheds in Buin were full last week and they are booking personal houses to store the bags; that might be one of the reasons.

The buyers may also have dropped their prices to reflect a lack of quality in the cocoa market.

The two major cocoa byers have advised local farmers to sell their best quality product to maintain the price. Low quality cocoa beans may cause inconvenience, which makes the product less valuable to the buyers.

 

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Muc Pata – The tradition of mourning in Buin

By Pauline Karalus

Muc Pata is the name given to the ritual that is performed after the burial of dead people. This is the most common tradition still practiced by the people of Buin District.

When a certain clan member dies and is buried, the immediate relatives of that particular person are forbidden to have access to their gardens or even bush walks unless there is a Muc Pata conducted after a specified number of days of mourning and sympathizing for the loss of their beloved.

During the mourning period the gardens get covered by the bushes and food crops get spoilt by weather or the animals looking for feeding grounds to help themselves. In total silence the gardens await for their owners to come and get them cleaned as soon as their mourning period comes to its end.

It takes up to a maximum of three weeks for the immediate relatives to stay at home and mourn the loss. On the second or third week of mourning, villagers gather at a venue and set off in large groups to the bush or the rivers in search of protein.

Protein gathered during Muc Pata is brought to the immediate relatives place, cooked on large pots and distributed amongst the villagers.

Muc Pata has its governing rules that villagers have to go by accordingly. The proteins gathered have to be cooked when it is still daylight. It is believed that if the preparation of the meal is delayed and feasting takes place when it is dark then another person from the clan will die and thus it is the spirits way of communicating with them whether another death is nearby or not.

Failure to perform Muc Pata after death and burial also results in another death just a few weeks after. The governing principles of Muc Pata are never disobeyed as it is a belief that breaking any of these principles will always result in another death, which signifies the punishments of the spirits upon them.

Bougainvillean customs and traditions differ so much from the rest of the country. With the influx of western cultured it is feared that traditional customs will come to extinction and, indeed, some already have

A very large portion of these traditional beliefs and practices have been done away with either because they are against Christian faith or because they are not seen as fitting in with contemporary society. Most have reached their era of extinction because they have not been passed on by the elderly tribes’ people.

The Buin people of the southern region of Bougainville still practice most of their customs and rituals with pride. Arranged marriages, rituals and initiations performed to signify reaching a certain stage of manhood or womanhood in life and many more others still exist up to today. In the Buin culture it is the elderly tribes’ people’s job to make sure they pass on necessary traditions to the ones capable of being charge before they get too old and die.

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New Tabago mission house to be funded through games

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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Tabago Parish in Buin, South Bougainville is preparing to host a games festival to raise funds for a new mission house.

There are plans for the new mission house to be constructed opposite the huge church building, since the old one is derelict and must be dismantled.

The new mission house will be used especially by priests, church workers, sisters, and other lay workers of the parish.

Community fundraising was also crucial to the construction of the giant church building, which is considered the biggest church building in Bougainville.

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The games will get underway on 21 June and will comprise of soccer, volleyball, taekwondo, boxing and athletics.

People from lower and upper Konnou have been encouraged take part in any sporting codes.

Soccer and volleyball teams in Kugala have started training in advance while the other teams will begin this week.

“The overall idea is to contribute funds to erect a new building and remove the old one that is risky to be used,” said Mr Soow, the captain of Teem Kugala.

Team Meira and Siupa are trying to form one single team to challenge all the soccer teams that are coming for the competition.

Tabago Primary School teachers have taken responsibility for organising the event.

Mr Soow stated that he wants to see competitive teams so that players will be selected to Buin town in December this year. He said that Team Tabago, which represented us last month in Buin, was defeated by Malabita Sharks, the current champions of Buin.

 

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Dedication to education delays a final goodbye

By Pauline Karalus

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The sad passing of the Late Buin Chief Linus Konukung has left a hole in the hearts of his family, but for the younger members attending university away from home the final goodbye must wait until the Christmas break and our return.

Being the last born in a family of 5, Andrew was always the favored son of Philomena Noou and late Linus Konukung and was always given the best.

As my Mother’s cousin brother Andrew came to live with us and attended the primary school that my mum taught at, though I was some classes ahead of him.

Weekends were the most enjoyable moments of our childhood days. Taking bush tracks, singing on the way and chasing one another up and mountains were laughter-filled and worth reminiscing.

After finishing grade 5, Uncle Andrew was sent to Lae to be with his big brother at Igam Barracks and attend school there.   He came back to Bougainville to finish year 12 at Buin Secondary and was made the Head Boy of the school. Andrew was home, but it seemed there was little time left to spend with his loving dad as he was growing older.

Andrew loved his Father more than anything in his life. Older and wiser he was, ever-ready to give motivation whenever we needed it.

Andrew spent the year at home having a closer connection to his father and the next year he was selected to attend Don Bosco Technical Institute (DBTI). Again the father-to-son bond interfered with by distance. Talking over the phone required money and Andrew had to concentrate on studies to do well and achieve his dreams and goals. He craved for Christmas breaks to come as soon as possible because he could not wait any longer to see the face of the man behind all his successes and achievements in life.

At the beginning of this 2016, I hugged grand-dad goodbye telling him to be strong for the sake of all his descendants who had to leave for school and that every one of us would be back during the Christmas break to listen to his legends again. He replied and said he would still be there. Overjoyed by the response I got from him I could not hold back the tears that rolled down my cheeks as I got on the vehicle to depart Buka once again and come to Madang.

Receiving the phone call in the afternoon straight after class about his unexpected sudden departure shattered me into pieces. I found it hard to accept the fact that it was true. I cried and cried and hated being in school this far. I thought he would still be around to be able to benefit from his grandchildren.

Andrew was into his examinations, so we all missed out on grand dad’s burial.

He would have never wanted any of us to be away from school upon his death and burial. As the months go by Christmas break is just around the corner. According to Buin custom Granddad’s graveyard awaits visit from those of us who were away. Surely the hole he left in our hearts is eternal.

Until we meet again Grandpa.

 

 

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