TOLAI CULTURE IS LOST SAYS LEADER

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RABAUL, Papua New Guinea (November 23, 1999 – Post-Courier)---A traditional Tolai leader believes his people have lost their culture to modernization and the Western way.

Henry ToKubak is a traditional Tolai leader from a village on the north coast of Rabaul and is well known for his fight to use traditional Tolai money, or "tabu," as a second currency in East New Britain Province.

Speaking yesterday, Mr. ToKubak said recent negative publicity in the province, such as the increase in sexually related cases involving incest and the Taraiu saga involving a 16-year-old sex slave, indicates that traditional values, which strengthen respect in the community, were fading away quickly.

"The leaders of this province, both in government and traditional leaders, must now press the panic button," Mr. ToKubak said.

"We are losing our cultural norms and values to modernization."

Mr. ToKubak said the Tolai culture, as well as other cultures around the country, was deep rooted and dates back hundreds of years.

"Our culture and our tradition is our identity," he said.

"If we lose them, we are nobody.

"But more seriously, if we forget our culture and traditions, we lose respect for ourselves, our old people, our families and our women folks and our children.

"This is what is happening today when you hear of the sort of sick things that are besieging us," he said.

As the province becomes more and more modernized, he said the Tolai culture would also fade away unless something is done.

"I stand to argue and uphold the principles of my identity, of which I was created traditionally, Mr. ToKubak said.

"Nobody has the right to take that away."

He said churches or people in authority had no right to eradicate "our traditional values."

Mr. ToKubak said the case involving the 16-year-old girl allegedly held as a sex slave in a Tolai sacred place should force leaders into how to restore traditions and values within the community.

"As a Tolai, I totally condemn what has happened and the traditional society must be dead with that problem to be able to stamp its authority in the community," he said.

The Tolai leader said the incident must be seen from the perspective that the issue of secrecy of the sacred place was violated, that a woman was forced to break the traditional law and the issue of a strong family unit was brought into question.

He said the younger generation was at a crossroads and something must be done to get them interested in their culture.

He suggested that a cultural revival center be established to revive the values of the Tolai culture.

"Our young people are leaving the safety of our traditional communities and go to town to look for what is considered the new or modern world," he said.

"But in reality, that world is full of bad practices, which leads us to commit all sorts of bad things."

Through the work of the center, we have to re-evaluate our values and anchor our young generation to their roots and get them to be proud of their culture.

 

TOLAI SEX SLAVE ACT CONDEMNED

EAST NEW BRITAIN, Papua New Guinea (November 23, 1999 – Post-Courier)---The alleged incident involving a 16-year-old girl being kept as a sex slave in a Tolai sacred place, or Taraiu, is degrading for woman who traditionally hold power and command respect in the Tolai society, a local women's leader said yesterday.

Buntabu Brown, who is also the wife of former premier Sinai Brown, condemned the incident, saying it was degrading.

She said the Tolais practice the matrilineal tradition, where children from a marriage follow the mother's line or clan.

Mrs. Brown added that the Tumbuan society has its beginning from the matrilineal tradition, where clans have their own Tumbuan and are associated with their myth of origin.

A Tumbuan clan is either named after the first woman, who is known as the head of the land, or their myth of origin.

Within the society, control of land, property or decisions over children rests with the mother's relatives and not with the father.

Mrs. Brown questioned how 20 men and the owners of the Tumbuan in question could allow such a crime to occur, especially for so long.

She said the incident was a show of disrespect for the Tumbuan, which was female.

"All Tumbuans are females and normally the head or myths of origin for clans," Mrs. Brown said.

She said men stay in the Taraiu to show and uphold their highest respect for their Tumbuans.

"The Tumbuans have a lot of power in the society and right now they must exercise these powers."

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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