Monday, December 29, 2008

A Brief History of PNG


Since many of you know about as much about Papua New Guinea as I did two years ago (i.e. nothing), I’ve decided to take you on a brief tour of some important dates in PNG history. These excerpts are taken from a handout that we got in our orientation course.

Taim Bipo Bipo Tru (a long long time ago)
The first people arrive on canoes and rafts, probably from Asia. Gradually some move to the Highlands.

Taim Bipo (a long time ago)
Some traders bring over pigs which become like money in the Highlands. They are used for ceremonies, bride prices, etc. PIGS=WEALTH. Kaukau (sweet potato) is brought in later and becomes the main food source for the Highlands.

1526
Jorge de Menesos sails by the south coast of PNG on his way to Portugal. He notices the people’s frizzy hair and gives them the name “Papuans” (which means “frizzy hair.”)

1600’s
People on the islands and coastal regions discover Dutch explorers. They are amazed by the strange sight of people with white skin in odd canoes carrying wonderful stuff. They try to explain it all through myths and legends.

1800’s
People notice that the “white skins” begin to stay – colonists who make them work on plantations and missionaries who give them the Gospel of Jesus. Some people fight with the “white skins” and some are friendly. Some are kidnapped by slave traders.

1884
People in the North are told that they live in New Guinea and that they belong to Germany. People in the South are told that they live in Papua and they belong to Great Britain.

1906
People in Papua (the South) are told that their new masters are the Australians.

1914
People in New Guinea (the North) are told that they belong to Australia too, because Germany started a war somewhere.

1920’s and 30’s
People in the Highlands discover white skins for the first time. They are scared and confused and many think that their dead ancestors have turned white and have come back to them. They soon realize that they are only human.

1942 - 1945
Japanese invade and take over much of the North coast and try to take Port Moresby (the capital in the South). People hide in the bush and caves as their villages and gardens are destroyed. Many people die. Many people become involved in the war as soldiers, carriers and laborers for Australian forces. They are remembered as heroes for their bravery and are nicknamed “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels”.

1950
Australia forms Local Governments so the people are ruled by their own leaders again (sort of).

1961
Papuans and New Guineans are allowed to vote in a national election for the first time.

1973
Australia allows Papuans and New Guineans to govern themselves in national government (with Australia’s help).

1975
Papuans and New Guineans take down the Australian flag and put up their own new flag and peacefully become the independent nation of Papua New Guinea.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Interesting! Thanks for sharing.