PROMINENT academics from five universities around the Pacific participated in the Wansolwara conference at Divine Word University, Madang in Papua New Guinea (PNG), to discuss the importance of restoring Pacific identity, on Tuesday.
Top of the agenda was to protest against the dominant narrative, that development means selling of/ or exploiting our lands and our seas for the riches within.
It is about adopting universal ideals, it is about endless growth in which people and cultures are nothing less than commodities; and it is about not having moral limits to what we can do.
The gathering was conducted by ‘Wansolwara’ and coincided with a celebration dance.
The dance signifies a protest against western influence of exploiting land and sea resources in the Pacific.
In an interview with the Bismark Group Coordinator and local host, John Chitoa, he said the celebrations of this unique Pacific gathering will be centred on reclaiming our Wansolwara: one people, one sea.
Spokesperson Rev. Francois Pihaatae said the dance is a narrative of decades and centuries of exiles, expulsion, persecution and pogrom, beginning with the first colonisation of our “sea of islands” to where we are today.
“Our symbols and our rituals to tell and proclaim to us and others who we are and our place in this universe,” he explained.
The gathering emanated from a group of people gathered for a planning meeting of four days at the Nadave training centre in Fiji.
Participants came from Rapa Nui, Guam, West Papua, Bougainville, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, California, Aotearoa, Vanuatu, Fiji and Australia.
The gathering was to affirm who Pacific people are and how they use our own art, music, dance, poetry and story- telling to be the writers of their own history.
The movement is coordinated by regional partnership from Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), Bismark Ramu Group (BRG), Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) and Social Empowerment and Education Program (SEEP).
The celebration known as Madang Wansolwara dance has attracted attendance from all over the Pacific, including artists, musicians, traditional chiefs, academics, clergy, activists, youth and university students, and civil society representatives.
The conference continues today.
By ELLIOT DAWEA
Divine Word University