Dear Editor – As a local girl in the village, I just don’t understand what mode of culture Solomon Islands is currently encouraging or promoting today.
The Department of Culture, the National Museum of Solomon Islands and the National Archive and our national leaders need to explain and give some directions to the people of Solomon Islands on how best they should preserve their local cultural heritage and traditional artifacts.
The absence of such important directions opened an uncontrollable situation of misuse of traditional cultures today.
I often wonder why many women and young girls were forced to appear bra-less with semi necked body to garland overseas visitors disembarking at Honiara international airport or during national festivals.
It often irritates me as a girl when I see beautiful ladies being used as dancing artifacts to narrate political strategies of powerful men and women for their own purposes.
This must be stopped as it is a complete robing of women’s modesty and dignity. Not only that but it is a total misuse of the cultural traditions of our ancestors.
I refer to this practices as a misuse of culture! People often think that by wearing traditional costumes and garlanding white visitors in such a manner is in many ways, preserving their cultures and promoting a particular cultural identity.
The only way I could think of where people could do to preserve their cultures as part of their living tradition is through performing cultural activities at their rightful context where the cultural ritual activities have meaning to the participating community.
Anything apart from that is just a misuse of culture.
Currently we have a dilemma! There are mixed voices about culture in Solomon Islands.
There are people who opted to preserve the dignity of their culture by performing them at appropriate cultural occasions in the village and restricted their common uses, while on the other hand some political leaders continue to encourage traditional cultures to be used to bargain tourist money and used as political toolto regain national reputation for hospitality and gesture of good manner.
I don’t know what the Department of Culture and others have done to resolve this dilemma and what have been their advices!
But I only assume that for a poor country like Solomon Islands, the answer to this dilemma is quite easy.
We only opted for where money comes. And I assume people were encouraged to travel this path with their traditional cultural baggage to bargain.
So the poor young ladies won’t refuse either to participate at the so-called cultural welcome ceremony of garlanding at the international airport because they know they will be given some forms of token in exchange of the daring task of allowing their bodies used as cultural artifacts, even when at some stage in the past they refused to participate in a traditional dance held in their own villages which require similar dressing mode.
I feel very sorry for these young girls and I just want to cry as well!
For most Solomon Islanders, what we are doing is important because they think that by displaying such activities we are becoming powerful and reinforce cultural identity overseas.
For me personally, it is a pity and we haven’t gain anything. Instead we are increasingly powerless and becoming objectified by the staring expatriate visitors.
It’s a joke! We are only re-enacting a somewhat an American zoo, a replica of the Amazon wildlife and the colonial British Museum in London for the visitor’s amusement and surprises.
They laughed it away with their cameras and camcorders in great shock that at last these pasted museum images are real and still alive in the Solomon Islands.
Sandra Wate Ramotalau