By Quinton Alomp – EM TV News, Port Moresby
The people of Gogodala in Western Province are mourning the burning down of their traditional house in Port Moresby last Saturday.
The house was built at the Constitutional Park last year for the celebration of the fifth Melanesian Arts and Culture festival.
The arsonist is believed to be from East Sepik Province.
Gogodala leaders in Port Moresby are requesting reconciliation and compensation for their lost artefacts from the East Sepik Provincial Government.
“We will be approaching Sir Michael Somare with two demands. The burning down of the house remains with the state but we are concerned with our cultural values and artefacts.
“We will ask for reconciliation done our way and compensation to our artefacts,” said spokesperson, Matthew Piliwa, from Balimo in Western province.
The traditional long house was burnt down during the East Sepik provincial day celebrations in Port Moresby on Saturday, organised by East Sepik students at the University of Papua New Guinea.
The building is no ordinary building to the Gogodalas. It accommodates the entire village. The main Gogodala tribe is sub-divided into two sub tribes that live on both sides of the long house. The two sub tribes have four clans each, allowing inter marriages to take place within the tribe.
Back in the village, if someone burnt the house he will be killed instantly, prompting a big fight or pay compensation and reconciliation to each clan.
But with this incident, the arsonist is from a different province, prompting the Gogodala tribesmen to ask for reconciliation and compensation.
Two leaders, Kamola Mulake and Duni Koleya said the burning of this house means a lot to the eight clans of Gogodala.
“It means that the eight clans are being killed by the Sepiks,” Koleya said.
“It takes away our heritage, culture and lifestyle,” Mulake said.