Category Archives: history

Tilapa Woya Baruga, 1976

On the way back from the 1976 Sam, young men and women from the Numbami delegation performed their Singsing Baruga at Kela village (called Manindala in the Kala language), with whom the Siboma villagers had helped sponsor delegates. Here are a few photos from that performance.

Tilapa woya baluga. Titabinga ata.

Titabinga ata

Tilapa woya baluga. Titabinga ata.


Kolapa luwa tisipi sa ambamba.
Kolapa luwa tisipi sa ambamba

Kolapa luwa tisipi sa ambamba


Ekapa to kolapa tilapa woya baluga.
Baluga

Ekapa to kolapa tilapa woya baluga

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Scenes from the 1976 Sam at Busama

Young man enters wielding war club.

Warclub at Sam 1976

Young man enters wielding war club


Bumewe ilapa ambamba ipandalowa ima.
Linguist beating kundu drum

Bumewe ilapa ambamba ipandalowa ima


Kolapa tilapa ambamba tipandalowa tima.
sam1976-man-singsingikam

Kolapa tilapa ambamba tipandalowa tima


Kolapa tikarati wai woyama inggo inalapa woya baluga.
sam1976-man-iredi

Kolapa tikarati wai woyama inggo inalapa woya baluga


Tilapa woya baluga. Kolapa teulu tidudunga.
Tidudunga

Tilapa woya baluga. Kolapa teulu tidudunga.


Kolapa titota ata ditako. Kole te inumu yabokole.
singsing-smokebreak

Kolapa titota ata ditako. Kole te inumu yabokole

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Siboma Village Scenes, 1976

One side of Siboma village in 1976

Siboma village

Siboma village, 1976


Siboma village council house and central plaza
sibomahauskaunsil

Siboma council house and central plaza


Daniel Siga’s lumana (bachelor quarters) and beachfront
Siga na lumana

Daniel Siga’s lumana (bachelor quarters) and beachfront


Village house under construction
sibomahausoliwokim

Siboma village house under construction


Allocating goods for a village party
Preparing to party

Allocating goods for a village party

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Magic Spells to Grow Pigs

The following story is one I translated from the Jabêm-language Buku Sêsamŋa II [Book for reading, 2nd ed.], by Rev. M. Lechner and Nêdeclabu Male (Madang: Lutheran Mission Press, 1955), pp. 10-11:

Mec bôc kê-tôp-ŋa
magic pig 3sR-grow-for
Magic to grow pigs

Lau Sibôma sêsôm mec teŋ kêpi soŋgaluc
people Siboma they-say magic one it-upon pufferfish
Siboma people say a kind of magic on the pufferfish

ma sêsôm teŋ kêpi m
and they-say one it-upon banana
and they say one on the banana

gebe bôc têtôp ŋajam.
say pig they-grow good
so that pigs grow well.

Sêsôm kêpi soŋgaluc
they-say it-upon pufferfish
They say it on the pufferfish

gebe i tonaŋ embe daŋguŋ nga sao êndu
say fish that if we-spear with fishspear dead
because when we spear that fish dead

ma têtacwalô êsung êtu kapôêŋ sebeŋ
and its-belly it-swell it-turn large fast
then its belly will swell up big quickly

ma bôc êtôp êtôm i tonaŋ
and pig it-grow it-match fish that
then the pig will grow like that fish

têtac kêsuŋ kêtu kapôêŋ sebeŋ naŋ.
its-belly it-swell it-turn big quick REL
whose belly swells up big quickly.

Ma sêsôm mec teŋ kêpi m
and they-say magic one it-upon banana
And they say magic on the banana

ŋam gebe bôc êtôp êtôm m,
reason say pig it-grow it-match banana
so that the pig will grow like the banana,

naŋ tasê kêsêp kôm
that we-plant it-into garden
that we plant in the garden

ma kêpi ŋadambê kapôêŋ me gêuc sebeŋ
and it-rise trunk large or it-stand.upright quick
and its trunk grows or stands upright quickly

e ŋanô kêsa ma kêtu lêwê,
until fruit it-rise and it-turn ripe,
until its fruit appears and turns ripe,

ma bôc êtop sebeŋ amboac tonaŋgeŋ.
and pig it-grow quick like that-Adv
then the pig will grow quickly in the same way.

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The Schoolboy and the Japanese Officer

The following story was told to me in 1976 by a Numbami man who was a noted traveler and storyteller whose nickname was “Samarai,” because he had once spent time there. (My late West Virginia uncle had also spent time as an Army cook on nearby Goodenough Island after spending time in Australia. He had a lot of respect for the Aussies, and he’d been in fistfights with more than a few of them.)

In this first, rough translation, I’ve tried to capture the storyteller’s idiom without presuming too much specialized knowledge on the part of my readers. We can be sure the story has “improved” over countless retellings, but it nevertheless conveys a third-party perspective on the Pacific War that is too rarely heard. For more local reactions to the Pacific War, consult the Australian-Japan Research Project for Australia and PNG, and the book Typhoon of War for Micronesia.

While were were in school [around March 1942], the Japanese came and took over Lae, took over the Bukaua coast [the south coast of the Huon Peninsula], all the way to Finschhafen. But we stayed there at school for another year. Then, okay, the Australians and Americans seemed to be planning to come back. Their number one patrol officer, Taylor, sent a letter saying, “Natives, don’t stay in your villages any more. Build huts in your hillside gardens and stay there. A big fight is coming.”

So here’s what we did. We people at Hopoi abandoned Hopoi. We took our school, our desks, and everything and set them up in the forest. We stayed at a place called “Apo.” We kept going to school and, okay, the Australians came from over on the Moresby side, they came all the way to Wau. And they came down that little trail and they and the Japanese fought each other over at Mubo and Komiatam [above Salamaua].

And they sent word to us Kembula [Paiawa], Numbami [Siboma], and Ya [Kela] villagers to go carry their cargo to Komiatam. And they did that and the fighting got harder. The Australian forces got bigger. And some Numbami went and carried cargo over at Salamaua. They went at night. They went there and the Australians came down and fired on the Japanese so the Numbami ran into the forest.

They ran into the forest and there was one guy named G. “G, where are you? We’re leaving!”

So, okay, they went and slept overnight and the next morning arrived at Buansing. And a Japanese bigman there named Nokomura [probably Nakamura], he heard the story so he came down and talked to me. He talked to me and I said, “Oh, that was my cousin, my real [cross-]cousin.”

So the Japanese guy said, “Really? Your cousin? Oh, your cousin has died. The Australians shot him dead.” And he spoke Japanese, and he said, “One man, bumbumbumbumbumbu, boi i dai.”

I said, “Oh, you’re talking bad talk.”

Then he said, “Tomorrow, you go to school until 12 o’clock, then come to me.” So I went to school until 12 o’clock and I went to him.

He gave me, dakine, a rifle, a gun. And he gave me, dakine, ten cartridges, ten rounds. Then he said, “I’d like for you to take this and go shoot a few birds and bring them back for me to eat.”

So, okay, I took it and I went. And he wrote out my pass. And there were bigmen with long swords the Japanese called “kempesi” [probably kempeitai, the dreaded military police]. One man, his name was Masuda [possibly Matsuda]. This man had gone to school over in Germany. And he really knew German well.

So I came by and he saw me, “You, where are you going with that gun?”

So I said, “Oh, a bigman gave it to me to shoot birds for him to eat.”

“Let me see your papers.”

So I showed him my papers and he said, “Okay, go.”

So I went and found a friend of mine. His name was Tudi. I said, “Hey, Tudi. A bigman gave me a gun and I haven’t shot a bird yet. Could we both go and you shoot?”

“Okay.”

So we both went and stopped at an onzali tree and two hornbills were there. So he went and planted his knee and shot one and it fell down. So I was really happy and ran and got it. We kept going until he shot a cockatoo.

So after I thanked him, I said, “Give me the gun and I’ll see if I can shoot.”

So he gave it to me and we kept going until we saw some wala birds, and I said, “I’ll try to shoot. Shall I shoot or not?”

So, okay, I fired and I shot a wala bird to add to the others. So I said, “Okay, we have enough, so I’ll take it and go.”

So I tied the wings together and hung them over the gun and carried them back over to Buansing. I went and all the Japanese bigmen were sitting in a, dakine, committee. They were talking about the coming battles. They were sitting there talking and their bigman said, “Look, here comes my man,” and the guards saluted him. And I was invited in.

So I entered the building and the guard at the door said, “Ha!” When he said that I replied, “Ha!” And I bowed three times and he bowed three times.

After we finished, okay, I went up to the second guard and he went, “Ha!” And I said “Ha!” And I bowed three times and he bowed three times. Okay, then I walked on.

So then I went up to the man who stood at the steps up to the bigman. When he said, “Ha!” then I said, “Ha!” and we had both bowed the third time, I went up the steps.

I went up the ladder and the people who were sitting in the meeting, they stood up and went “Ha!” to me and I said “Ha!”, then I went up and they gave me a chair. I sat down.

And the bigman glanced at his cook. And, okay, he took smokes and opened a pack and passed them around until they were gone. Okay, then he struck his lighter and gave everyone a light, then we all sat down. We sat and sat, maybe a half-hour. Then he told his people, “Okay, the talk is over.”

So they all split up and went out leaving just him and me still sitting. We stayed sitting until he said, “I’ve already given you a blanket and a mosquito net. Here’s a knife. Here’s your lavalava. Over there are your bags of rice and dried bonito, two tins of meat, a tin of fish.”

I said, “Oh, you’ve given me so much. How will I carry it?”

He said, “Oh, it’s all right. Take it away.”

So I asked him, “You’ve given away so much. What does it mean?”

“Oh, there’s a reason. I guess I’ll tell you. After you leave, a ship will come tonight, a submarine will come and I’ll board it and go to Rabaul.”

I said, “Why are you going to do that?”

“Nothing. All us bigmen are going up to Rabaul because the bigmen and a whole lot of soldiers are at Rabaul. And these people, their job is to stay behind, and fight the Australians and Americans when they come, and destroy them, destroy them here. And us bigmen will be in Rabaul.”

“Oh, all right.”

Then he told me, he said, “You go get a good night’s sleep so that when you see the crack of dawn you’ll get up quickly.”

Listen to the fuller story in Numbami here:

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The Schoolboy and the Japanese Straggler

The following story was told to me in 1976 by a Numbami man who was a noted traveler and storyteller whose nickname was “Samarai,” because he had once spent time there.

In this rough translation, I’ve tried to capture the storyteller’s idiom without presuming too much specialized knowledge on the part of my readers. We can be sure the story has “improved” over countless retellings, but it nevertheless conveys a third-party perspective on the Pacific War that is too rarely heard. For more local reactions to the Pacific War in Papua New Guina, consult the Australian-Japan Research Project.

We went and slept until the first crack of dawn when it was my time to sound reveille. So I went and struck the, dakine, slitgong: “Kuing, kuing, kuing, kuing, kuing.” So then the boys woke up and bathed and washed their faces. When they finished, okay, the bell rang.

The bell rang and all the people went to school and were singing. As soon as they finished, I ran right up behind the school and stood atop a rock.

When I looked out, I could see as far as the Huon Gulf and, okay, it was completely dark.

I said, “Hey guys, come look at something. The boys said, “What is it?”

“Come look!” And when they looked, “Guys, let’s scatter!”

Okay, they went and gathered up their things and fled into the forest. Before we left, the guns started sounding, “Bum, bum, bum.” They were firing at the soldiers at Singkau and Kabwum and Lae and Salamaua. You could see fire and smoke all over the place.

Okay, all the Bukawa and Hopoi people went into the forest. I ran to my house and roasted some taro cakes under a tree. I planned to take two to eat in the forest.

I was doing that and our teacher Gidisai and his wife and kids came up. And just then a crazy Japanese man came up. He had no gun, no knife, just walking around empty-handed.

“E, Kapten!”

So I said, “What?”

“E, Kapten, Japan boi hangre, ya.”

“Oh, I don’t have any food.”

“A, banana sabis [= ‘free’], ya? Japan boi hangre, ya.”

The teacher said, “Are you crazy or what? You go fight!”

“O, nogat [= ‘no’], ya. Japan boi sik na hangre, ya.”

“Oh.” I heard that so I stayed and thought, “Oh, if he stays there, the guns will kill our teacher for sure.” So I stood by and didn’t go into the forest.

I was standing there waiting and, suddenly, “Japan boi, yu mekim wanem [= ‘you do what’]?”

“Boi, hangre, a, imo [= ‘tuber’] sabis, ya? Imo sabis?”

“O, imo planti planti istap faia [= ‘are on the fire’]. Olgeta sabis [= ‘all free’]! Kam kaikai [= ‘come eat’]!

He went and sat down and ate taro and I said to the teacher, “You all go quickly!”

So they ran way over into the forest and hid themselves in the rocks. And then I said, “Japan boi! Yu kaikai. Yu stap. Yu slip haus. Mi go.”

“Mm.”

Okay. I took my things and ran into the forest.

Listen to the fuller story in Numbami here:

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Nombaŋ têtu Sibôma

This story was published in the Jabêm school Buku Sêsamŋa II [Book for Reading, 2d. ed.], edited by M. Lechner and Nêdeclabu Male (Madang: Lutheran Mission Press, 1955), pp. 99–100. I have inserted hyphens between stems and affixes and supplied the English (and Tok Pisin) glosses and free translation.

Nombaŋ tê-tu Sibôma.
Numbami ol-become S.
The Numbami become the Siboma.

Gêmuŋ-geŋ lau Sibôma nêŋ ŋaê teŋ Nombaŋ.
Before-ly people S. their name one N.
In the past, one name of the Siboma people was Numbami.

Êsêac sê-ŋgông gwêc atom,
they ol-dwell sea not
They didn’t live on the seacoast;

sê-ŋgông lôc ŋamuŋa tê-tôm lau saleŋ-ŋa.
ol-dwell hill behind ol-match people bush-of
they lived up in the hills like bush people.

Têm teŋ acgom ma mêŋ-sê-ŋgông gwêc naŋ ŋam amboac tonec.
Time one first and come-ol-dwell sea, that reason like this
Then one time, they came down to the sea, for the following reason.

Bêc teŋ ma êsêac Nombaŋ mêŋ-sê-kôc awê teŋ aŋga Kuwi-nêŋ malac.
day one and ol Numbami come-ol-get woman one from K.-their village
One day, the Numbami came and got a woman from the Kuwi village.

Kuwi-nêŋ ŋac teŋ kê-daguc gê-ja Nombaŋ
K.-their man one em-follow em-go N.
One Kuwi man went after the Numbami

ma kê-masaŋ biŋ gê-dêŋ êsêac gebe
and em-arrange word em-to ol SAY
and set them straight, saying

“A-kêŋ awê tau ê-ndêŋ aê ja-kôc ja-mu ja-na ê-tiam.”
yup-send woman self em-to mi mi-get mi-back mi-go em-again
“Give me that woman and I’ll take her back again.”

Ma lau Nombaŋ têntac ŋandaŋ kê-sa
and people N. bellies heat em-rise
And the Numbami people got angry

ma sê-sôm eŋ gebe
and em-tell em SAY
and scolded him, saying

“Ô-sôm paŋ-geŋ ô-kô,
yu-tell like-ly yu-stand
“If you stand there talking like that,

aêac oc a-nac aôm êndu
mip later mip-hit yu dead
we’re going to kill you

ma a-niŋ aôm su,
and mip-eat yu FIN
and eat you up

ma aôm-nêm lau oc sê-nam kauc aôm.”
and yu-your people later ol-hold mind yu
and your relatives won’t recognize you.”

Ŋac tonaŋ kê-têc
man that em-fear
The man was afraid

ma gê-êc gê-mêŋ malac kê-tiam
and em-flee em-come village em-again
and fled back to his village again

ma gê-jac-miŋ biŋ samob tonaŋ gê-dêŋ nê lau.
and em-hit-story word all that em-to his people
and told his relatives the whole story.

Nê lau sê-ŋô biŋ tonaŋ e têntac ŋandaŋ kê-sa
his people ol-hear word that till bellies heat em-rise
His relatives listened to those words until they got very angry

ma sê-kêŋ jaeŋ gê-dêŋ lau Buso to Lababia
and ol-send message em-to people B. with L.
and sent a message to the Buso and Lababia people

ac sê-ja sê-wiŋ êsêac
ol ol-go ol-join ol
and the latter went and joined with them

ma sê-kic biŋ sê-wiŋ tauŋ
and ol-bind word ol-join selves
and planned together

ma se-no laki sê-wiŋ tauŋ e sê-lic laki ke-letoc ŋajam.
and ol-cook ginger ol-join selves till ol-see ginger em-boil good
and consulted the war oracle together until they saw the ginger boiled over well.

Bêbêc-geŋ dê-di
morning-ly ol-arise
In the morning, they got underway

ma sê-sêlêŋ gê-dêŋ ocsalô e kêtulala
and ol-walk em-at forenoon till evening
and walked from morning until evening

ma tê-dabiŋ malac.
and ol-near village
and they came near the village.

Sê-pi malac sebeŋ atom,
ol-up village rapid not
They didn’t go up to the village right away;

sê-ê tauŋ susu sê-moa e gêbêcauc.
ol-pull selves away ol-stay till nightfall
they held back until nightfall.

Lau Nombaŋ samob sê-pi nêŋ malac
People Numbami all ol-ascend their village
The Numbami all went up to their village

ma sê-êc bêc acgom,
and ol-lie night first
and lay down for the night first,

go êsêac lau Kuwi to Buso ma Lababia sê-wa êsêac auc kê-tôm nêŋ andu
then ol people K. with B. and L. ol-sit ol closed ol-match their house
then the Kuwi and Buso and Lababia people surrounded each house

ma se-jop sê-ŋgông e geleŋŋa.
and ol-guard ol-dwell till daybreak
and kept watch until daybreak.

Ŋawê kê-sa
Light em-rise
It got light

ma lau ŋacjo sê-sa ja-tê-tôc tauŋ gê-dêŋ lau Nombaŋ.
and people enemy ol-rise go-ol-show selves em-to people Numbami
and the enemies got up and went and showed themselves to the Numbami.

Ac sê-lic êsêac su
ol ol-see ol FIN
The latter saw them

ma sê-sôm gebe
and ol-tell SAY
and they said,

“Galoc tonec ta-mansaŋ biŋ
Now this yumi-arrange word
“This time, we’re going to set things straight

ma ta-no gêŋ êsêac
and yumi-cook thing ol
and cook them food

ma ta-kêŋ nêŋ awê sê-kôc sê-mu sê-na ê-tiam.”
and yumi-send their woman ol-get ol-back ol-go em-again
and send their woman for them to take back away again.”

Lau Buso to Lababia sê-ŋô biŋ tonaŋ e têntac ŋandaŋ
People B. with L. ol-hear word that till bellies hot
The Buso and Lababia people listened to this until they got angry

ma se-eŋ oliŋ tauŋ
and ol-eat groan selves
and were consumed with rage

ma sê-sôm lau Kuwi-ŋa gebe
and ol-tell people K.-of SAY
and they scolded the Kuwi people, saying

“Amac embe a-ŋgôm gêŋ amboac tonec
yup if yup-make thing like this
“If you do like this

ma a-kêŋ jaeŋ ê-ndêŋ aêac lau gamêŋ baliŋ-ŋa atom
and yup-send message em-to mip people place long-of not
then don’t send a message to us people from faraway places.

A-be a-ŋgôm asageŋ ê-jô aêac-ma lêŋ baliŋ
yup-say yup-make what em-afflict mip-our way long
What are you doing to make us come all this way

naŋ a-sêlêŋ gêbêc baliŋ e geleŋŋa.
that mip-walk night long till daybreak
that we walked all night long?”

Sê-sôm su
ol-scold FIN
They finished arguing

ma siŋ kê-pi ŋamalac
and fight em-upon humans
and fighting broke out among the men

ma sê-jac lau Nombaŋ samob e gê-bacnê.
and ol-hit people all till em-finish
and they beat all the Numbami until they were done.

Lau ŋagêdô naŋ siŋ gê-wa êsêac êliŋ-êliŋ sê-moa saleŋ.
People other that war em-divide ol scattered ol-stay bush
The other people, whom the fighting had scattered about, they stayed in the bush.

Sê-moa acgom
ol-stay first
They stayed away at first

ma sê-jac tauŋ sa sê-pi tageŋ kê-tiam
and ol-hit selves up ol-upon one em-again
and then gathered themselves up in one place again

ma sê-wi malac laŋgwa sing
and ol-carry village old away
and abandoned the old village

ma sê-êc sê-sa gwêc sê-ja.
and ol-lie ol-out sea ol-go
and stayed out at the seacoast.

Ja-sê-kwêc malac wakuc gê-êc gwêc
go-ol-dig village new em-lie sea
They went and built a new village on the seacoast

ma sê-sam tauŋ se-be Sibôma.
and ol-call selves ol-say S.
and called themselves Siboma.

Ma malac laŋgwa taŋ sê-wi siŋ,
and village old which ol-carry away
And the old village that they abandoned,

gêgwaŋ to ka kê-pi e gê-jam auc.
grass with tree em-up till em-hold covered
grass and trees have overgrown it.

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