Every year, in correlation with Papua New Guinea’s Independence Day, the city of Goroka puts on a large ‘sing-sing,’ or show of cultural dance and songs. It’s hosted at NSI, the national sports center and gym located in Goroka. Representing many villages, the groups of performers arrived in a vivid variety of native costumes.
This year we were able to attend for the our very first time. Enthusiastic, we decked ourselves out in PNG wear, and made our way through the congested streets to collect Auntie Bu, who was joining us. Normally quiet, the area was now teeming with visitors from out of town, sing-sing groups readying themselves, and temporary stalls selling all types of food. Men called out, advertising the chance the throw darts at the boards which lined the streets. Groups huddled around face painters decorating cheeks with flags from various provinces. Flashing the guards our passes, we slipped in the gate.
Inside vendors sat behind their wares, showing off the products of many months of work. Intricate carvings, colorful bilums, beaded jewelry, and native costumes lined the entrance to the dancers’ field. I purchased several irresistible pieces as we make our way towards the sing-sing grounds.
Inside it was a whirlwind of sound and colors. Spread across the soccer field, individual clusters of performers danced and chanted simultaneously. Though our tickets got us in before general admission, it was still swarming with people. It was odd to view the white tourists interact with the culture and setting I had mentally isolated from Western culture. However, I soon joined them, armed with camera and sunscreen.
Bewildered yet exhilarated, I negotiated my way though the maze of dancers, eye glued to the lens viewer, trying to capture a bit of this scene. We roamed the grounds, chatted with performers, and took a multitude of pictures. At noon, Dad pulled us out. Head aching but elated, I was loath to leave.
I arrived back at home, sunburned and with a mind whirling with all I had seen. Going through the photos that afternoon helped me sort out and process the wonderful craziness of the morning. I had loved witnessing the nationals proudly showing off their culture. After this memorable morning, I look forward to Goroka show 2017!