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Purago Marabe and Martin Morububuna, October 2009 Jolika Fellows

Community Mural: Legend of Ilakavetega

By Martin Morububuna

Once upon a time there lived Ilakavetega and her two granddaughters. Every day the granddaughters went out to the beach to fetch saltwater for the grandmother. The Boi bird would come to the girls and would sit on the rock and talk to them, and would even say things about their grandmother.

One day the grandmother decided with the two girls to trap the bird and catch it. They set the trap on the rock and the bird sat on it and got caught. The two girls carried the bird home. The chief of the village heard that the bird been caught. He requested the head of the bird to make his magic. The grandmother did not give the head to the chief. The chief ordered his messengers to bring the old woman to him. The chief's magician killed the grandmother and got married to the granddaughters and lived happily ever after.

Artists' Statement: From Paradise to Where??

Papua New Guinea is a very diverse and multilingual developing country. In the unique Melanesian way, we began as a nation of structured cultures and communities. We had chiefs, elders, warriors, gardeners, healers, herbsmen and wisemen. People conducted their everyday routines according to specific expectations and rules of their communities, which varied from village to village.

Every issue and decision—even every penalty—was decided according to those rules. Apart from the hardships of warfare and their nomadic lives, people generally lived abundant, peaceful, happy, hard-working lives. In doing so, our people lived in harmony with each other and with nature and our traditions, while conflicts were amicably settled.

After World War II, there was an influx of missionaries and churches, each with its own dogma and teachings. After PNG gained independence from Australia in 1975, western culture poured into Papua New Guinea through government and private sectors. We became independent, but now we are dependent on modernity. We can’t go back now. We are searching for solutions. What can be preserved from the past?

The mural in this gallery looks back at the peoples, art, cultures and natural environment from the highlands to the coastal regions of Papua New Guinea. The painting expresses a wish for all people to realize the truth in themselves. Our hope for humanity transcends the specific people and places represented in the painting. We will all create this vision together. We all have our cultures and traditions. The paint will tell the colors of our collective story.

Poetry and Paintings by Purago Marabe


Where all the blood poured


Where mythical legends, are mythical and endless


Where food is never in short supply as handshakes


Where sleep is pure and abundant


Where all the tribes folk is bred and born


Where all must return to


Both the living and the dead.


Where god and the devil eavesdrop


Without inhibitions and mannerisms


Never merging


Only the sun and night fulfill


Their full or half lives


On the many roads


In and out of the village


Following the spirits of hunters and gatherers


It's the hauslined forever.


Row of houses lined up


Bush architecture against tribal village


My inheritance


Where my tambunas await


My families are scattered there


I've only come


To go back


Where my roots are


In line of string, intertwined


Playground of man, woman, children




            I am




            You are


From somewhere


            You emerge


On the hilltop


            I dwell


For me, you bring loving tidings and silence


For you, I share you my heart and kupe flowers


Together the feeling remains


As you caress the mountains and my gardens


Awaiting each other


Amongst you, I close my eyes.


Engrossed I breathe your freshness


That which is drunk before sunrise


It's my cup of endurance


Of the times ahead


This morning you made it


My day....


It's the mist.

I Plant Trees

If the sun is to again shine
My waiting is an aging handful
For, if the rain is to come much later,
My anxiety is tall
And every noon I dream a different tree.

If the clouds have not gathered
My eyes can’t see the scorching sun
The seed to be buried can’t wait anymore
My anxiety meets the sprawled wind
I climb different trees in my restlessness.

Though my waiting be many nights
The sun rests, so must I
The moon retires, so my waiting
For the wind to ‘round the clouds-
And the clouds to shield the sun
And for the rain of Porandi to fall
For the trees, before they sprout
Must dream their awakening.

There is sunshine fom Porandi
The Porandi spirits have sent rain
Monsoonal rains from the cousins’ land have arrived
Far away, there are echoes and drumbeats
In graveholes, there’s song and preparation
The long time has come
I plant a tree
One each for everyone’s shadows