The Albatros In Port Moresby

Absolutely awesome and beautiful...

No, it’s not a bird. It’s a cruise liner called the Albatros.  Looking so awesome in the sunshine. What a beautiful big boat. I wish I could go inside and take a peak.

Anyway, I was personally so happy to see a cruise liner in Port Moresby so soon after some negative reports about a month ago regarding the MS Rhapsody. The reports said it was turned away from calling into Port Moresby because of law and order problems or something to that effect. It was supposed to have called in on 24th February. I’ll never know the truth about that news item. This is not good for visitors to Papua New Guinea or for those of us trying to promote tourism in PNG.

The day the Albatros came to port, there were a few people along one part of Ela Beach displaying arts and crafts for sale and am sure there were similar ones elsewhere in the city. I don’t know whether some of the visitors came on land to experience the sights and sounds of Port Moresby.  It may not be representative of the whole country but it sure has ‘representatives’ from all over Papua New Guinea and it’s 1000 of more different tribes residing here. Such is the cultural diversity of this country.

Wonder how many swimming pools and restaurants are on this cruise liner.

I went up towards Paga Hill to take these shots. On closer inspection, I sighted some PMVs (passenger motor vehicles) at the wharf and even flower pots to beautify the walkway. It seems rather sad though that the passengers are not able to walk up to souvenir shops, tucker shops and some places selling kulau and local fruits. What a pity since cruise ships don’t pay tax, or do they? The place could have been set up to capture some tourist dollars trickling through the visit of the Albatros, albeit a brief one.

PMVs and potted plants but where were the passengers?

The Albatros was built in 1973 (so about 38 years!) in Helsinki, Finland for the Royal Viking Line. It has sailed under a few names, so if you don’t recognise Albatros you may recognise her other names, among others perhaps: Royal Viking Sea, Royal Odyssey, Norwegian Star, Crown and Crown Mare Nostrum. It is operated by Phoenix Reisen based in Germany. I read somewhere that Phoenix Reisen doesn’t own cruise liners, it engages them on long term charters. Well, the Albatros has come a long way to PNG. Danke…

You can see more pictures of the Albatros here.

Looking down towards the jetty and across the cricket pitch. The cricket pitch is barely visible. It is one of the oldest cricket pitches in PNG and one of the first in the country - must be over 100 years old!

The sight of the Albatros reminded me of the Bulolo and Malaita in the 1960s – two cruise liners that regularly berthed at Samarai Island – then District Headquarters of the Milne Bay District (now Milne Bay Province). I remember from Grades 2-4, I was one of the children on Kwato Island who would act as ‘tour guides’ for the tourists and in turn would earn lots of money (shillings and pence in those days) and tips from tourists of all ages – from carrying handbags to selling seashells (cowries, spider shells, etc). We also took down addresses and met a lot of penfriends in Australia that way. I met my first penfriend whose name I can’t readily recall now but she lived on Bowen Street (I think), Victoria, Australia. I got her address from her grandmother who was a tourist on one of the cruise liners that called in at Samarai Island. This was in the early ’60s. That was a long, long time ago.

Well, for the future, I hope we see more of these ships and more passengers visiting our capital city’s attractions such as the National Museum, the Modern History Museum and a whole host of historical landmarks and sites of cultural significance.

I wish the Albatros a safe and pleasant onward journey to other destinations.

Foundation Day In London – A Year Ago Today

Brought back happy memories…

On 24th October, 2009 I celebrated Foundation Day in London with my friends and members of the Queensbury Methodist Church (QMC) as part of their World Mission Week events.

Unless you are from Kwato Island, Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea, you are likely not to have heard of or know what Foundation Day is about.  This is a special event that celebrates the life of the Founding Father of the Kwato Church and the Kwato Mission in the Milne Bay Province – the Rev. Charles William Abel.

Simply put, Foundation Day is the celebration of the birthday of Rev. Charles William Abel within the Kwato Church community. It is a time to gather and reflect on how far the Church has developed from a core of dedicated and committed adherents of the Kwato Church’s congregationalist ways of worship to a fully-fledged Church established by law in PNG.

The Kwato Church grew from humble beginnings through the outreach work of Rev. Charles Abel who came to Milne Bay as a missionary from the LMS (London Missionary Society). The celebrations almost always has a re-enactment of the arrival of Misiebo, as he was referred to by the local people then – a mispronounciation of ‘Mr Abel’.

Choirs are also a major feature of this celebration as the Abels were credited with the introduction of choir singing and the tonic sol-fa music system to Papua New Guinea through the Kwato Mission. This is one of the most striking legacies of Abel’s work in Papua – the other being domestic science, nursing and midwifery, boat-building and the trades and of course the teaching, learning and speaking of the English language.

The Foundation Day is usually a time when we feel proud of this part of our heritage as we sing the Kwato anthem:  ‘Father The Light’. The opening lines go something like this: “Father, the light has come to us we have known. Thy wondrous power that can transform us and make. Anew our lives blot out past evil sown. And give us the victory for our Lord Jesu’ sake. O hear us as now we bring our country to Thee. For bound other people Thou dost wait to set free…”. I remember learning this song in Grade 5 with the late Aunty S. Mark who was our choir teacher then. We had to learn the song through the tonic sol-fa method before we can even dare to sing the words. Kapole…those were the days at Koeabule (KB) Mission Primary School near Alotau town, in the Milne Bay Province.

The name of the Church is the Kwato Church – its name taken from the idyllic little island called Kwato surrounded by four equally beautiful islands of Logea, Samarai, Bonaruahilihili and Ebuma – Logea being the largest and Ebuma being the smalles of the cluster of five islands. Samarai, east of Kwato was the district headquarters of the Milne Bay District then up to 1966/67 thereabouts. Kwato Island is boomerang-shaped and has a plateau on which the Church stands. The Church building on Kwato Island is one of the two stone churches in Papua New Guinea – the other one is in Rabaul, East New Britain Province. The Kwato Church was built by some of the best local stone masons in the area, and with local labour and completed in or about 1937.

This time last year, I was delighted and honoured that the QMC Council accepted my suggestion for this celebration and diarised it in the Church programme for the latter part of the year.

Prior to the gathering that evening, a few friends and I arranged the Morcombe Taylor Hall and I took some of my PNG artifacts, baskets and books to put on display. This was partly, a good opportunity to share something about PNG to my QMC family here in London, and partly to create an appropriate atmosphere for the celebration.

Display table - PNG baskets, artefacts etc

Of course the cooking began the evening before with the preparation of the mumu. This is because it takes hours in either an electric or gas oven. Thanks to sis CK and other wantoks who helped with shopping and peeling of veggies. Without their help and support we would not have had any PNG food to add to the celebrations. We had two big mumu dishes  which were a hit.  To accompany out delish mumu kaikai we also had barbequed pork and chicken curry. I had a special cake made for the ocassion by a local cake maker which had an imprint of one of my photos on the cake – that gave it that special touch. Of course there was also icecream for dessert.

Barbequed pork... courtesy of The Four Seasons, Chinatown, London

On the night I was blessed to have over 50 QMC members join me. The gathering of the QMC family was further graced by the Minister of the Church, and Superintendent of the Methodist Church Circuit for Barnet and Queensbury.

I gave a PowerPoint presentation on the Kwato Church – it’s history, work and legacy which received excellent feedback from the audience. I praised God for His many blessings that enabled me to bring the Kwato Church back to England in this way – through the celebration of Foundation Day.

Mumu...yummy, yummy, yummy

It was a great gathering and a good time was had by all – from what I gathered at the Chruch service on Sunday  (25 October, 2009).