Thursday July 24, 2014 - 9:00 am | Login

Mama Graon Director warns customs dying

The Director of Mama Graon Project Dickinson Tevi has warned that the successful infiltration of western influence into the traditional societies in the villages and urban communities is threatening to wipe out custom throughout the country.

He made the declaration during the Women and Custom Governance Forum in the Chiefs Nakamal yesterday.

What triggered the statement was a presentation by one of the facilitators from Tongoa Sea Side who pointed out that people from his island are not calling each other with their traditional names, but instead use “tawi” and “uncle” both of which are used loosely to call someone they know.

The facilitator said traditional names bestowed on babies at birth are vital as they link the child to his or her custom land.

It was then that Tevi said, “The situation is happening in all the islands in the country and if drastic measures are not taken now to change the onslaught, we stand the risk of losing all our languages and customs.

“It is as a result of this tragic situation that we have started a pilot (custom) school and taken onboard an old man to teach the students our language, custom ceremonies, custom dances, custom songs and everything that goes with custom to revive what we have already forgotten or lost. If it proves successful, it will be introduced in all the islands”.

Meanwhile Ruth Lini, wife of the Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini has called on all mothers and fathers to take their children with them to all custom ceremonies are they marriages, deaths, ordinations of chiefs or celebrations of new harvests. “Take your children with you to let them see firsthand what the custom ceremonies are like and explain to them what they mean. Speak to your children in your language because the key to knowing our customs are our languages. When our children know our languages then they can learn to know our customs”, she said.

Annette Mial of Tanna praised the women of Pentecost for their commitment towards teaching their children their language and customs and called on the audience to learn from them.