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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Give it Away

      Ok, so I (matt) have been tagged in. This whole idea of the wantok system and askims is very interesting. Yesterday tiff told you that wantoks are people that speak the same language as you and this is very true especially when you are in your own region of the country. When you are outside your region of the country then your wantok is anyone who is from a village that is close to yours. So, when you are in your "asplace" (they say the place your rear end first touched the ground) people from the next village may be your enemy but when you are in another region in the country that same person is your wantok because you are neighbors. I taked to two men who live in Port Moresby (the capitol city) for whom this is the case.


     So, you are  obligated to help your wantoks if they ask you. If you have something (money, food, housing, ect.) that they need then you have to give it to them. One of the simplest and most vivid examples of this that i can think of is a time that Kundok and I went to a patch of mango baui trees that he had ontop of the mountain. It was about an hour and a half walk to get there. We picked a hand of these buai (about 20 pieces) and began to walk back. It is worth noting that a mango buai gets its name because it is the size of a small mango  (4 times the size of a normal baui) and are very prized for this reason. As is usual with most trips of this nature in PNG we did not take the shortest route there and chose an even longer route home because he wanted to visit his sister's garden. Along the walk back we encountered several groups of people from our village each of who asked if he had any baui. Each time he reached into his bilum and gave each person one of these mango buai. We got to the garden and sat down and ate some of stuff that they had picked out of the garden and cooked on the fire. His sisters and one of their husbands asked for buai, from which he freely gave again. I should say that he also asked for some produce for our family and for him and we left with so much that we had to borrow another bilum from them to carry it. We passed more people on the way home and they asked and he gave. By the time we got back to the village and he didn't have any left. He only chewed one or two pieces and the rest he gave away. But by the same token I have seen him ask plenty of times and people give to him without hesitation.

{Rita (Kundok's sister) and Rolins (Matthew's friend)}

     The other word I used earlier was "askim". It is usually called "askim tasol". This is simply when someone who is not your wantok whom you don't have a relationship with asks you for something. It is not a big deal to them if they get it or not -they are just trying. The easiest example of this is when I get at least one text a week on my cell phone asking for 1 or 2 two kina to be transfered to thier phone. I have no idea who they are and don't reconize the numbers. This is a culturally acceptable thing to do and sometimes people will give it to you but you are then obligated to them too.


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