Pasin bilong kain kain manmeri

November 8, 2010 at 11:47 pm (Papua New Guinea) (, , , )

The title of this piece is roughtly translated, there are many different people with distinct life styles and customs. Pasin bilong em, is a pidgin expression that conveys a remarkable degree of  tolerance and a rather nice quality, so often found among the Sepik River people, particularly Grass Country villagers. These people display an understanding of human behaviour that goes beyond the ordinary. Gutpela pasin or good manners and custom on the part of foreigners and expats are long remembered and cherished in the Melanesian of the Sepik, but nogut pasin, while known and not forgotten tends to be forgiven and does not form the basis for eternal grudges and antagonism. The great sense of indulgence for others by the Sepiks is good and bad for them. Good because it makes them such a likeable and charming people, but bad because it allows foreigners and some of their own politicans to literally get away with outrageous and spivvy practices.

In some ways the Grass Country people turn the Shakespearean expression on its head: “The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones”.


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