“But when they came they hid you in the Book / And said you weren’t from around this place / We searched ’til we had nowhere else to look…”
GREGORY BABLIS – posted on PNG Attitude blog
ORO – I wrote this sonnet as I thought about some of the ideas arising from my interviews and other observations while conducting fieldwork amongst the Mengen (or Maenge) people of Jacquinot Bay in East New Britain.
The concept of God was a principle theme of most of my interlocutors. Nutu is one of the central characters in Maenge mythology.
Central in any discussion of their spiritual world was whether this being is foreign to the Mengens.
Or whether “we the people knew Him before they [the missionaries] came”.
Melanesia was the last place within Oceania to be Christianised.
Was it also the last place God visited?
A sonnet by Gregory Bablis
We the people knew Him before they came
His art and beauty we saw every day
We imbued Him into our hausboi’s frame
Gardens grow not least ’cause to Him we pray
Bountiful harvests are a normal trend
Many fish we get from around the bay
You’d think the seafood buffet wouldn’t end
We call – and tuna come at no delay
But when they came they hid you in the Book
And said you weren’t from around this place
We searched ’til we had nowhere else to look
Far away we fell from your saving grace
Still every day you watch us from the sky
When celestial bodies perch up on high.