2019 Crocodile Prize receives first entry
Digital illustration developed from a photograph by Andy Hau (Yuda Pictures).

The first entry has been made to the 2019 Crocodile Prize, arriving just two hours after contest was officially declared open.

Abigail Seta’s piece, ‘My culture, my identity’, was entered in the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature. It is a reflection on the importance of cultural identity and how it transcends space and time.

Well done Abigail! We look forward to more entries from you and others as the Crocodile Prize progresses through 2019.

My culture, my identity
By Abigail Seta

I couldn’t help but feel overwhelming pride for my culture as the beautiful bright yellow and red colours were painted skilfully on my face. A proud Mekeo woman, I was at that moment.

Although overwhelmed, I did feel sad that my family was not present to witness their daughter, sister, niece and granddaughter dress in Kairuku’s outstanding traditional attire and sway to the famous Kairuku ribiri song.

As I wore my grass skirt which fell all the way down to my feet, I began to remember stories told to me by my grandmother when I was growing up. Times when my brother and I would be too much for her to handle and she’ll tell us about the struggles she went through when she was in the village.

She would speak in Mekeo language and later in English: “You children are so lucky today, you have clothes to wear.”

We played around and never really took to heart what she meant or mostly we’d ignore statements like these.

She’d continue; “My time, we never had clothes. I wore only grass skirt without any clothing whatsoever and crossed rivers to get to school.”

As a child then, I never realised the struggles she went through. She’d talk to us, we never really listened, we only heard. While thinking back, it dawned on me that we never stopped to think that our grandparents and great-grandparents gave up so much of their cultural heritage to leave the village life and bring us out to the city where we don’t experience the hardships and challenges they had gone through. We have it easy.

Thus, I wore my grass skirt that day with my grandmother on my mind. Yes, the grass skirt was uncomfortable, I couldn’t sit; I could only stand and I tried to imagine the discomfort my grandmother had had. For me, I compared it with what I wear today and I just couldn’t imagine that this piece of traditional attire, beautiful but uncomfortable was worn everyday by her.

Sometimes it takes being far away from home to realise the beauty of your cultural heritage. Dressing up in your traditional attire and performing in another province is an emotional experience, you have a sense of pride for your culture and you know you’re also representing your people back home. I would say I definitely wore my heart on my grass skirt.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Lovely piece. Today, everyone just looks forward to ‘provincial days’ and independence day celebrations to wear traditional attire. But even now, this is slowly fading as traditional art and designs are being integrated into modern wear and flags on clothing that many wear these instead of a full traditional attire. May we try to continue to preserve the true traditional attire in the best way we can. All the best!

  2. I love the Kairuku ribi ribi. I can relate to your grandmothers tales of youth and spirit.
    Your expression of it through the dance mood and swings and the beautifully adorned Kairuku Mekeo colors. We truelly appreciate such when abroad and takes us back to home to where it all began.
    Wonderful 💛❤♥!

  3. Beautiful piece by Abigail.

    Traditions and Customs are symptoms of history and past evident in our society today

  4. Beautiful piece. It takes much courage and confidence to put on your traditional attire these days in public occasions for public display and viewing. Many young people in this age will need a lot of will power and courage to showcase their cultural identity and heriatge in such time as this where we are experiencing unprecedented cultural clash, and gradual lose of cultural identity.

  5. I like how you show the difference between the younger and older generation and yet link them together with a warm sense of Melanesian pride, especially when it comes to dressing up in our traditional ‘bilas’. I think all provinces can relate to that. Thank you for sharing.

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