Kenny Lucas entertaining the crowd
Kenny Lucas performing during the Manus Day 2011 at the Botanical Gardens in Port Moresby

It was day mixed with emotions for me during the Manus Day 2011 at the Botanical Gardens. Firstly, the day started in PNG time or more appropriately Manus time. As usual, the programs started late but that was fine because I had expected it and came at around 1:30pm. However, I must put some blame of the gate keepers. The entry process was, I recon, not as organised as it should be.

There was a long queue of people trying to get in and if you didn’t force yourself through you’d probably get in by the end of the program. The line of people were also a good mix of Papua New Guineans willing to pay K5 to, my guess is, watch the dances – a credit to the rhythmic tempo of the garamut. Also performing live was Kenny Lucas, a legend in the history of the music industry in Manus and the country.

Lucas was a popular artist back in the 80s and 90s and set history in the music industry by becoming the first Papua New Guinean to have an album on Compact Disc (CD). There were no facilities to make music CDs so Lucas took his album to the Philippines. This set a new standard in music. Unfortunately, the place seemed a little too crowded.

Kurti-Andra cultural group getting ready to perform

The place had been packed to over-capacity. This made it hard to move and watch the cultural performances although I did get a short video of the Kurti-Andra group; my sisters, Niachalau danced with them and Charity with the Ahus group. Yep, a good number of friends and family turned up.

My relatives from M’Buke Island turned up in force with Uncle Kutan setting up a food stall which was tended by aunties Niasul and Hilan, and cousing Terry. They were selling (the cheapest) rice and stew for K7 while everyone else was priced at K10. I also met the Kusons of 5 Mile who came in full force to support Charity including 9 month old Colly. Unfortunately, nature threatened to cut short the activities with light showers having the possibility of becoming a major downpour.  The day turned out well for me. I enjoyed it although I had aching feet at the end of day from standing.

Manus baskets of on sale
Manus baskets of on sale

Let’s hope that next year it would be better organised especially the entry and at a larger venue. I could see a lot of disappointed people who could not get to see the performance and entry was another turn off. Anyway, if you missed out this year, don’t worry – there’s always next year.