Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Biami people of PNG

Having taught in Papua New Guinea for almost ten years spanning the early 1960s to Independence in 1975, I have an insatiable interest in all things PNG.

A couple of days ago I found a YouTube video which is part of a David Attenborough documentary called ' A Blank in the Map'. That segment dealt with a 1968 patrol into what was then new territory and was indeed a 'first contact' with the Biami people. None of the Biami spoke the lingua Franca, Pidgin English (Tok Pisin), English or any other common language.

During the 'conversation' between the two groups; the Biami and the government patrol, Attenborough pointed out the universal human facial expressions and gesticulations with which the Biami used to communicate. Interesting...not surprising, but interesting.

Well worth a look here.

Joan is scheduled for a CT scan this Thursday.We should get some positive feed-back the following week when we see the oncologist again.


Sally Lloyd said...

Hi Kev.
Interesting indeed... I would love to see on the map the location of this contact.
In actual fact the contact is not with Biami (or Bedamuni) people of PNG, but probably a fairly close tribe.
My father was on some of the earliest patrols into the Biami tribe, and our family moved there to live among them from 1968 onwards. My parents still work among that tribal group.
I know from the language, traditional dress etc that they are not true Biamis. Many of the customs such as counting etc are very similar.
Any clues on the location?

Kev said...

Sally, good to hear from you. No, I don't know the exact location shown in the video.

I taught in the Gulf of Papua, Madang, Port Moresby, Maprik and Popondetta.

In the blog archives (down the RH side of the text you will find other bits and pieces of PNG adventures I had.

I would like to hear more of your PNG memories.


Unknown said...

Hi Kev,I stumbled across your blog when searching for "Biami" online and thought you may be interested in an item which I am auctioning on ebay at the moment.. it is a Genuine Biami Bow and Arrow set. I am auctioning it off to raise money to provide aid to the Bedumani (Biami) people as they currently have a major food shortage, and to fund community projects. I cant seem to link the item, but if you search the keywords Biami, bow and arrow, PNG. Im sure you will find it.

Coincidently, Sally Lloyd who has also commented on this blog is my Birth Mother.. hence my connection to the tribe! Haha