BY PATRICK MAKIS
The Arawa leg of the 2019 Bougainville Yumi Wan Festival was launched in the town today as town residents and the people of Kieta and Panguna united and witnessed the festivities.
The festival aims to unite the people of Bougainville through music, arts and crafts with key messages being centred on the upcoming referendum.
The festival is now in Arawa being held in parts of Buka and Wakunai Districts in the past month.
Traditional dances, contemporary live bands, drama and displays of arts and crafts were the order of the day as people flocked in their hundreds to witness the events and see the displays.
ABG Central Bougainville Women’s MP, Marcelline Kokiai officially opened the festival calling on Bougainvilleans to unite as one people and to continue to support the work of the ABG.
“Your government, the ABG is emphasising unity and it is welcoming to see such a large crowd here today as this shows that you are united and ready for referendum.
“In Bougainville, our ability to unite as always been our strength and has seen us overcoming many obstacles including the Bougainville Crisis to be where we are today.
“We have come a long way and we know what we want and we will still reach the destination we are aiming for which is independence and self-determination,” she added.
Ms Kokiai paid tribute to former leaders like the Late Francis Ona, Late Joseph Kabui and Late Theodore Miriung and also to the 20,000 people who lost their lives during the crisis saying they paid the price for Bougainville’s freedom.
She reminded Bougainvilleans to all vote for independence adding that “if the majority are for independence or even if we get 100 per cent votes for independence, then PNG won’t have much to say but will let us go.”
Ms Kokiai also commended the organisers of the Bougainville Yumi Wan Festival saying music and arts were powerful tools to unite the population and also deliver referendum messages.
PICTURE CAPTION: Girls from Selau in Buka dancing to the beat of the bamboo band during the Bougainville Yumi Wan Festival in Arawa. PICTURE: JACOB IENU