BY PATRICK MAKIS
The Arawa leg of the 2019 Bougainville Yumi Wan festival hit Arawa this week in Arawa witnessed by the people of Kieta and Panguna.
The festival aims to unite the people of Bougainville through music, art and craft with key messages being centred on the upcoming referendum.
The festival is now in Arawa after visiting parts of Buka and Wakunai district in the past month.
Traditional dances, contemporary live bands, dramas and displays of art and craft were the order of the day as people flocked in the hundreds to witness the events and see the displays.
ABG Central Bougainville women’s MP, Marcelline Kokiai officially opened the festival while calling on Bougainvilleans to unite and 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 has always been our strength and has seen us overcome 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 said.
Ms Kokiai paid tribute to former leaders like Francis Ona, Joseph Kabui and 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 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.