When it comes to authentic PNG culture, the Enga Cultural Show is an annual showcase that is one of the very best.
In a country that abounds with cultural festivals, what sets Enga Cultural Show apart from the rest is based in the origins of this annual event. The show was first held in 1994 with the aim of preserving Enga’s traditional culture. And unlike the original “shows” such as Mt Hagen Show, Goroka Show and Morobe Show, which were established by our colonisers for different purposes, the Enga Cultural Show comes from the heart of the Engan people themselves.
As the last province in Papua New Guinea to make contact with the modern world, the pre-contact culture of the Engan people has been comprehensively documented through rare first-hand accounts by anthropologists. And what’s more, traditional ways of living, rituals and ceremonies are still being practiced in parts of the province.
Despite this, the impact of modernity has seen more and more tribes rapidly move away from traditional ways, and the annual cycle of ceremonies and singsings has been fading from the hamlets and villages in the mountains and valleys of Enga.
Of great concern to leaders in the province was the realisation that children were no longer being exposed to their own culture. The songs, chants and beats where no longer being learnt. The traditional, ceremonial attire was unpreserved. Where once there would be singsings and ceremonies in villages throughout the year, the drums were growing silent.
And that’s where Enga Provincial Director for Culture & Tourism Margaret Potane and Take Anda Museum Director Akii Tumu, come in to the picture as two leading instigators of the establishment of the Enga Cultural Show. Their aim was to create an annual event where Engans could continue to display their cultural knowledge and expression. A focal point for people from all over the province to continue to pass on their culture to their children.
This passion has been embraced and shared by the Enga’s visionary Governor Chief Sir Peter Ipatas and former Provincial Administrator Late Dr Samson Amean, who for more than 25 years consistently made funding available for the staging of the show.
Today, it’s is the biggest annual event in Enga Province and has resulted in the revival and preservation of culture.
The first day of this 3-day event, is when school student fill the singsing arena, showing that traditions and culture are alive in the younger generation. And for 3 days, around the showgrounds there are displays and demonstrations of rituals, ceremonies traditional life skills, such as axe-making, house and bridge building, and the making of ceremonial attire.
In recent years, what was once a cultural gathering for the people of Enga, has evolved into a major drawcard for visitors to the province and is one of the jewels in the crown of the Enga’s emerging tourist industry.
In 2023, the Enga Cultural Show is back again from 11th to 13th of August.