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Which way big man?

Updated on May 5, 2014

‘Which way Big man?’ is a play written by Nora Brash, a Papua New Guinean. The play is set in the post-independence era and is about the division of the Papua New Guinea culture and the modern introduced Western way of doing things. It is moreover about the struggle that this gap cause between the younger generation and the old people. The author tries to accept the modern social and cultural changes but does not approve of the way some people act towards it. She feels that even though these changes are good, we have to hold on to some of our traditions. This article will attempt to support the author’s view that our traditions should be preserved as it is our identity.

The main suggestion of the play revolves around the clash and the division of the modern and the traditional Papua New Guinean way of life. These are the causes of all the conflicts and struggles in the play. For example, the gap between the young generation trying to adopt and adjust to modern ways and the old people tries to comprehend all these. In the case of the play, Sinob is portrayed as a young modern Papua New Guinean woman who thinks that the white colonial conducts are much better than the native traditions and tries everything in her power to be like them. Papa is the old man from the village who has very little idea of how the white men’s world works and can not understand his daughter in law’s behavior.

The author tries to come to terms with the modern social and cultural changes but feels that some traditional values have to be preserved and pass on. She does not agree with how some Papua New Guineans want to do away with everything that is their traditional culture and to live the Western way of life. She believes that even though these modern habits of good and have brought some benefits to people, they should not allow it to influence and make them forget their traditions.

Some influence from modern, Western culture is unavoidable: the point the author is trying to make is that PNGians should not be influenced to the extent they forget all their traditions.

Our cultures and traditions are our identity. We have to preserve and strengthen our traditional cultures because most of them are dying out from lack of practice and conservation. In the next hundred years, the future generation would not have anything to be proud of and to identify with. People are so immersed in the modern lifestyle that they soon come to forget who they are. When they are old they do not have anything to pass on to their children and the old ways slowly die out. Papua New Guineans should be proud of their past because we live in an ever changing environment. Identity is built on stories. If they don’t know their own story then they’ll end up living out someone else story. The traditional culture was mainly passed down orally because there was no motive to record the history, these makes it vulnerable to disappearing altogether. For instance, a young man from the village left his parents and goes to the city to be educated. He finishes school and then finds a job there and also marries a woman who has been in the city. He does not return to the village and soon the children are grown up and have married also. This continues to the next generation, they do not know their traditional values because they do not know their origins.

To conclude, it is very important to keep our traditional cultures alive to be passed on to the next generation. We should not let the modern ways sway us from our beliefs and values. It should be preserved because it makes up our uniqueness.


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