British Week in PNG - Organised by the Connect UK Office
The first ever British Week in PNG organised by the Connect UK Office in association with the British High Commission was officially launched on 22 November 2002 by Sir Moi Avei, PNG Minister for Petroleum and Energy. The British High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr. Simon Scaddan hosted a special reception for more than 150 guests at his residence. Connect UK invited musician/dancer and actor William Takaku and his group to perform in true Papua New Guinean style at the launch to add a little pacific touch to the British Week programme. The Minister for Welfare and Social Development, Lady Carol Kidu, British DJ Crispin Kerr and Chef Glen Hall were also present at the launch.
The Connect UK Director, Pablo Ganguli, Head of Projects, Carole Grotrian and Arts/Events Manager, Judi Davies worked together with the British High Commissioner, Simon Scaddan, Deputy High Commissioner, Jonathan Drew and Vice-Consul, Diane Hitchen to make British Week a special and memorable occasion which was enjoyed by people in Papua New Guinea from all walks of life.
To promote a modern image of Britain and its people they invited a British DJ who played all the latest UK hip-hop, techno and dance music at one of the nightclubs in Port Moresby called the Lamana Gold Club. More than 500 people attended the event and most of them were between 17-35. The DJ proved to be a success with the local crowd. Songs from the South Pacific were also played by the Lamana DJs. It was quite a fusion!
Chef Glen Hall prepared a special four course English meal at the Cellar restaurant on Saturday night which was absolutely delicious. Everyone started singing British songs from the 50s and 60s. One of the guests who sang a song with the High Commissioner was Sir Anthony Siaguru, Former Deputy Commonwealth Secretary-General and Chairman of Transparency International PNG. Even the French Ambassador, Thierry Bernadac stood up and sang a song after the main course was over.
The DJ played again on Saturday night. On Sunday Morning, Connect UK's modern British Design exhibition was opened at the Brian Bell plaza in Boroko. The innovative UK design products supplied by the Design Council, UK were on display there for a week. The funds raised from the British Week launch reception and the dinner at the Cellar went to two charities: the Halfway House Centre and Disabled Sports Association.
A link between Port Moresby Grammar in PNG and Cyfarthfa High Schools in Wales was launched on 25 November at the Port Moresby Grammar School. The High Commissioner, Simon Scaddan hosted a special dinner for young people on 26 November. The invited guests included young MPs, rotarians, community workers, students and businessmen. The High Commissioner spoke to them about the UK Government, its policies, human rights and AIDS awareness issues.
Connect UK wanted people of all ages to be part of the British Week and thought it would be a good idea to encourage young people between the age group 12-19 to learn more about Britain and read some first class books written by UK authors. The UK Books Galore exhibition took place at the National Library in Waigani on 27 November and more than hundred British books were donated to the Library by the Friends of the Library Association, British Community and the staff of both Connect UK and the British High Commission. They books are contemporary and they were selected specially with young readers in mind. The Library staff said the titles that had been selected were excellent. They thought this was a good way of promoting UK literature amongst PNG youths. These books really do promote a multicultural image of Britain. Mr Ganguli said "We have always felt that books are very good Ambassadors for a country."
To promote a modern face of British theatre, Connect UK invited a small theatre company based in Leeds to visit PNG during British Week and perform their play 'Static'. It is a 40 minute performance consisting of two inter-cut monologues. It is almost purely text based with little if no movement from the performers. It follows the stories of two people in Europe. One, a man who returns home from a days work somewhere in the UK and the other a woman who travels across an eastern European landscape to find the body of her husband who has been killed in a civil war massacre. The denouement occurs when they both confront this final image of the dead husband. The man sees it as part of a television report, the woman is found by a camera looking at her husband. Static won an award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2001.
The two performances at the Port Moresby Grammar school were delivered outside with lights and microphones to an audience of 200. They also delivered two workshops in PNG each within schools. Participants were engaged with the ideas they were trying to explore and took part in everything they asked them to. They found that the focus of their workshops became about introducing themselves and overcoming shyness and cultural differences. The success of the workshops was that at the end of each session they felt as if a definite cultural exchange had been made.
The company performed in Bougainville as well. The recent actual experience of civil war in Bougainville and the content of the womans experience touched nerves in a more profound way than the company had ever previously experienced.
British Chef Glen Hall gave demonstration at Boroko Foodworld on 30 December at 10am. Boroko Foodworld had special British Food display for the week. On the night of 30 December, a dinner was hosted at the Cellar Restaurant to celebrate St. Andrew's Day. This event brought together the Scottish community and friends of Scotland in Port Moresby.
The visa regime for the United Kingdom on Papua New Guinea was lifted from December 18. Now Papua New Guinean visitors and students no longer need to obtain visas before travelling to the United Kingdom. The High Commissioner, Simon Scaddan said he was delighted that this "good news" had coincided with British week in PNG. He said "I very much hope that the lifting of the visa requirement will encourage a greater flow of Papua New Guinean visitors to Britain and enable them to experience our culture and hospitality."
On 8 December, the first ever British Film Festival was launched at the Divine Word University in Madang. The Governor of Madang, British High Commissioner, Head of North East Asia and Pacific Department of the Foreign Office, President of Divine World University and Director of Connect UK were all present at the launch. The films were provided by the British Council in London. The following films were shown:
'Charlotte Gray', 'Pandaemonium', 'The Magdalene Sisters', 'Last Orders', 'Large', 'Jump, Tomorrow', 'House', 'The Hole', 'Shiner', 'This Is Not A Love Song', 'Miranda', 'My Brother Tom', 'Like Father', 'Everyone's Happy', 'Born Romantic', 'Bloody Sunday', 'The Warrior'.
To show a traditional side of Britain, Connect UK brought out the world class British pianist Peter Donohoe to PNG to give a special recital. It was a truly musical evening and this was perhaps the first time in years for people here to experience and enjoy such a piano recital. Peter also gave a talk before the recital and the audience asked him questions about music in Britain in the 21st century. Peter gave a rectial on 11 December at the Crowne Plaza. This was the closing event for British Week. The Head of Delegation of the European Commission, Anthony Crasner thought the recital was wonderful.
He said " "Peter Donohoe played a varied programme with panache and style responding fully to the different sound worlds inhabited by his four composers: Debussy, Chopin, Beethoven and Liszt. The highlight of the recital was the second half which started with a sterling performance of Beethoven's 'Pathetique' sonata which was truely grand in the first movement, sombre without being over sentimental in the second and had a third movement which answered the questions raised by the first two movements and was not an anti climax. Then there was Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody where the gypsy style was splendidly caught while at the same time you never felt that the thread of the musical argument was getting lost.
Mr Donohoe's technical command was extraordinary throughout but he is able to put this technical facility at the service of a keen musical sensibility. He clearly enjoys communicating through the piano and his sense of enjoyment was conveyed unstintingly to his audience. It was a wonderful evening: the audience demanding encore after encore."
Connect UK thanks all the sponsors who made it possible for us to organise and plan British Week! It would not have been possible to organise this without their support and encouragement. They were:
British High Commission, Qantas, Air Niugini, Datec, Bank of South Pacific, EMTV, Post Courier, Steamships, UK/PNG Alumni Association, Friends of the Library, the Cellar Restaurant, Port Moresby Grammar School, Lamana Gold Club, Divine Word University, Hutjena Secondary School and Boroko Foodworld.
Through British Week, Connect UK has been successful in further strengthening cultural and educational relations between Britain and PNG. Their aim is to help Papua New Guineans learn about Britain and the opportunities it offers and also to enhance the UK's reputation as a valued partner in PNG. British Week has given people something interesting and enjoyable to experience and also shown people what a diverse country the UK is. British Week has heightened the UK's profile in PNG. Connect UK would like to keep on encouraging young Papua New Guineans to learn about modern Britain and its values and indirectly the Commonwealth. The British Week has re-affirmed Britain's interest in PNG and it may stimulate more interest in trade. Connect UK is here to create partnerships between the UK and PNG.