BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
IN many ways, Central Islands Province (CIP) current Tourism Mentor from Australia Ms Annabelle Hender think that Pana (root vegetable) is a lot like tourism.
Taking part in the Pana Festival last week coinciding with the 2018 Independence Cruise at Haroro Village (Big Ngella) along Sandfly Passage, CIP’s Tourism Mentor explained with encouragement during her speech that a community needs to agree together first in deciding they want to harvest tourism.
“Then you need to work together to plant the seed (tourism infrastructure),” said Hender.
“Things like establishing water resources, building guest houses and facilities, sweeping rubbish from the beach, agriculture, completing hospitality training or working at your specialist traditional trades.
“At first progress is slow and it might appear as if nothing is happening and maybe there are set-backs such as through bad weather or natural disasters, but continue to work hard maintaining your crop believing that tourism will grow.
“Today we can enjoy not only the yield from hardworking Pana farmers but we can also see a fine example of what can happen when a community works together towards a goal.
“There is a famous motto which I believe was once written on Solomon Islands emblem which says ‘Together we stand, divided we fall’. It takes the co-operation and effort of an entire community to achieve a celebration like this, and I applaud the planning committee, tour and transport operators, local businesses, performers, tradespeople and community members for their collaborative approach in creating this event.
“You have demonstrated that by working together in which you really can achieve great things.
“The theme for today’s celebration is ‘Own your future, Embrace it’, here in Solomon Islands I can see you face challenging times in making the right decisions regarding your resources and economic development. There are many tempting options such as mining and logging which promise quick gains but so often result in irreversible environmental damage. Now more than ever, it is important to ‘Own your future’.
“It is time to think now about the legacy you will choose to leave behind for future generations.”
Ms Hender took the opportunity then to congratulate the people of Haroro for having the vision to see that they determine their own future and in taking steps to preserve their traditions and cultural practises by sharing them with others.
“The CIP Tourism Officer has informed me that you are a shining example practicing and preserving your customs such as wood carving, dancing, traditional songs and of course growing and cooking Pana.
“I want to thank you for sharing them with us all today,” said an appreciating Ms Hender.
“With proper planning and protection of resources, tourism can provide a sustainable economic future for Solomon Islands. And it’s our job within the Tourism Division at the Central Provincial Government to help facilitate this so that instead of cutting down forests, we can celebrate the beauty of them.
“Instead of blowing up the reefs with dynamite, we can protect them so that marine life species can thrive. Instead of local customs and traditions being lost, let us celebrate them as we are here today and continue to see them being passed on to the children and grandchildren.”
Ms Hender before completing her speech thanked all the visitors who chose to attend the Pana Festival last week Friday coinciding with the 2018 Independence Cruise to mark Solomon Islands 40th Anniversary.
“Thanks for coming with such a positive outlook and for your eagerness to learn about customs and the way of life in this region,” said Hender.
“As you enjoy today’s festival, I encourage you to take a moment to look around you at the faces of the community members.
“These are the people whose futures are a little brighter and more secure as a direct result of attendance here today.
CIP’s Tourism Mentor added that it is fair to say Haroro Community have been working diligently towards their tourism crop, and while it has not been easy, they have persevered as now is the time to join together to enjoy the harvest.
The Managing Director for Imperial Travel Service, Ender Rence, really appreciated Ms Hender’s contribution in the festival, boosting up few hiccup areas of expectations where some prominent leaders should have contributed in as well.
Pana Festival being held at Ngella is the first of its kind and is suggested to be an annual event for Ngella people to showcase the significance of Pana to their tradition and culture.
Haroro Community and Sandfly (Big Ngella) as a whole are grateful that despite the fact of hiccups faced, they thank everyone who has assisted in one way or another to make the festival take place into reality.
Special thanks also goes for the Tulaghi police and business houses who have contributed in kind such as the Solomon Star, Tropic Aluminium and Glass, EIGHTH Note, Sunday Isles Media and Fair West Shipping.
Local Ngella women said the festival gives an opportunity for them to showcase Pana’s significant value of life in how it is planted, harvested, eaten and respected by their people.
Just for a start but visitors both locals and foreigners during the 2018 Independence Cruise Pana Festival are already looking forward for the next festival expressing their appreciation in having the chance to experience knowing, learning and understanding the unique local root vegetable and its significance to the people of Ngella.
This includes exploring the natural beautiful environment of Ngella as well. Others amongst the visitors during the Pana Festival were also foreigners taking part at the MACFest in Honiara.
Fourteen different varieties of Pana were displayed during the Pana Festival. To add the flavour to the festival day, different traditional recipes out of Pana were also prepared for the visitors to have sample tastes from in which they did and enjoyed.
The 2018 Independence Cruise Pana Festival was a successful event organised by Imperial Travel Service and Haroro’s local committee headed by Mr Peter Sagupari.
Pana Festival is also dubbed to promote peace, happiness and unity within Solomon Islands.