By Gary Hatigeva
HOSTING of the Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival (MACFest) in Honiara is an opportunity for Solomon Islands to understand the richness of Melanesian cultures, says Director General of Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), Ambassador Amena Yauvoli.
Island Sun took time to visit the MSG Secretariat booth and interviewed the Secretariat’s Director General who pointed out that events like the MACFest are important for the promotion of the many cultures and pride of Melanesia to the world.
Yauvoli explained that this is an opportunity of a lifetime for most, especially Solomon Islanders, as their nation hosts the MACFest.
He said it is an opportunity for the Solomons people to experience the rich cultures of the Melanesian region in one place.
He therefore suggested for the Solomon Islands population who are here in Honiara and those that are planning to be in the capital within these two weeks period, to take advantage of what he described as a chance to visit all stalls and learn about them (cultures).
“It’s not like this event happens in the Solomon’s every year, because it comes in every four years and gets to be hosted in different countries.
He said it is also important t for the people of Melanesia to be true to their cultures and traditions, and embrace their values, which are ideal in promoting and building cohesion and oneness of a nation.
He added that this year’s theme for the MACFest is very fitting as it gets the people of Melanesia to celebrate their countries’ rich cultural diversity as well as to rediscover cultural passion through poetry, songs, and cultural performances and exhibitions.
The Director General also suggested for the people to respect and appreciate Melanesia’s rich heritage, “which is also why the Secretariat is here, to promote and see that we do not lose them”.
Meanwhile, referring to all stalls within the Melanesian Village at the Panatina Campus venue, Ambassador Yauvoli explained and urged the people to also take time and visit them, including that of the MSG Secretariat.
He added that given the infancy of the Secretariat’s initial efforts, which mostly devoted to developing the required administrative framework and necessary legal parameters to sustain and facilitate all operations of the organisation, it is also under their mandate to educate the people on matters related to cultures of Melanesia.
“We are here to educated and inform our people of the roles and responsibility of the Secretariat, at the same time help promote our Melanesian pride.
Also commending the theme, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Andrew Nihopara in an earlier interview, stressed that there is an alarming rate in the pacific, especially in Solomon Islands, which people are embracing foreign cultures and abandoning their own.
Nihopara further stressed that with the theme, it is high time people learn to protect their own values and norms rooted in culture, and through events like these, the governments of each Melanesian countries, encourages and supports partnerships that can stimulate the arts and culture into contributing to the country’s peace, and its economy.
The Permanent Secretary who is also the Chair of MACFest 2018, shared in his welcome statement on the event’s page online, that the theme of the 6th MACFest “Past Recollections; Future Connections”, also reinforces the significance of this festival as a time to reminisce on Melanesia’s history and cultures.
“…whilst at the same time connecting ourselves as one people in diversity for a brighter connected future,” Nihopara adds.
The last time Solomon Islands hosted the MACFest was a decade ago, and this year, Solomon Islands is given the opportunity restart the festival cycle throughout the MSG countries.