By Tim Flannery
The island of New Guinea, of which Papua New Guinea is the eastern part, is only one-ninth as big as Australia, yet it has just as many mammal species, and more kinds of birds and frogs. PNG is Australia’s biological mirror-world. Both places share a common history going back tens of millions of years, but Australia is flat and has dried out, while PNG is wet and has become mountainous. As a result, Australian kangaroos bound across the plains, while in PNG they climb in the rainforest canopy.
- Ambua Lodge Comfortable spot in the Tari Gap, Southern Highlands.
- Kumul Lodge Specialist birders’ lodge 40 minutes from Mt Hagen.
- Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area For the more adventurous; in the Southern Highlands area.
- Karawari Lodge In pristine lowland rainforest in the foothills of East Sepik Province.
- Walindi Plantation Resort Famous among divers, Walindi also offers superb birdwatching.
- Kamiali Wildlife Management Area Huge hawksbill and leatherback turtles nest along the Huon Gulf Coast of Madang between November and March.
- Sibonai Guesthouse An excellent place to see Goldie’s Bird of Paradise and other unique avian species on Normanby Island.
- Jais Aben Resort Easy access for divers and snorkellers to a stunning variety of marine wildlife near Madang.
- Lake Murray Lodge New, luxurious birding and fishing lodge on Lake Murray in the Western Province, home to over 50% of PNG's bird species.
- Panasesa Resort Dive the world's most extensive and pristine reefs in the remote Conflict Islands.
PNG – A Megadiverse Region
PNG has the third largest, and some of the most diverse forests on earth, and it owes much of its diversity to its topography. The mountainous terrain has spawned diversity in two ways: isolated mountain ranges are often home to unique fauna and flora found nowhere else, while within any one mountain range you will find different species as you go higher. In the lowlands are jungles whose trees are not that different from those of Southeast Asia. Yet the animals are often startlingly different – cassowaries instead of tapirs, and marsupial cuscus instead of monkeys.
The greatest diversity of animal life occurs at around 1500m above sea level. The ancestors of many of the marsupials found in these forests were derived from Australia some five million years ago. As Australia dried out they vanished from that continent, but they continued to thrive and evolve in New Guinea, producing a highly distinctive fauna. Birds of paradise and bowerbirds also abound there, and the forest has many trees typical of the forests of ancient Gondwana.
As you go higher the forests get mossier and the air colder. By the time you have reached 3000m above sea level the forests are stunted and wreathed in epiphytes. It’s a formation known as elfin woodland, and in it one finds many bright honeyeaters, native rodents and some unique relics of prehistory, such as the giant long-beaked echidna. Above the elfin woodland the trees drop out, and a wonderland of alpine grassland and herbfield dominates, where wallabies and tiny birds, like the alpine robin, can often be seen.
Flying into Port Moresby you’ll encounter grassland – a far cry from the eternally wet forests that beckon from the distant ranges. Such habitats exist in a band of highly seasonal rainfall that stretches across southern New Guinea, and the fauna you’ll see there is much like that of northern Australia. Magpie geese, brolgas and jabirus occupy the floodplains, as do sandy-coloured agile wallabies, Rusa deer (which were introduced a century ago) and saltwater crocodiles.
Where the dry season is shorter, however, the savannah gives way to lowland jungles, where the largest native land animal you’ll encounter is not a mammal or a reptile, but a bird – New Guinea’s southern cassowary.
It’s the nature of rainforests that their inhabitants form intimate relationships, and the cassowary stands at the centre of an intricate web. It eats the fruit of rainforest trees, its stomach strips the pulp from the fruit but passes the seeds unharmed, and from them new forest trees can grow – unless a sinister-looking parrot is nearby. The vulturine parrot is a cockatoo-sized bird with the colours of an Edwardian gentleman’s morning suit – a sombre black on the outside, but with rich vermilion linings. Its head is naked and bears a long, hooked beak, hence its common name. Until recently no one knew quite why its head was so odd – then one was seen neck-deep in cassowary faeces. The bird specialises, it seems, in picking apart reeking cassowary droppings in search of the seeds, and for such an occupation a bald head (which prevents the faeces from sticking) and a long pincer-like beak are essential requirements.
New Guinea’s snake fauna includes some extremely venomous species, such as the taipan and king brown snake, which are limited to the savannahs. Generally speaking the higher up the mountains you go, the fewer venomous snakes there are.
In the forests of New Guinea’s mountains, including its high-mountain elfin woodland, there is often a distinct chill in the air at dawn. Out of the mist you might hear the pure tones of the New Guinea whipbird, or the harsher calls of any one of a dozen birds of paradise. Just why New Guinea is home to such an astonishing variety of spectacular birds has long puzzled biologists. Part of the answer lies in the lack of mammalian predators on the island. The largest – a marsupial known as the New Guinea quoll – is only kitten-sized. Thus there are no foxes, leopards or similar creatures to prey on the birds, which as a consequence have developed such astonishing colours and spectacular mating rituals as to beggar belief.
If you can get well away from the villages, perhaps by accompanying experienced bushmen on a two- or three-day walk to distant hunting grounds, you might get to see a tree kangaroo. These creatures are relatives of Australia’s rock wallabies which, five million years ago, took to the treetops. There are eight species in New Guinea, but in the central ranges you are likely to see just two. Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo is a chestnut-coloured creature the size of a Labrador. Higher up you may encounter the bearlike Doria’s tree kangaroo. It is shaggy, brown and immensely powerful, and lives in family groups.
Where the woodland gives way to the alpine regions, the tiger parrot calls from stunted umbrella plants, rhododendron bushes and tufted orchids are covered with flowers, and any woody plants are festooned with ant plants. In a perfect example of the intimate ecological relationships that abound in the forest, the ant protects the plant, while the plant provides shelter for its tiny defenders.
Well-worn tracks wind through the alpine tussocks. Some are made by diminutive wallabies, others by giant rats. New Guinea is home to a spectacular diversity of rats, which comprise fully one-third of the mammal fauna. These distant relatives of the laboratory rat are spectacularly varied: some look like miniature otters and cavort in mountain streams, others resemble small, tree-climbing possums, while still others look, and smell, like rats from elsewhere.
In two of the highest mountain regions in PNG – the Star Mountains in the far west and Mt Albert Edward near Port Moresby – one of the country’s most enigmatic birds can be seen. Known as McGregor’s bird of paradise, it is a velvet-black bird the size of a large crow that makes a distinctive rattling sound as it flies. Under each wing is a large orange spot, and behind each eye a fleshy, flapping orange wattle of skin.
Papua New Guinea is still very much a biological frontier, so it’s worth recording carefully any unusual animal you see. In little-visited regions, there’s a chance that it will be an undescribed species. There are still hundreds of species – especially frogs, reptiles and insects – waiting to be discovered.
Australia and New Guinea have the world’s only macropods and monotremes. The agile wallaby is found in New Guinea and Australia, but most of New Guinea’s macropods are endemic tree kangaroos that are quite distinct from Australia’s species of kangaroos and wallabies.
There are 41 species of birds of paradise, of which 36 are unique to New Guinea. Two species are found in both New Guinea and northern Australia. The male Raggiana decorates the flag of PNG. Birds of paradise first appeared in European literature in 1522.
Sidebar: Top Wildlife Reads
- Throwim Way Leg, Tim Flannery
- Birds of Northern Melanesia, Jared Diamond and Ernst Mayr
- Birds of New Guinea, Thane K Pratt & Bruce Beehler
- Mammals of New Guinea, Tim Flannery
- A Handbook of New Guinea's Marsupials and Monotremes, James Menzies
The biggest environmental challenges faced by Papua New Guinea’s natural world are pollution and the destruction of rainforest habitats caused by the mining and logging industries, and the conversion of land to oil palm plantations. Nepotism and corruption have been widely recognised as impediments to implementing and policing policies that effectively manage the country's natural resources are accessed and exploited.
PNG has environmental laws in place and gives some rights to traditional land owners, but the state owns all buried mineral deposits and water resources and has the right to determine their use. Environment groups claim the government has allowed a number of profitable mines to operate in ways that are detrimental to natural and social environments.The Ok Tedi gold and copper mine, located along the upper Fly River, is government owned, makes a significant contribution to the country's GDP and provides employment and investment in the region. However, the mine's operations, in particular the discharge of mining waste materials into the river system, has adversely affected the environment downstream from the site, impacting upon the livelihoods of of tens of thousands of people living in 120 villages near the river. PNG also has several other large mines that have been strongly criticised by environmental groups for the way they discharge waste into river systems or the sea, including the Ramu mine located in the Sepik, the Pogera mine in the Highlands and the Lihir mine on Lihir Island.
The export of raw logs plays a similarly important role in PNG's economy. The World Bank cites estimates that claim 70% of all logging in PNG is conducted illegally, with primary forest being destroyed at an rapid rate. Most logging companies operating in PNG are foreign owned operations. One way logging companies obtain access to hardwood resources is via Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs), which grant 99-year rights to some 12% of the country's land area. A commission of inquiry backed by the national government has determined the vast majority of SABLs were corruptly obtained and there are ongoing legal proceedings around the revoking of the leases.
A number of the palm-oil companies, most of which are Malaysian, operate in PNG and produce sustainable palm oil that’s certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO; www.rspo.org). However, there are also numerous other oil palm plantations whose operations do meet these global standards. Companies regularly come into conflict with local communities opposed to the conversion of community forest to oil palm plantations. In a landmark case in 2014, Malaysian palm-oil giant KLK had two leases in Collingwood Bay declared illegal and cancelled at the order of PNG’s National Court.
Tim Flannery is a naturalist, ecologist, environmental activist, author and Australian of the year in 2007. He has been director of the South Australian Museum, adjunct professor at Macquarie University and is currently a professorial fellow at Melbourne University and chair of the Climate Council.
The Kokoda Story
By Peter FitzSimons
Each year around 5000 Australians walk the Kokoda Track. For them it is part pilgrimage, part opportunity to pay homage to the soldiers of WWII and part extraordinary challenge. For it is not for the faint-hearted. It’s 96km of steep terrain: humid, slippery and potentially dangerous. Local guides are needed to ensure safety and to provide stories and a connection to the environment.
Top Kokoda Reads
There is a reasonable choice of publications about Kokoda available. Here are some of our recommendations:
- Kokoda by Paul Ham (2004) – War history told from both the Japanese and Australian perspective.
- Those Ragged Bloody Heroes by Peter Brune (1992) – The Kokoda battle through the eyes of the soldiers who fought there, raising questions about the leadership.
- The Kokoda Trail: a History by Stuart Hawthorne (2003) – A 130-year history of Kokoda: colonial, missionary and adventurer presence along the trail.
- Kokoda by Peter FitzSimons (2004) – Gripping account of the WWII battle.
- Blood and Iron by Lex McAuley (1991) – The battle tale researched by an ex-Australian Army serviceman.
- The Path of Infinite Sorrow: The Japanese on the Kokoda Track by Craig Collie and Hajime Marutani (2012) – The Kokoda story told through the eyes of Japanese soldiers.
- The Kokoda Campaign 1942: Myth and Reality by Dr Peter Williams (2012) – Dispels some of the more popular myths to get to the facts.
In recent times interest in Kokoda has surged, as Australians have learned more about what occurred. It is a compelling story, an extraordinary story, and it makes Australians proud. And it was for a very good reason that Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating kissed the ground when he arrived at Kokoda in 1992, to pay tribute. It was a symbol of the fact that Australia was finally recognising what had been achieved in this place. Here, Mr Keating said, the Australian soldiers were not fighting for Empire; they were fighting ‘not in defence of the Old World but the New World. Their world. They fought for their own values.’ Which was why, he explained, ‘for Australians, the battles in Papua New Guinea were the most important ever fought.’
- 7 December 1941
The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.
- 15 February 1942
Singapore falls to the invading Japanese forces.
- 4–8 May 1942
In the Battle of the Coral Sea, around the eastern tip of New Guinea, the US Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy savage each other to such an extent that the only way left for the Japanese to take Port Moresby is overland, via the Kokoda Track.
- 21 July 1942
Japanese forces land on the north coast of New Guinea, at the top of the Kokoda Track.
- 28 July 1942
The Japanese take the small outpost of Kokoda – significant because its airstrip is the only one in the area – and in the process kill the commander of Australia’s 39th Battalion, the key force opposing them.
- 26 August 1942
The Battle of Isurava begins. It ends on 30 August, as the Australians, bloodied but unbowed, pull back.
- 8 September 1942
The Battle of Brigade Hill. Again, the Japanese eventually prevail, but are severely weakened. Before the month is out, the Japanese at Ioribaiwa Ridge, overlooking Port Moresby, receive orders from Tokyo to ‘advance to the rear’.
- 22 January 1943
The last Japanese at the head of the track surrender; the Kokoda campaign is finally over.
A Historical Synopsis
Written on your thumbnail, the story of the Kokoda Track goes like this…
The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, and were at war with the Allies, including Australia, almost immediately thereafter. From there, Japan’s superbly trained army swept through Southeast Asia knocking over country after country, stronghold after stronghold, including most notably Singapore on 15 February 1942. By late July '42, the first of an initial wave of 13,000 Japanese soldiers landed on the north coast of New Guinea and set off south along a jungle track that passed through the tiny outpost of Kokoda before coming out near Port Moresby – which it was their intention to occupy. The Australian military and political leadership was alarmed at the possibility that, if successful, the Japanese would be able to use Port Moresby as a base from which to launch south, perhaps landing in Queensland, Australia. However, in the first instance only 400 inexperienced militia soldiers of the 39th Battalion could be mustered to stop the Japanese invaders, or at least hold them up long enough for the more experienced veterans of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) – who were being rushed forward – to get there.
The legend of the Kokoda Track, thus, concerns firstly the story of what happened when those two forces met in the middle, at a place called Isurava, and then the subsequent actions up and down the length of the track, with the ‘front line’ – such as it was – often being judged by where the pointy end of the bayonet of the most forward troops of each army could be found.
The fighting at Isurava was savage and without mercy from either side. And yet, while through sheer weight of numbers and an almost suicidal courage the Japanese finally prevailed at Isurava, in so doing they used up much of their fighting force. Certainly, the Japanese soldiers nevertheless pressed on, down the track – being ambushed all the way by the Australians, who now set out to weaken them further – but ultimately the invaders were all but exhausted by the time those that remained could get to within rough sight of Moresby.
It was there, at Ioribaiwa Ridge, that the Japanese military leadership (having no word for ‘retreat’) ordered their soldiers to ‘advance to the rear’. The Australians were able to chase the Japanese back down the same track whence they came, all the way back to where they had first landed. More bitter fighting ensued as the Japanese dug in with fresh reinforcements, but at last, with the help of newly arrived American forces, it was all over on 22 January 1943. That was the day that the last Japanese resistance was wiped out at the head of the track, and the Australian flag was raised in those parts once more.
In the course of the previous six months in New Guinea, Australia had lost 2165 troops, with 3533 wounded. The US, which had only come into action very late in the piece, had lost 671 troops, with 2172 wounded. It was the Japanese, operating so far from their homeland, with military officers perhaps less concerned with the sanctity of their soldiers’ lives, who suffered most. Some 20,000 Japanese troops landed in Papua, of which it is estimated the Japanese lost 13,000.
Peter FitzSimons is a journalist, ex-Wallaby and author of Kokoda.
The People of PNG
PNG people are closely related to people from other parts of the Pacific. There are Papuans, the first arrivals; Melanesians, who represent 95% of people and are related to people from the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia; Polynesians, related to New Zealand Maori, Tongans, Samoans and Hawaiian islanders; and Micronesians, related to people in the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Nauru.
The total population of PNG is 7,275,324, of which only 13% live in urban areas, most of the rest are subsistence farmers. Nearly two million people live in the Highlands, the most densely populated part of the country. Many Highlanders migrate to Port Moresby and elsewhere, but few coastal people move into the Highlands. Melanesian people still identify more strongly with their clan links and their origins than with the people they come to live with, so enclaves exist in the settlement areas of the big cities, and there is a traditional distrust between Highlanders and coastal people.
There is a great chasm between PNG's small minority of university-educated urbanites, who lead sophisticated middle-class lives, and the illiterate subsistence farmers and hunters in the remotest reaches of the country, who live entirely off the land and who may never have seen a town. Everybody else falls somewhere in between.
The majority of PNG's population is rural; 40% lives below the poverty line and in many rural communities people live completely outside the cash economy, with no electricity or sanitation and very few possessions, bartering for what they need. They build their houses out of sago palm, grow tubers and betel nut, and supplement their diet with what they can catch in the jungle or fish in the rivers and along the coast. Rural dwellers' daily rhythms tend to be dictated by the sun and the seasons and their livelihood is particularly vulnerable to droughts and other plagues of nature.
Change is afoot. People marry more outside their traditional clans and homelands, and tok ples is becoming replaced in some villages with Tok Pisin. Isolated communities are being confronted with foreign mining and logging operations and associated changes. More and more rural dwellers move to the capital and find themselves living in squalor in city-fringe settlements, and tribal life finds itself in conflict with an urban existence.
Yet urban or rural, most PNG dwellers chew buai (betel nut), go to church, revere dead ancestors and fear masalais (malevolent spirits).
Ownership in the Western sense didn’t exist in traditional PNG societies; instead ownership was a concept tied up in family and clan rights, controlled by elders.
In traditional Melanesian culture there are three main areas of everyday importance – prestige, pigs and gardening. A village chief shows wealth by owning and displaying certain traditional valuables, or by hosting lavish feasts where dozens of pigs are slaughtered. Bigmen (important men or leaders) don’t inherit their titles, although being the son of a chief has advantages. Bigmen must earn their titles by accolades in war, wisdom in councils, magic-practice skills and the secret arts that are tambu (taboo) for women. Particularly in the Highlands, people have to be made aware how wealthy bigmen are, so ceremonial life in this region focuses on ostentatious displays and in giving things away.
There are various ways in which this is formalised; it’s part of a wide circle of exchange and interclan relationships. Wealth is never really given away in the Western sense. Your gifts cement a relationship with the receiver, who then has obligations to you. Obligation and payback are deadly serious in Highlands culture; Melanesia has no privileged classes, but individuals still inherit land through their parents. Land ownership is extremely important in PNG and the Solomons, and every single scrap of land belongs to someone. Disputes over land ownership today arise from the clash between collective (clan) ownership and Western-style personal ownership.
Pigs are extremely valuable; they’re sometimes regarded as family members and you may see them being walked on leads in the Highlands.
Animism, Christianity & Spirit Houses
People in both countries still maintain animist beliefs. Despite the inroads of Christianity, ancestor worship is still important. The netherworld is also inhabited by spirits, both protective and malevolent, and there are creation myths that involve animal totems. This is stronger in certain areas: islanders from Malaita in the Solomons worship sharks while some Sepik River people revere crocodiles. Jesus coexists with traditional beliefs without supplanting them.
Men’s cults are widespread throughout Melanesia and involve the ritualised practice of ‘the arts’ and ancestor worship in men’s houses and haus tambarans (spirit houses). This can involve the building and display of certain ceremonial objects, song and dance, and the initiation of boys into manhood. It manifests in different ways in different societies, but it is very secretive and deadly serious – in the Sepik boys are cut with crocodile markings as part of their initiation, while Tolais boys are visited by dukduks (spiritual costumes) to perform their initiation rites. While men’s business and haus tambarans are tambu for women, men’s cults and their initiation rites are all about rebirth.
Many PNG Christians feel a profound connection to Israel, hence the Israeli flags on some people's cars and houses, and some Gogodala tribes view themselves as a Lost Tribe of Israel.
Since Saudi Arabia began offering higher education scholarships to young men in PNG, Wahhabism has taken root in some places in the Highlands since some find Islam to be close to their own Melanesian culture, especially regarding gender roles.
Sexual politics are complicated in traditional Melanesian society. In some places in the Highlands husband and wife don’t live together at all, and sexual relations are not to be taken lightly. Some Melanesian men have two or more wives. In many belief systems men consider women dangerous, especially during menstruation. In many places land rights pass through the mother, and older women can wield great power in the villages.
Women carry kago (cargo) in bilums (string bags) home from the market while the man walks unburdened. Women do most of the food gardening, and in some parts of the Sepik, they do the fishing also. Traditionally, men practise arts that are exclusively their domain and, although these can sometimes be shown to women travellers, they are still tambu for local women.
According to reports by Human Rights Watch and other NGOs Papua New Guinea has one of the world's highest rates of domestic violence and violence against women in general (at its worst in the Highlands), with an estimated 70% of women experiencing assault or rape during their lifetimes. Domestic violence has long been criminalised, but perpetrators are seldom held accountable. UNICEF reports that nearly half of rape victims are under 15 years old and 13% are under seven years old.
In recent years, PNG has been brought to international attention for the most unwholesome of reasons: the lynchings or torture-murders of those accused of practising sorcery. Belief in sorcery is widespread throughout PNG, particularly in the Highlands, and unexplained deaths tend to be attributed to the practise of dark magic. Those accused of sorcery are almost invariably women, particularly those who tend to stand out somehow. It wasn't until 2013 that the 1971 Act that made sorcery illegal was abolished; it was previously seen as a valid legal defense for those accused of murdering 'sorcerers'.
The Wantok System
Fundamental to Melanesian culture is the idea of wantoks (meaning ‘one talk’ in Tok Pisin) and your wantoks are your clan or kinfolk. Every Melanesian is born with duties to their family, extended family, friends and finally wantoks (in that order) but they also have privileges. Within the clan and village, each person can expect to be housed and fed, and to share in the community’s assets.
The wantok system is an essential support system in the poor communities all over PNG and the Solomon Islands. For villagers, it is an egalitarian way for the community to share its spoils and a means of survival in a country with no other 'safety nets'. In rapidly changing circumstances, the village and the clan provide basic economic support as well as a sense of belonging.
However, when these ideas are transposed to politics and social affairs, it becomes nepotism and, at worst, corruption. Candidates don’t get to run without the support of their fellow bigmen (important men or leaders), who expect that when ‘their’ candidate is elected, their generosity will be repaid. The wantok system is also the greatest disincentive to enterprise.
The wantok system is a microcosm of the battle being waged between the modern and the traditional in PNG and the Solomons. It is so deeply entrenched that some educated youngsters choose to move away from their families to avoid the calls for handouts. And without it, life would be much harder for many others. Just saying ‘no’ to a wantok is rarely an option.
PNG’s arts are regarded as the most striking and varied in the Pacific, and Solomon Islanders, being great carvers, are part of the same cultural tradition. The lack of contact between different villages and groups of people has led to a potent array of indigenous art.
In traditional societies, dance, song, music, sculpture and body adornment were related to ceremonies. Art was either utilitarian (such as bowls or canoes) or religious. Since European contact, art has become objectified. There have always been master carvers and mask-makers, but their role in traditional cultures was to enable the ceremonies and rituals to be performed correctly, and to serve the clan and chief.
The production of artefacts is itself often ceremonial and ritualistic. On some of the islands, secret men’s societies build dukduks or carve malangan masks (totemic figures honouring the dead). Women are forbidden to look upon a dukduk or malangan until it is brought to life in a ceremony by a fierce anonymous character.
Bringing Indigenous Artefacts Abroad
If you're bringing some of PNG's wonderful indigenous art home, make sure you know the regulations of your home country. Australia in particular has very strict guidelines and all items must be declared. Woodcarvings must not have the telltale holes of burrowing insects, or else they will be fumigated at the owner's expense; clean feathers are okay, but cassowary feathers are illegal; no grass or seeds, but shells are fine.
Bill Bennett’s In a Savage Land (1999), filmed in the Trobriands, is about a couple of anthropologists in the 1930s and their take on the ‘Islands of Love’. Australian musician David Bridie’s soundtrack won a bunch of awards.
Sidebar: Linguistic Diversity
PNG is the most linguistically complex country in the world with more than 12% of the world’s living languages – 822 living languages – but many have less than 1000 speakers. In the Solomon Islands alone, more than 70 languages are spoken.
Sidebar: Cargo Cults
After the great American military machine left at the end of WWII, cargo cults began to sprout. People built runways for imaginary planes to land on and deliver kago (material wealth from the skies).
Sidebar: Top Singers & Albums
- Narasirato, Tangio Tumas
- George Telek, Serious Tam
- Hausboi, Diriman
- O-Shen, Faya
- Sharzy, Hem Stret
- Litol Rastas, Dollar Man
- Tipa, Maiae
- Lani Singers, Ninalik Ndawi
- Naka Blood, Naka Blood
- Akay47, Brand Niu Day
Sidebar: Bride Price
Bride price is the formalised gift-giving of money and traditional valuables to the father of a would-be bride. It might include shell money, cash, pigs and even SP Lager. Part of becoming a man and commanding respect is working hard to raise a bride price so you can marry.