PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT

Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai‘i

 

Feature

PINGELAPESE CELEBRATE 100TH ANNIVERSARY ON SOKEHS, POHNPEI

By Bill Jaynes
POHNPEI, Federated States of Micronesia (Kaselehlie Press, Jan. 11, 2012) - 2012 is an important year for the community of Pingelapese people living in Mwalok on Sokehs island in Phonpei. The parade that they held this morning and the feast at their community house was not only to celebrate the New Year but also the 100th anniversary celebration of their coming to Sokehs Island in 1912.

In an email inviting the editor of The Kaselehlie Press to be one of three judges for the parade event, Ludickson Edward, one of the event organizers explained a bit about the history of the Pingelap community in Mwalok and the importance of the event. He said that when the people of Sokehs were deported to Palau during the German Administration in 1911, the German Government needed to bring in people to live in Sokehs to assist with the copra production.

In 1912 a typhoon struck the outer islands and wiped out most of the crops including those in Pingelap. A Pingelap community was established in Sokehs in 1912. August 12, 2012 will be the 100th anniversary for the community.

"This makes 2012 a special year for the Pingelap Community. So we will be celebrating New Year and at the same time welcome the special year," he wrote.

Just like Pingelap itself, the community is divided into four geographic segments, Pwihn Keiou, Pwihn Keriau, Pwihn Kesilu, and Pwihn Kepahu. The parade carried the theme "Go Local." Each of the four participating groups, one from each geographic area was asked to represent that theme through their costumes.

To help keep judging fair and democratic there were three judges for the parade; Ringlen Ringlen, Interim President of the College of Micronesia FSM, Joseph Habuchmai COM-FSM’s Vice President for Administrative Services, and Bill Jaynes, Managing Editor of The Kaselehlie Press.

Groups dressed in taro, coconut, fern, and ginger leaves assembled adjacent to the Diamond Head Apartments in Mwalok and marched to their community house across the street from the Mwalok Church.

There they gathered for a massive feast and a traditional pig slaughter. One of the organizers said that 62 pigs gave up their lives for the gathering.

One of the leaders of the community said that while many other communities including the neighboring community of Danpei celebrated their New Year’s Day by banging on drums, acetylene tanks, biscuit tins and anything else that would make noise, the Pingelapese community jointly decided to honor Sunday with a day of quiet. Certainly the Mwalok noise ban was off by January 2 and the happy din of car horns, sirens, air horns, and drums was sometimes loud enough as to be painful. He said that since school was scheduled to begin on Wednesday, January 4 the community had decided to allow the noisy celebration to continue through midnight on Tuesday night. He said that Danpei would likely celebrate for the entire week.

Each of the groups participating in the parade were excellent and it was obvious that each group had worked extremely hard on their presentations but as in all contests there are winners. The winners in today’s event were Pwihn Kesilu, the blue team, in first place, bedecked in woven coconut leaves. Pwihn Kepahu, the yellow team was the second place winner in their costumes of fern leaves. Wearing ginger leaf costumes, Pwihn Kepahu, the red team won the third prize in the parade. Extremely creative taro leaf costumes earned the White Team, Pwihn Keiou the fourth place prize.

The Kaselehlie Press

Copyright 2012 The Kaselehlie Press


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