A Trip through Dagga 1984 Part 1

Flying from Port Moresby to Alotau, I walked through the unserviced streets to find the hut of a contact provided me by friends in the Baha’i Faith in Port Moresby. I stayed there a few days, until the plane left for Aragip, in the Dagga language group region in the north of Milne Bay Province, on the southern parts of the Owen-Stanley ranges.
I was the first white man to travel to Dagga since independence of Papua New Guinea from the protectorateship of Australia, in 1975. I was met off theplane in Arigip by a young man who was starting a coffee marketing business for the Dagga people. The Dagga people had been introduced to the Baha’i Faith about a year earlier by a Malaysian man of Tamil extraction – in otherwords a man with a very black skin. The reason I mention this will become evident later in this story and in some ways goes to the heart of what we need to and can do to make this world a better place.
Soon after arrival in Dagga, the Baha’i Faith held a unit convention which is the election of a delegate to go to the National convention and elect the national council of the Baha’i Faith, called the National Spiritual Assembly. I recollect being surprised that the speeches given prior to the election process(although not all was translated to me) included the equality of men and women and for women to be considered equally in the election process. I noticed after this that, indeed, women had been elected to local Baha’i Councils (Spiritual Assemblies). The issue of the relationship between the people and the Baha’i ‘authority’ was a repeated discussion throughout my trek in this region. Remember I was 24 years old, had also only been a member of the Baha’i Faith for one year, and had no authority in the Baha’i Faith at all. However I did my best to represent what I knew honestly and clearly.
It became clear during this trip that, although illiterate for the best part, there was significant biblical knowledge among those who were literate and even from aural memory. It also became clear that people had kept knowledge of pre-Christian religion, and there was still some dissonance between the old and the newer religious influences on their lives, not only from a theological but a social viewpoint.
I will continue my story in parts as I can come back to it.

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