The Chief of State of newly-independent Papua-New Guinea was initiated as the Sana or Chief of the Saet Clan in rites at the village of Karau on January 5.
The Chief of State of newly-independent Papua-New Guinea was initiated as the Sana or Chief of the Saet Clan in rites at the village of Karau on January 5. It was the first time a Sana has been installed since 1938.
Mr. Michael Somare agreed to the initiation because he was concerned that many of the traditions were being forgotten because of Western and missionary influences.
The village prepared for the ceremony for weeks. All the clan members and ???tire neighbouring villages were invited.
The ceremony started on the night of January 4, when Mr. Somare entered the village spirit house with elders of the clan. The elders spent the night whispering clan secrets to Mr. Somare and, it is said, the clan spirit mingled with the men and joined the rites. Mr. Somare then left the spirit house and the retiring chief entered to divest himself of the symbols of office. Mr. Somare re-entered and was dressed in the robes of the Sana.
He emerged and walked to the throne while clan members prostrated themselves in front of him or sprayed him with coconut juice to symbolise the way was open. After Mr. Somare took the throne and was paid homage, the feasting, dancing and singing began.
MR. Somare did ask for some changes in the traditional ceremony. He had no tattoos and did not have his nose and ears pierced. The fasting was eliminated and the feast considerably shortened. The rite usually takes about three months but this time lasted only eight hours because of the ??? of Mr. Somare's duties as Chief of State.