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Audio Postcard: Celebration in Papua New Guinea

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Audio Postcard: Celebration in Papua New Guinea

Audio Postcard: Celebration in Papua New Guinea

Audio Postcard: Celebration in Papua New Guinea

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/7851373/7851374" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Goroka Show is the social event of the year in Goroka, the capital of Eastern Highlands Province. Skye Rohde hide caption

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Skye Rohde

The Goroka Show is the social event of the year in Goroka, the capital of Eastern Highlands Province.

Skye Rohde

With abundant music, colors, grass skirts and headdresses, the Goroka Show is almost sensory overload. Skye Rohde hide caption

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Skye Rohde

With abundant music, colors, grass skirts and headdresses, the Goroka Show is almost sensory overload.

Skye Rohde

Papua New Guinea is a young country, just 31 years old, and in many ways it is still settling into its post-colonial identity. But its traditions are thousands of years old.

There are more than 800 languages spoken in Papua New Guinea, and even more traditional songs and dances. Papua New Guineans love to share them at the two-day-long "cultural shows" that are held around the country every year.

At last year's Goroka Show in the Highlands region of the country, dozens of groups sang and marched down the capital's bumpy streets. The show is the social event of the year in Goroka, trumping even church — which, in a very Christian country like Papua New Guinea, is saying a lot.

The show lasts for hours: groups march in one by one, and stake out their patches of grass. After the initial ooh-and-aah of it, people wander away to buy a Coke, a Fanta, maybe some Cheeto-like Twisties if there's cash to spare. But eventually, attendees are drawn back to the singing and dancing.

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