The Importance of Political Expression in PNG Music

Free SpeechThere has been a long history between music and politics, particularly political expression in music. This expression can use anti- establishment or protest themes, including anti-war songs, and can also use pro-establishment ideas such as national anthems, patriotic songs, and political campaigns.

Many of these types of songs could be described as topical songs. Unlike many other types of music, political music is not usually ambiguous, and is used to portray a specific political message. While the political message in political music is apparent, it is usually in the political context of the time it was made – which makes understanding the historical events and time that inspired the music essential to fully understanding the message in the music. Since political music is meant to be heard by the people, it is often meant to be popular.

In a country where access to our leaders is somewhat “restricted” (in comparison to other First Wold Commonwealth democracies) due to a number of reasons – cultural reasons, geography, lack of education, illiteracy etc., political expression in music is extremely important. It allows the people of Papua New Guinea to express their thoughts and views via a medium that not only offers them the opportunity to do so but also allows them to effectively share their views with others. And if the band has a cult following, such as Barike, then the possibility of their opinions being heard and maybe even addressed significantly increases – more so than if they simply wrote a letter to the Prime Minister.

The following is one of my favourite politically charged Tok Pisin songs:

Giaman Tu i Orait by BARIKE

Yu kam na campaign na yu tok aut
Long ol policy bilong pati bilong yu
Yu promis na yu tok strong olsem bai mipela votim yu

CHORUS:

Sapos yu tok bai yu wokim aid post (yu mas wokim)
Sapos yu tok bai yu wokim skul (yu mas wokim)
Sapos yu tok bai yu wokim airstrip (yu mas wokim)
Yes, yu mas wokim tu

Mipela bilip na votim yu
Taim yu kamap Bik Man mipela nomo lukim yu
Ol progek yu tok bai yu wokim
I go wara nating
Mipela laikim wanpela gutpela man
I save tok tru na i no save giaman
Mipela ol pipol i lis pinis long tromoi vote
nating

(CHORUS)

Sapos yu tok bai yu wokim aid post
Sapos yu tok bai yu wokim skul
Sapos yu tok bai yu wokim haus sik
Yes, yu mas wokim tu
Sapos yu tok bai yu wokim rot
Sapos yu tok bai yu wokim bris
Sapos yu tok bai yu wokim airstrip
Yes, yu mas wokim tu

~ by Tavurvur on January 12, 2009.

One Response to “The Importance of Political Expression in PNG Music”

  1. COOL political song,it potrays the reality of our leaders which can also be seen in ma home country of solomon islands. I hope our leaders can learn from such songs thus i appreciate bands composing songs regarding such issues rather than on boy and girl relationships which believe is not important for our survival in a corrupt governing body.

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