Wovan - History and Cultural Relations

Cut off by a mountain spur that ran parallel to the Jimi River, the Wovan remained undisturbed by European-Australian contact until 1962, when a patrol led by J. A. Johnston, out of Tabibuga, in the Western Highlands Province, entered Wovan territory. While the Wovan treated the outsiders with considerable suspicion and caution, no hostilities were Reported. For many years large segments of the population simply avoided the yearly government patrols when they passed through the territory. Only 161 persons presented themselves at the first census in 1968. Village leaders ( luluai, tultul ) were appointed by the patrol officers to act as intermediaries Between the people and the government. Government health and agricultural officers visited Wovan territory on a regular basis, encouraging changes in burial practices, improved hygiene, and the adoption of coffee as a cash crop. A government-sponsored medical aid post, staffed by a medical orderly, was established at Fitako in the mid-1970s. The Anglican church established a mission station, staffed by members of the Melanesian Brotherhood, at Aradip in 1977. The Church of the Nazarene, a fundamentalist sect, established outlier mission churches at Funkafunk and on the fringe of Wovan territory near Aradip. The conflict in Religious messages has engendered considerable confusion among the Wovan, leading a number of them simply to avoid the missionaries.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: