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Message of Hope
Artistic Melanesia is the name and location of a dream. It is an ideal and a road marker on the path to emancipation. It is an appeal to our senses of self awareness and self respect. A reaffirmation of the indigenous or autochthonous integrity and human right to cultural survival.

If you share that dream, please take a moment to ponder about where you are standing right at the moment... What do we think about ourselves? What do we call ourselves? How do we categorise ourselves? ... Why do we need to categorise ourselves?

Melanesia got its named because its people are black inhabitants of these numerous and scattered Pacific Islands. You may wonder to yourself how we got so named and who gave us this label that classified us as a separate human race. You may also wonder how that label may have contributed to the way we have been regarded, missionised and colonised over centuries. How that classification may have justified the ill treatment our elders experienced as they came face to face in confrontation with the West. Consider the forced labour of our people in the past, the many racist laws that were ordained by government against our people but also the way we continue to be regarded, dominated and exploited by global forces. Why are we still the collateral damage, the scapegoats, the necessary sacrifice for greater progress?

But yet, what may be even more disturbing is when you suddenly realise that we ourselves as modern Melanesians are now struggling with our acquired labels and our own sense of identity. Many of us are unable to describe our own existence and identity without reference to biblical or Western points of departure.

Much of what we do today is a reaction to western culture and to global trends. This in itself is fine. But the danger to cultural survival comes when the search for our natural place on earth,  only starts at a superficial point of the struggle with imposed labels and not from a more profound definition of our proper humanity.

Today, apart from attending to our realities of nation building, we also have to find the strength and the strategies to confront many labels with which our people have been branded: savages, wild cannibals, heathen, unconverted, unbaptised, undeveloped, underdeveloped, undiscovered, uneducated, struggling, undemocratic, unsound, uneconomical, corrupt, hopeless - it's a long list.

It is difficult when we have suffered so much prejudice and labeling to see which of our many labels require our most urgent attention and care. It is a normal and recognised human phenomenon for battered people to shut down their full attentive capacities. It may be referred to as 'growing thick skin'. But we have to wake up now. It is time to save ourselves.

In our search for emancipation, it is crucial that we not become embroiled in a material mess of short term events some of which may serve to validate prejudice and the labels of prejudice.

Many of our labels may by definition, be correct and valid at certain points of history. But they also form a huge and daunting filter through which we have to look in order to stay in touch with our own dignity and to continue to have the vision and a dream of emancipation.

It is in this chaos of crosswinds, on this windswept shore, battered by the waves of globalisation that we shall beach our canoe and set ourselves to build the first shelter for our wounded self determination. It is in spite of everything that is against the free will of our vulnerable cultures that we shall attend to repairing the cradles of own humanity.

As artists, we bear the great responsibilty of restoring human pride and self respect. But we shall see the day when this task is done. It will be a day of celebration, a day when we can do no wrong because everything will have found its rightful place and not a song shall be out of tune. This day will seen here on earth and shall not be relegated to the spirit world of the afterlife.
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