Honiara Pacific Arts Festival Closing Ceremony
20th July 2012 (1)
11th Festival of Pacific Arts Closing Ceremony
What a spectacular cultural feast we experienced with the closing of the 11th pacific arts festival in Honiara. Our va’a Gaualofa having said our farewells to the rest of the fleet 2 days earlier had stayed to be part of the closing ceremony. Starting with a street march to the stadium, each country one behind the other lead by their national flag bearer sang, danced, waved along the way. I think also a lot of us were in awe as the crowd along the street sides really started to build up in numbers and enthusiasm. Arriving just outside the stadium awaiting our call we were meet by the many varied peoples of the Solomons from their different islands and provinces. All in traditional dress lining our path into the stadium.
Behind them hundreds of people, cheering and waving. Smiles and laughter everywhere. Then we heard our call.”Introducing Samoa”. The crowd was electrifying. Thousands of people everywhere. All around the hills were thick with people. It was loud. The big hollo
w drums, a familiar sound around the pacific, were beating loudly from different areas of the arena. To the dance music of the bamboo pipe bands of the Solomons to the noise of the cheering crowd. To walk in to this packed stadium as part of our motherland contingent representing Gaualofa and her sister vakas was an honour and privilege to be long remembered.
On the hill was a large coordinated group of people who would show above their heads different placards which when viewed together from afar would be a huge national flag of the country walking past. This would create a response from the country to the crowd in the hills. Dance or haka the crowd would just go wild. We gathered in the center of the stadium as the speeches and presentation of gifts were delivered. Gathered as we were country by country I could not help but notice the varied tribes of the Solomon Islands. Here they were standing shoulder to shoulder celebrating this event. Celebrating themselves. Not so long ago this would not have been the case. It was said 200,000 people attended or were involved with the Pacific arts festival. And when it came to the finale it almost felt like a good portion of them were here. Costumed birds, alligators, fish, giant people covered in grass, people fully painted blue, yellow, orange, green with flags. As well as the different tribes of the Solomons and with their uniqueness all dancing in time to the drums and the sounds of the bamboo sounds of the Solomons.
The crowd did not stop cheering. Then the fireworks, what a show, there were so many that it felt as if we were in it. A great show and a high bar set for Guam 2016 to follow. I think it was great to see the high involvement of the children in all that I had seen. They gave a great performance and a valuable lesson for them in front of their world.
Many Thanks Solomon Islands for the 11th Pacific arts festival. See you in Guam 2016