The Kewa Program
Some of the information in this chapter is dated because I have not visited the Kewa area since 2005 (for the dedication of the East Kewa NT). However, I have continued to be in contact with Kewa speakers and I believe the site will be useful as a baseline for anyone who does research in the area and wishes to have some information on the state of things up until the end of the 1990s, when we last lived in the West Kewa area. With this in mind, we provide some information on education and health services at the time, as well as a history of our involvement with the Kewa people.
This section outlines briefly the activities we were involved in amongst the Kewas for the past 50+ years.
3.1 / Orientation and Geography
The Kewa people (also Kewapi or Pole, for East and South Kewa) live in the Mendi, Kagua, Ialibu and Pangia Districts of the Southern Highlands Province. The altitude varies from 6300′ (2100m) around Ialibu to 3500′ (1165m) in the Erave valley. The land includes swamp areas around Ialibu and Kuare, short grasslands in the Kagua and Sugu valleys, and limestone ridges in the southern areas.
The Kewa cultural area is located between 6°15′ and 6°40′ north latitude and 143°7″ and 144°1″ east longitude. Two prominent mountains, Giluwe (4,400m) and Ialibu (3,300m) lie to the north and northeast of the area. The area is part of the central cordillera which is a complex system of ranges and broad upland valleys with forest, wild cane and grasslands. There are many limestone escarpments as well as strike ridges composed of sedimentary rocks. The Kagua (1,500m) and Erave (1,300m) areas have extensive plateaus. The average yearly rainfall in the Kagua area (the central part of Kewa) is 310cm and the temperature is 17–26°C during the day and 9–17°C at night. There is no marked wet–dry season, although June–August and December are usually the driest months.
The Kewa people speak three major, mutually intelligible dialects. The name Kewa is not indigenous, in that areas are known only by the names of the clans that occupy them and not by more generic terms. The people refer to themselves as those who speak the adaa agaa(le), i.e. “the large/important language”.
One major river network drains the entire area. In the northwest, the Mendi River flows into Kewa area just south of Mendi town and it is joined by the Ankura which drains the southern slopes of Mt. Giluwe to the northwest. The Ankura is joined from the east by the Kagua which drains the southern slopes of the Vakari range and the Kagua valley. The Ankura also drains the Lai and Nembi to the west before becoming the Erave River. The Sugu River joins the Erave which extends southeast, south and east for some 125 miles (200km) before joining the Purari River, eventually flowing into the Gulf.
In 1989 the estimated population was 63,600 but by 2000 it had grown to 100,000 for the three dialects. There is a population density from 15–40 persons per sq.km., although in some areas it is much less. The population is now growing at the rate of almost 5% per year with a fluctuating resident population due to outmigration to towns and plantations. In the 18–40 age bracket 35–40% of the people were non–resident in their village or parish. The major towns in the Kewa area are Kagua and Erave, with Mendi and Ialibu on the northern border. Only Mendi has more than 1,000 permanent residents.1
The ancestors of the Kewa (the proto-Engan people) most likely lived in the area now occupied by the Central Enga people, which is well to the north and northwest. There are also very old trade links which extend southwest to Lake Kutubu and along the Kikori River, as well as northwest to the Upper Mendi. The first European contact was probably by Jack Hides and James O’Mally, who penetrated the Kewa area in 1935, followed by I. Champion and C.J. Adamson in 1936. There was little contact again until the early 1950s. Since that time both the missions and the government have built airstrips, schools, roads, and medical facilities.
3.2 / Economic Factors
Coffee provides the most income for Kewa families throughout the area, with buyers often frequenting the main roads during coffee season. Some cash is generated in local markets with the sale of vegetables, bananas, scones and pork, both cooked and raw. In recent years, basket craftsmen earn cash through sales to local missions and in Mendi, Mt. Hagen, Goroka, Lae and even Ukarumpa. Pigs are also a main source of income, with large ones bringing K1,200–K1,300 in cash.
In the 1960’s, the government introduced a number of development programs to generate cash, but these have largely failed. One was cattle which went well in a number of hamlets for awhile, but the amount of work involved led to the demise of most of the projects, except in the Sugu area where a large commercial cattle industry thrived. However, by the early 1990s it was phased out and people began concentrating on coffee. The government also introduced tea and a large plantation was planted in the Usa area of West Kewa. However, the source was too far from the factories in the Wahgi Valley, an important factor in the tea industry, so the plantation is overgrown and unused. The government introduced pyrethrum in the East Kewa area late 1960’s, but that program also folded after a few years.
A large number of school leavers have found jobs in towns and send money back regularly to their rural families, especially for sibling’s school fees. A few local men were employed by the provincial Department of Health to spray for malaria control, but the program has not been in operation now for over 10 years. A number of Kewa men have been employed to work on the Kagua–Mendi Road which requires maintenance.
3.3 / Linguistic Situation
Kewa is part of the Mendi–Kewa sub–group of the Engan Family of languages (Wurm 1982; Foley 1986). The Engan F. is, in turn, a part of the Highlands Stock of the Papuan Phylum. Kewa also has some relationships, both culturally and linguistically, with groups to the south and west towards Lake Kutubu.2 The Kewa script, according to the dialect area, has 13–15 consonants, 6 vowels and 2 tones (Franklin and Franklin 1962; J. Franklin 1965).
The Kewa people speak three main dialects (Franklin 1968). The estimate of total Kewa speakers in 1958 when the Franklins first went to the Kewa area was 25,000. Government figures from 1965–1966 show the total population to be 39,453 divided as follows: West Kewa, 17,921 including 6,864 in the Northwestern sub–dialect; 17,758 in the East dialect; 3,774 in the South dialect, including 404 in the Southeastern sub–dialect. Figures from the Provincial Data System, Mendi, dated 1979, showed an average annual increase of 2.7 percent in the thirteen intervening years. Therefore, the total population by 1990 was about 63,633 divided as follows: West Kewa, 28,905 including 11,071 in NW sub–dialect; East Kewa, 28,642; South Kewa, 6,086 including 651 in the SW sub–dialect. We have examined the 2000 census figures and estimate the dialect populations as follows, based on the rapid growth in the SHP (the most of any Province in the country, over 5%): West Kewa, 45,000; East Kewa (Kewapi), 45,000, South Kewa (Pole), 10,000, for a total number of 100,000 Kewa speakers, by far one of the larger PNG languages.
East and West Kewa are lexically related by about 78 per cent are both are much closer to each other than either is to West Kewa. West Kewa is most closely related to Mendi, but Kewa is also related to Sau (south and southeast of Erave), and to a lesser degree, to Wiru (east of the Kewa). All of these languages (as well as Enga, Huli, Lembena, Bisorio and Ipili) belong to the Engan Family (once called the West Central Family) . Imbongu (north Ialibu) is related to Kewa only on a stock level.
3.4 / Social Situation
The Kewa people mirror the social problems in other parts of the country. There is a gradual erosion of family cohesion with the exodus of young people to the towns and other areas to work (oil, plantations, and gold, for example) or to attain higher education. Divorce is more common, as is adultery and prostitution. Rascal activity has increased and alcohol consumption has had a negative impact upon most Kewa areas, especially villages near the roads, and a number of beer establishments serve the communities. Drugs (marijuana) is reported to be used in the towns and HIV–AIDs has become a problem.
There is ongoing fighting over contested land and sorcery–attributed deaths are common between clans considered to be historical enemies. This fighting generates much fear and animosity and makes travel unsafe in some areas. Deaths are often attributed to forms of sorcery.
However, since many people are theoretically able to travel about freely and find jobs in centres, the resident population fluctuates accordingly. From the 1990 census databank in Mendi, figures for the West Kagua Kewa area were representative of the percentages of population that are resident v. absent at a given time in a village. At ages 46 and up, about 11 percent of the population are males and 13 percent are females who are resident, so the percentage away from the village is negligible. From ages 18–45, about 22 percent of the males and 34 percent of the females are resident, and 30–40 percent of the males and 35–39 percent of the females are non-resident. At ages 7–17, 22 percent of the males and 28 percent of the females are resident; 22–30 percent of the males and 28–30 percent of the females are non–resident. Between the ages of 5–6, 8 percent of the males and 9 percent of the females are resident with non–residents negligible. Ages 0–4 is 11 percent male and 10 percent female percentage of the population. We do not know if these figures represent the situation today.
There have been many changes through the years in the availability of western goods. Today, except in the farthest corners of the Kewa area, people wear clothing bought at markets or at secondhand clothing outlets in towns. The traditional pandanas leaf umbrella/mat has largely been replaced by plastic sheeting and the umbrella. Around the centres, Cokes and cheese–pops are standard diet items. Clinics that once dispensed medicines for diarrhea, headaches and sores are now lacking for most services. Roads throughout the area make the availability of goods and travel possible, but they are generally in poor condition. People who could usually walk safely through former enemy territory now skirt certain post–election (in 2002) areas. Schools have enlarged children’s knowledge and by extension, their parents’ as well, but suffer because of vandalism and fighting. Western vegetables and fruit are grown in local gardens and sold in markets. The bride price involves cash payment as well as traditional goods, with a “standard” bride price (in 2002) in West Kewa being 8 to 10 pigs, K1,000 to K2,000 in cash, a cassowary, if available, and a few traditional pearl shells. Some houses and churches have metal roofs, and water tanks are becoming more common. Aluminum pots and pans are widespread; wooden bowls and bamboo water containers are used infrequently. Many traditional articles have largely disappeared and children do not remember having seen them at all. Western imports such as clubs, dance halls, videos and gambling craved by the younger generation are common in towns, and in some outlying areas. They are quickly changing the values and culture, mostly in negative ways. As traditional values have depreciated, the culture is somewhat in crisis. Hopefully some good will survive.
3.5 / Literacy/Education
One change that apparently has had good consequences is literacy and education. Whereas forty years ago there were very few literates in the entire Kewa area, today there are thousands of semi–literates in the village areas as a result of the school-leaver system. We estimate (in 2002) that some 2000 Kewa children annually leave school at grade 6 and most of them return to their village areas. These children can read Tok Pisin and with a little effort can also read Kewa. Because their English skills are poor, they soon lose this language altogether. In a few churches where we inquired in 1990 as to the number of literates, around 15 percent responded. In one village, Usa, we met with 40 people who claimed literateness, from 6th grade leavers to over 40 year old men. The few females who could read were under 20 years old. By 2002 some degree of literacy had increased to an estimated 25% of the population.
A big change today is the large number of females enrolled in community and high schools.
Kewa children can attend community schools in any of four districts in which they live: Ialibu, Kagua/Erave, Pangia and Mendi. We do not have statistics (in 2002) to show how many Kewa–speaking children are enrolled in any schools, but estimate: Senior High Schools (grades 11 and 12), in Ialibu and Mogul in Mendi: probably 600 to 700 in each, perhaps 20% of them Kewa; High Schools (grades 9 and 10) in Kagua, Yepi and Erave: probably 400 to 500 in each, 95% Kewa. Primary Top–up schools in many areas, such as Usa, with 13 teachers and Wabi, with 17 teachers, have on the average 250 to 300 students. There are many such schools throughout the Kewa area, perhaps as many as 10 or 12. This means that the total number of Kewa students enrolled annually is around 4,000, with 260 in Senior High Schools (plus those studying in Australia), 1,300 in High Schools, and 2,500 in Primary schools. We know of other Kewas doing advanced degrees in PNG and in Australia.
In the Kagua/Erave school district, which has primarily Kewa mother tongue children, the provincial Department of Education’s annual report for 1987 showed that there were 121 teachers for 21 schools with a total enrollment of 3,597. Of the 299 grade 6 students who finished primary education, 126 were selected to go on to high school from the District, or about 42 percent. In the January 1989 report by the Provincial Education Services Division, Mendi, there were 15 schools who administered the grade 6 exam. Of the 282 students examined, 178 were males and 104 were females, but only 85 males (48 percent) and 42 females (40 percent) passed the exam, or a total of 55 percent. This leaves 155 students from the 6th grade who were unable to go on to high school. There are several options open to these students: 1) go to a vocational school, 2) return to their home area, 3) find work in a town. Since no vocational schools in the Kewa area cater for females, this is not a viable option for them. Option 3 offers low probability, so the bulk of 6th grade leavers return to their home areas. We do not have corresponding figures for 2002.
In 1990 there were six community schools in the West Kewa area: Usa, Sumi, Wabi, Ipia, Imani and Rakere. Two schools (Usa and Sumi) were surveyed in 1989. The Usa school was level 2 (where level 1 is the lowest level). A new class has been enrolled every alternate year. By 1990 there were 124 students, including 74 boys and 50 girls (the latter in the same village area where girls were not allowed to attend literacy classes only 20 years previously) with three teachers including the headmaster. Only a few miles away was the Sumi school with 220 children in all 6 grades, a level 4 school. In 1990 there were 7 teachers and a headmaster at this school who taught 136 boys and 84 girls. By 2002 the sizes of the schools had tripled, but in July of 2002, following the post-election crisis in the SHP, the Sumi school (and entire station) were burned and vandalized. As already mentioned, we estimate that there are 10–12 community schools now.
The Lutherans and Catholics each maintained one school, in Wabi and Sumi respectively (however, as noted, it burned down in July of 2002), under the government scheme. The Wabi school was begun in 1958. In 1990 it had 250 students in 6 grades with 8 teachers. In 2002 it had 17 teachers.
In 2002 there were six high schools available to Kewa children who qualified: Ialibu, Kagua, Pangia, Erave, Yebi (the most recent) and Mendi (called Mogol). Most Kewa children attend Kagua, Erave or the Yebi (on the Ialibu–Mendi road) high schools, some attend in Ialibu and a few in Pangia. According to the Provincial Education Services annual report, 1987, Kagua High had 381 males and 119 females, totaling 437 students, and in 1989 this enrollment had increased by only 20 to 457 students. There were 87 grade 10 students (60 males and 29 females) in 1987 in Kagua High with 18 teachers; in 1989 the grade 10 enrollment had increased to 105, or 17 percent growth. The Province is ranked 14th of the 20 provinces for overall achievement in 1987. Kagua High scored at 50.29 percent on the grade 10 exam, while in 1987 the national average was 50.00 percent. Comparing the number of females who successfully completed the grade 6 exam (42), with the number of females who were enrolled in grade 10 (29), the dropout rate seems to be about 31 percent. The reasons for this are probably two–fold: 1) lack of finances to continue, and 2) marriage. We do not have corresponding figures for 2002.
Vocational Centres were functional in Kagua, Pangia and Mendi but did not have females enrolled. In 1990 the enrollment in Kagua was 72 with 4 staff. The Kagua school had agriculture and mechanical classes only.
Some Kewa men have gone to university and in 2005 Apoi Yarapea (E Kewa) received his PhD in linguistics from The Australian National University. His thesis is called “Morphosyntax of Kewapi” but is yet to be published.
3.6 / Health Services
The hospitals at the main centres (Kagua, Erave, Ialibu and Mendi), where Kewa–speaking people can get medical help, are reportedly in poor condition and with poor services. In addition, there are at least two health centres, one at Muli in East Kewa and one at Sumi in West Kewa, but, as already mentioned, the center in Sumi was burned down in July of 2002. Some Kewa people have access to basic medical help, such as for diarrhea and sores, for a nominal fee at aid posts scattered throughout the area.
3.7 / Research
I completed my M.A. in Linguistics at Cornell University in New York state in 1964. My thesis was on the Kewa clause structure (Franklin 1965). Later my Ph.D. in Linguistics focused on the Kewa dialects, phonology and refining the Kewa grammar (Franklin 1971). The degree was conferred in 1970.
Joice completed her M.A. in Social Sciences at Azusa Pacific U. in 1990, with an emphasis in Human Resource Leadership.
We have published a number of articles on the Kewa phonology (K. and J. Franklin 1962; Joice Franklin 1965), including tonal analysis and, as mentioned, the grammar (K. Franklin 1971). We also prepared an extensive technical dictionary which was published by ANU in 1978, and is subsequently being revised. We also did cultural research and wrote papers on anthropology–related subjects, such as the interesting counting system used by the Kewa people (K. and J. Franklin 1962; K. Franklin 1963). Together with language helpers, we prepared and published a number of literacy books in the Kewa language.
Four anthropologists have studied in the Kewa area, resulting in a number of publications. Some have acknowledged our work. (For a complete list, see Bibliography: Other Contributors.)
There is, of course work yet to be done, although the basic linguistic and cultural analyses are completed and published. A revision of the dictionary needs to be completed and a. reexamination of Kewa tone and stress could be useful. (Malcolm Ross presented one such analysis in 2005.) There are always more aspects of the culture to be studied. A pedagogical grammar of Kewa might be used in the schools. More recently, we have put on line our work on a Tok Pisin to Kewa dictionary, and a Learn West Kewa booklet.
3.8 / Literacy and Community Development
We and our language assistants prepared basic reading materials in E. Kewa during their first term. Later we prepared a primer and a riddle book for the East Kewa dialect. In the West Kewa dialect, we prepared primers and workbooks, several culture books for easy reading, a social studies book, and some Scripture–related books. For several years we and our helpers produced a newssheet which was distributed in the area and used in local community schools.
We held trial literacy classes for adults in the village of Muli from 1960–63 where there were no literates. In Usa, we held classes throughout 1969–72 producing a number of adult literates in three villages. We also conducted fluency classes for some 30 semi–literates and a pre–school class for about 10 children entering school.
We trained a literacy instructor from the village of Usa, who also authored or co–authored several books. We instituted a system of “each one teach one” in evening classes where more fluent readers helped less skilled readers. About 50 adults attended these informal classes.
Today, the older men in Usa and a few nearby villages who were members of past literacy classes can read Kewa with varying levels of fluency. All the village pastors, evangelists and catechists can read Tok Pisin and Kewa, again with varying degrees of fluency.
There is a lack of older female readers because in the early days of literacy work, the leaders would not allow females to attend classes.
During several trips to the area in 1989–90, we spent time visiting villages to encourage reading, including distribution of available books.
In 1989, a literacy team expressed interest in doing Kewa literacy and Scripture promotion work. They hoped to commence their Field Training Course in February 1990 and do the village living phase in a West Kewa village to give overlapping time with us before we commenced furlough in July 1990. However, the team asked to be reassigned to the Europe area in late 1989 because the husband was fluent in Russian. So far there has been no replacement for them in the Kewa area.
The Catholic church has had a small ladies literacy class at their Karia station in Kagua in the E. dialect. We don’t know if this is continuing or not.
The Evangelical Church of Papua (ECP) in S. Kewa (Pole) has had an ongoing literacy program led by pastors or others in most villages where ECP churches are located. Preschools were planned and for many years literacy has been taught in the upper grades of the Erave Community School. Materials include a set of six primers, an easy reader, a hymn book, Scripture books and two Bible Society New Readers books. The literacy supervisor was Pasu Epawe, but we do not know the current (2002) situation.
We have always worked closely with the local people to develop on–going relationships and community involvement. We have not introduced any appropriate technology projects because the government has been active in the area with a variety of projects through the years.
Again, there is much that could be done: Now there are many more literates in the entire Kewa area due to the school leavers who have returned to their villages over many years. These literates vary in fluency and need help in motivation to read Kewa. Reading clubs would provide the support they need. Reintroduction of a newspaper would be another valuable tool in literacy promotion throughout the area. We estimate (2002) that 25% percent or more of the young people and young married men are literate in varying degrees. The Training Coordinator recently looked at the Kewa materials and felt most would be suitable for primary schools with little revision. In 1990 the SIL administration promised that a literacy team would be assigned to the Kewa area, and though teams have been assigned to smaller languages, the Kewa still wait.
3.9 / Relations with Government and Churches
We have always worked to maintain close relationships with government officers in the areas where we have resided. We kept appropriate officers informed of our work and sought their advice and information as well. At one time we were asked by the government to help settle a land dispute by investigating the history of ownership through kinship ties and thus an open conflict was avoided between two related clans.
Whenever we have visited the Southern Highlands Provincial centre in Mendi, we have contacted appropriate non–formal education officers to report to and learn from them.
We have assisted community schools in Usa, Sumi and Wabi by donating Kewa books to their libraries. We have also taught culture classes for 4–6th grade classes when we resided in Wabi.
Relationships with the two main churches in the Kewa area, Evangelical Lutheran (ELC) and Catholic (Capuchin Order), have always been positive. From earliest times, we have sought to promote personal friendships with mission/church personnel and have maintained contact with several people for years.
We conducted linguistic courses for the Capuchin Order at Mendi (1971), and an inter–mission (Catholic, Lutheran, Bible Missionary and Wesleyan) Kewa language learning and translation course at Katiloma for a week in 1982.
In the process of translating the Kewa New Testament, the Gospel of Mark was cross–checked with Lutheran and Catholic personnel, and the Gospel of John was checked with the Lutherans to ensure acceptability.
The Capuchin Order was established in Ialibu in 1955 and from there priests patrolled the East Kewa area, establishing churches in many villages including Muli where the Franklins first lived. The Order began in Kagua and surrounding areas in 1957. They have established 17 churches in the West Kewa area with a catechist at each. Their largest station is at Sumi (in July 2002, burned down in post–election fighting) where two Sisters did pastoral and medical itinerant work along with national novitiates.
The Lutheran mission (now Evangelical Lutheran Church, ELC) began work in Wabi in April 1958, shortly after the Kagua government station was begun in 1957. Merrill and Katie Clark established the Wabi station and a school. In December 1959, Norman and Bernice Imbrock replaced the Clarks and were the resident missionaries until 1981, further developing the school and village churches, as well as cattle and agricultural projects on the station. Kurt and Anne Riecke began work in Wabi in November 1985 and left to teach at Ogelbeng Seminary in 1989. In 1990 there were 5 pastors and 51 Lutheran churches in the West Kewa area, but there are reportedly many more now.
By 2002 in the West Kewa area there were 2 Nazarene churches (at Usa and Sumi), administered from Kudjip, WHP; 8 Bible Missionary Churches (BMC), administered from Kuare–Lombo, SHP; 1 United Church without a pastor and administered from Mendi; 1 Assembly of God (AOG) church, administered from Mt. Hagen; and a Seventh Day Adventist church established in early 1989, though we were unable to meet with them. During the early 1980s, the Christian Union Mission had a station on the eastside of the Erave River, east and southeast of Poroma. Their only access to the area was via a flying fox across the Erave River. The United and Catholic (Capuchin) churches have a number of churches in the Northwest dialect area, administered from Mendi.
In the East Kewa, the Catholic, ELC and BMC have churches throughout the area. The Catholic and ELC are supervised through their stations in Ialibu and Wabi. The BMC is supervised from its station at Kuare–Lombo east of Kagua. The Evangelical Wesleyan Mission has one station at Katiloma and has churches south to the Erave area. The Assembly of God have at least one church at Kagua with a national pastor. The Gospel Tidings church has a main church in Ialibu and there may be other village churches as well. The Catholic and ELC at Pangia supervise a few churches in the Kewa area nearest the station.
The ELC supervises from Wabi, West Kewa, over 30 churches in the East Kewa area with 4 pastors; each pastor is responsible for evangelists assigned to the churches.
The Catholics (Capuchins) and Wesleyans also have churches in the South Kewa. Both the Catholics and Wesleyans focus on evangelism, church planting and pastoral care.
A more recent report (July 2005) from a mission worker in the East Kewa with the Bible Missionary Church states that they have an airstrip on the Kware side of the valley. Other missions in the area are Baptist (with churches at Limbo and Porolo), PNG Bible Church, Catholic, CLC and Lutheran. There is a school (grades 1–8) and a health center at Waluanda, the BMC area. At Marali village near Kagua there is an AOG church.
More interaction with East, South and Northwest Kewa churches and more interaction with government officers at the main centres would be very helpful. The SIL Regional Assistant Director for the Highlands has intended to interact with these bodies, but we never received any information that it has happened. In July of 2005, I had some interaction with Wayne Fair, who with his wife was running the Missionary Guest House in Mt. Hagen. He has been working with the East Kewa since 1994, but far to the east near the Wiru border. He is independent but explained to me the doctrinal differences of the EMC and the Missionary Bible Church, both who also have contact with the Kewas.
3.10 / Translation and Scripture Use
The West Kewa translation of the New Testament was completed in 1972 and published and distributed in 1973. Over 1500 copies were published and it has been out of print for some years.
In most ELC churches, the Sunday services are held in the Kewa language except for the reading of the scripture texts. These are read in Tok Pisin and then translated, often phrase by phrase, into Kewa. One reason the Kewa Scriptures are not used by ELC pastors and evangelists is because their reading fluency is poor and they are embarrassed to read aloud haltingly. During four visits to the area in 1989–90, we visited various churches, encouraging the use of Kewa Scriptures while trying to enthuse pastors, evangelists and church leaders to participate in revising the present version. At present this project is proceeding well, mainly due to the encouragement and example of Lay–pastor Wopa Eka from Usa.
Scripture use by other churches in the West Kewa area: the Catholic church uses Kewa Scriptures in all of their churches; the Bible Missionary Church (BMC) uses only Tok Pisin; and the Nazarene church has Kewa New Testaments available in services for use by any Kewa literates.
Benjamin Pundiapa from Wabi attempted to translate some of the Kewa Old Testament on his own, completing Genesis, Exodus and Psalms. His stated reason was so that he could learn the Bible before he went to seminary, but we never heard from him after 1990. We arranged for Fr. Don Debes at Karia Station, Kagua, to keyboard these materials, in that he had an East Kewa translation team in place. However, sometime in the early 1990s he left the Kewa area. Rev. Kurt Riecke, who formerly resided at Wabi and then taught at the ELC seminary, Ogelbeng, asked for the Kewa NT computer disk so he could help with revisions should they eventuate. He too left the area (and the country) in the late 1980s. Mr. Norm Mundhenk of the Bible Society, Mt. Hagen, had expressed an interest in supervising the revision and the Old Testament translation, but he left PNG in the late 1990s. Wopa Eka and others have promoted West Kewa Scripture use, but there has been on one to supervise a literacy program, so it is unclear how translation efforts will be implemented. Wopa has talked directly to SIL’s ADLA in September 2002 about the literacy need, but there was no personnel available.
As mentioned, Fr. Don Debes once supervised six men to translate the New Testament in two sub–dialects of the East Kewa, using Tok Pisin as a source text and referring to the West Kewa translation at times when certain meanings are unclear. The Catholics use East Kewa Scriptures in their services, although other pastors have expressed interest. The BMC stated that their church does not need the Kewa translation as they are content to use Tok Pisin and English.
In May 1989, a joint meeting between the East Kewa Catholic translators (6 men), 8 ELC pastors and leaders and 1 Bible church member, met at Wabi station to discuss key terms in the Kewa New Testament translation. In three hours of discussion, only two changes were suggested for the terms currently used in the West and now East dialect translations. In 2002 we carefully examined the key terms during the West Kewa NT revision and made a few changes.
There appears to be too many vocabulary differences and too few fluent readers for the West Kewa New Testament to be used in churches in the Northwest dialect, though literacy and promotion could overcome this difficulty.
In the South dialect, the Catholics used Tok Pisin translated into Kewa, although they now also have the Pole N, translated under the auspices of the Evangelical Church of Papua (ECP)..
According to figures we received in 1990, the ECP had 32 churches in S. Kewa (Pole). We do not have current figures on churches in South Kewa. Grace and Ian Collingwood first began work in the Erave area about 1959. They began the translation of the New Testament which was carried on by Gwen Priestly in the early 1970s. She left in 1980 and Robyn and Frank Hawkes, who had been at Erave from 1979–1980, returned in 1983 to finish the work. The primary translator was Kewai Kero, a CLTC graduate. He completed the first draft of the South Kewa New Testament in 1988 and it was published in the mid–90s.
About 1982, 500 copies of John, Mark, Acts and the Christmas story from Luke were printed and sold in the S. Kewa dialect. In 1986, twelve books including Mark, Luke, John, Acts and a number of epistles were prepared for publication. Robyn Hawkes was the assistant translator and worked with the Bible Society to prepare the New Testament for publication.
We believe that the ECP still sponsors a small Bible School for students from three languages (S. Kewa, Samberigi and Polopa) at Erave. The principal was Pastor Pale and in 1990, forty–six students were enrolled in the Theological Education by Extension (TEE) program sponsored by CLTC and S. Kewa is also used in this program. The ECP women’s program involved mostly pastor’s wives. S. Kewa was used in this program including Scripture reading and memorization.
A spiritual renewal throughout the Kewa area would create a desire for Kewa Scriptures. At present, many pastors and evangelists have not put the time and effort into learning to read Kewa well. They seem content to use the easier, tedious method of translating Tok Pisin Scriptures into Kewa, often phrase by phrase, with the resulting lack of comprehension. One reason is lack of reading fluency. Another is the prestige of Tok Pisin. Another more fundamental reason may be that Scriptures speak for themselves and the pastor or evangelist would have little to add which would make him feel redundant.
In 1998, when we attended the PNG branch conference, two Kewa men visited Ukarumpa (as a result of mail contact) and asked us to consider revising the West Kewa NT. We later returned to PNG in August of 2002 for 5 months, July of 2003 for 5 months and June of 2004 for 3 months working with Evangelist Wopa Eka of the Lutheran Church and others on the WKNT revision and with Rose Poto and others on an adaptation into East Kewa. Typesetting was completed in 2003 and the revised WKNT was dedicated in August 2004 in the village of Usa. In 2003 an adaptation of the East Kewa NT (using the computer program Adapt It) was begun and completed 13 months later. It was dedicated in July of 2005 at Kagua. In 2011 a group called Hosanna began preparing it in audio format.
Two separate BELT (Bible Education and Literacy Training) courses were held by YWAM (Youth with a Mission) in Usa, in 2004 and 2005, each lasting 5 weeks. Undoubtedly, a literacy fluency and Scripture–use thrust provided by a specialist team would help motivate a renewed interest in the revised WKNT as well as the EKNT.
3.11 / Miscellaneous
All W. Kewa literacy and translation materials which were still in print in 1990 were stored at the Catholic station at Karia, near Kagua. Before reprinting or republishing, each book should be carefully checked for accuracy and revised where necessary. A full inventory of all E. Kewa and W. Kewa materials can be found in the SIL Archives, Ukarumpa, EHP.
We sent reports of our work among the Kewa (1958-1990) to the following: Catholic Mission (Karia), Lutheran Church (Wabi via Mt. Hagen), PNG Bible Society (Mt. Hagen), United Church (Mendi), Evangelical Church of Papua (Erave), Bible Mission Church (Kuare–Lombo), SIL Regional Director, SIL Language Director. We believe that both the East and West Kewa would profit from encouragement by SIL consultants and administrators. BTA has also shown some interest in the Kewa project and has recently taken on the Old Testament translation as a project. Wopa Ega and Max Yapua have attended translation courses held at Ukarumpa and Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Ruth, and parts of Genesis were published in 2009.
We realize that this report is not complete in respect to the work of other organizations who function amongst the Kewa people, nor is it completely up to date. Corrections and additions can be sent to the Administrative Assistant for Program Planning, Box 413, Ukarumpa via Lae, PNG.
- The latest population figures I have is from the PNG government’s 2000 census. At that time I went through the figures with Kewa speakers and we estimated the WK and EK populations at about 45,000 each. The 2010 census will undoubtedly show an increase in the total population.
- Pawley, et al. (2005), summarize the linguistic and cultural situation of the Papuan–speaking peoples. which includes the Kewa. In that volume (pp. 15–65) Ross includes them in a classification based on free pronouns.