Melanesian arts festival celebrates history, culture

The theme of the 6th MACFEST reinforces the significance of the festival as a time to reminisce about their history and cultures. Picture: Henry Oritaimae/hertzie14.blogspot.com

AUCKLAND, 05 JULY 2018 (WANSOLWARA) – More than 1500 delegates from all over Melanesia have converged in Honiara, Solomon Islands for the 6th Melanesian Arts and Cultural Festival (MACFEST) with the goal to promote traditional and contemporary arts from the whole of Melanesia.

The idea was conceived by leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group in 1995, with Solomon Islands hosting the first MACFEST in 1998, according to Solomon Islands director of Government Communication Unit, George Hemming.

“The significance of the MACFEST is to help young people to maintain and conserve their unique art and culture as instil a sense of pride in their identity as Melanesians,” Hemming said.

“The obvious benefit that has been derived by host countries is cultural interaction; creating knowledge and understanding of different Melanesian cultures.”

He said the MACFEST also provided economic benefits, generating revenue for host countries in terms of tourism and an increase in economic activity.

“The festival involves a lot of activities especially in terms of the performing arts, visual arts, contemporary dance and music, traditional or cultural dance and music, fashion, culinary art as well as children’s games and art,” Hemming said.

MACFEST chairman Andrew Nihopara said the theme of the 6th MACFEST – “Past Recollections; Future Connections” – reinforced the significance of the festival as a time to reminisce about their history and cultures while at the same time connecting as one people in diversity.

He said the festival had extended beyond its borders with invitations sent to Torres Strait Islanders of Australia, the Papuan region of Indonesia and Timor Leste.

“The true spirit of this festival is sharing in unity, through our recollections we are then connected together as we journey forth into the future,” he said.

MACFEST takes place every four years. This year, the festival will run from July 1-10 at various venues in Honiara.