In the highlands of New Guinea, on the western rim of Melanesia, pigs are central to religious and social life, their blood sanctifying land for ceremony, and opening marriage negotiations between families. They underpin the village economy, and are sold if cash is required for school fees or a funeral. They are still an important form of compensation in the art of Melanesian peace-making.
YABON was born in rural Victoria and bred to be vacuum-packed for a Coles Christmas hamper. Instead, as companion to the West Papua independence leader Jacob Rumbiak in Melbourne, Yabon became an important symbol for peace and justice, and a reminder of the West Papuans Melanesian identity.
“It was amazing how my pig created space for West Papua in Australia. When I walked about with him, people talked to me. Teachers asked me to address their students. Journalists rang for stories. Then an old chief from home rang and said ‘Son, are you really taking our culture to that country?’” (Jacob Rumbiak)
Yabon, a symbol for justice, peace, and freedom in West Papua (Short story, 2,000 words)
[click to download] Yabon, A symbol for peace and freedom in West Papua, by Louise Byrne
Jacob Rumbiak, Yabon & war correspondent John Martinkus (ABC-JJJ Radio, 9 Oct 2002, 8-mins)
Risking the Sacred by Margaret Coffey (ABC-RN 2003 Encounter Series, 5 Oct 2003, 60-min)
[click to listen] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dpqnf1OEuBQ