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Roger Clarke's 'Kai kai the buai'

Kai kai the buai

Version of 20 February 1998

Roger Clarke

This document is at http://www.rogerclarke.com/WM/Kai.html


Editor's Introduction

This parody of 'Waltzing Matilda' comes from Papua New Guinea (PNG), the eastern half of the rather large island just north of eastern Australia.

It was provided to me by Ross Eastgate, a schooldays mate of mine, who I haven't seen in over 20 years, but who caught up with me recently on the net. It comprises a preamble, the parody, and a glossary.

PNG has a large number of native tongues (700-800 distinct languages, not just dialects ...). To facilitate communications between white fellas and the locals, and indeed between locals from different language groups, an odd variant of english was devised, incorporating words common in PNG, called 'pidgin' english. (Actually, 'pidgin' is a generic term covering a lot of such derivative or mixed languages-of-convenience, like 'creole' is used for variants of french. The linguists' term for the most common form in PNG seems to be variously 'tok pisin' or Neo Melanesian Pidgin).

The song is in pidgin (or, if the truth be known, maybe a bastardisation of pidgin, with a few little jokes in there, at the expense of white fellas who think they know pidgin, but don't really ...). The fact that the song was dreamt up by a New Zealander, in a country where Australians reckon they're the real colonials, just adds to the spice.

I've lightly edited the document, but it's vintage Ross Eastgate. If there are any injured parties out there, please tell me; but if you really have to sue someone, sue him, not me (:-)}


Preamble

There was a very popular parody of Waltzing Matilda which was sung with gusto in PNG in the late 60's, early 70's (and which still crops up occasionally at Black Hand reunions [Ed.: No, don't ask]). It was considered the 'unofficial' PNG anthem in the years leading up to the country's Independence in 1975.

It was attributed to a popular expatriate (Kiwi) entertainer in Port Moresby at the time, one Larry Burton Danielson. LBD played electronic keyboard, as well as that musical scourge from Europe, the piano accordion, and he accompanied his musical entertainments with vocal refrain.

LBD later achieved a modicum of notoriety as the Woolworth's bomber. He was apprehended after attempting to collect a ransom which had been placed in Sydney harbour in response to his demands. The police followed the bubbles from his scuba gear. [Ed.: Be warned: most of the silly stories that emanate from Australia are just someone pulling your leg, or the wool over your eyes, or maybe something else. But, yes, a few of them are actually true; and Ross assures me this is one of them ...].

Danielson performed the song, 'Kai Kai the Buai' at a variety of locations in Port Moresby, most notably at the Gateway Hotel, and it was a regularly demanded item in his repertoire. I had a copy on tape somewhere, but it is lost. <Schooldays mate who would probably prefer to remain anonymous> may remember the chap. Other favourite parodies attributed to Danielson included:

There may have been others, but my deteriorating memories betrays me.

I believe that any copyright enquiries should be addressed to Long Bay jail, where authorities should have a forwarding address. I believe Danielson was deported to NZ at the expiration of the non-parole portion of his custodial sentence. [Ed.: memo to me: check up the New Zealand prison index. It's bound to be up on the web somewhere].

At Independence, PNG adopted 'Arise all ye sons of the Land' as its National Anthem. The music was composed by Inspector Thomas Shacklady, BEM, Director of Music of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, and late of the Royal Marines. I forget who wrote the words. [Ed.: That's funny; I know a few other countries whose national anthems have eminently forgettable words].

'Kai kai the buai' captured the spirit of male contempt for the work ethic within traditional PNG society, female subservience, the importance of betel nut as a social stimulant, environmental vandalism, the superior lifestyles enjoyed by expatriates, especially the ready access to advanced technology, anti-authoritarianism, the power exerted by the kiaps, the fear they engendered among indigenous miscreants, and the profoundly held belief in spirits, goblins and other inexplicable phenomena. The demise of the expatriate kiap at Independence is a significant cause of the rise of raskols and raskolism in contemporary PNG society. As such, 'Kai kai the buai' was a powerful symbol of the place and time, and a wonderful anthem to life in far distant times. [Ed.: I've got that distinct feeling we just changed gear somewhere there; but since it's only one paragraph of serious social comment, I'll leave it in].

Unlike the anonymous swagman of Banjo's rhyme, Danielson's hero was known to the authorities, a chap called Andy, from the Chimbu district in the Highlands of then New Guinea. [Ed.: Oh dear, I feel another set of web-pages coming on ...].

[Ed.: If the above has piqued your interest, here are Ross's further details on Neo Melanesian Pidgin].


Kai kai the buai

<Warning> Since Danielson wrote and performed in the period which pre-dated Whitlamite colonial deconstruction, his material was unapologetically politically incorrect (the term hadn't even been invented!) and was robustly racist. It may offend more sensitive souls. <You have been warned>

     

Once a jolly Chimbu, camped by a marshy swamp

Under the shade of a kokonas tree

Andy sat, Andy watched, Andy waited while his meri worked,

Who'll come and kai kai the buai with me?

     

Kai kai the buai, kai kai the buai!

Who'll come and kai kai the buai with me?

Andy sat, Andy watched, Andy waited while his meri worked,

Who'll come and kai kai the buai with me?

     

Down came a puk puk to was was in the marshy swamp

Up jumped the Chimbu and grabbed him with glee,

Andy sang as shoved the puk puk in his bilum bag,

You'll come and kai kai the buai with me!

     

Kai kai the buai, kai kai the buai!

Who'll come and kai kai the buai with me?

Andy sang as shoved the puk puk in his bilum bag,

You'll come and kai kai the buai with me!

     

Down came the kiap mounted on his wili wil,

Down came the didiman, wan, tu, tri,

Where's the jolly puk puk you've got in your bilum bag'?

You'll come and kai kai the buai with me!

     

Kai kai the buai, kai kai the buai!

Who'll come and kai kai the buai with me?

Where's the jolly puk puk you've got in your bilum bag?

You'll come and kai kai the buai with me!

     

Up jumped the chimbu and jumped into the marshy swamp

You'll never take me alive said he!

ghostly Andy's purri may be heard as you pass by the marshy swamp

Who'll come and kai kai the buai with me?

     

Kai kai the buai, kai kai the buai!

Who'll come and kai kai the buai with me?

ghostly Andy's purri may be heard as you pass by the marshy swamp

Who'll come and kai kai the buai with me?


Glossary

[Ed.: This Glossary contains what you need in order to make sense of this parody (thanks, Ross!). Here's some further guidance,and here's a longer glossary, prepared by an American, and therefore useful, but maybe not quite right ...].

arse grass, aka 'arse tanget', is a formal highlands attire worn on special occasions, and in battle. It consists of several leaves of the tanget plant, suspended fore and aft from a bark belt. Has the added advantage of substituting for more conventional material, should one be caught short.

bilum, a woven fibre carry-all bag traditionally carried by all PNG women and many males

buai is betel nut, a popular but mild narcotic/appetite suppressant widely chewed throughout Asia and the Pacific.

Chimbu, a member of a highlands tribe who are delightful rogues.

clay is the local equivalent of slip, slop, slap, most often worn as a sign of mourning.

didiman, agricultural extension officer

kai kai means eat or chew in this context

kiap, patrol officer, then a European, with considerable power as policeman, magistrate, jailer, medic, jack of all trades. A very powerful authoritarian figure.

kokonas, coconut

meri, female, homo sapiens, indigenous. In this context, wife. A European wife is a missus.

puk puk, crocodile

purri (purri), spirit or ghost

slip, slop, slap [Ed.: um, that's Orstralian, for putting on sunburn-cream. It derives from one of the better advertising campaigns of the last quarter-century. The ad. was devised explicitly because, back in 1965, <schooldays mate who would probably prefer to remain anonymous> picked watermelons in the sunshine without a shirt on, and had to spend a week in plaster due to the second-degree burns]

was was, wash or swim

wili wil, bicycle


em tasol! <that's all!>



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