Life of 90-year-old celebrated

For many people the festivity of Christmas is not only confined to the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

It is also a celebration of the life one has lived.

90-year-old Ombolu Tiyoma, from Payama Village in Pangia, Southern Highlands Province, was recently celebrated by her family for her life as a woman of standing in her own culture.

Tucked away in the corners of Morata Two in Port Moresby, a small family from Pangia hosted a feast as part of their Christmas celebrations.

Tiyoma is a traditionalist given her strict obedience to cultural values, which she tries to impart to her family.

‘If you do not work, you will not eat, you will not have any pig in your garden’ was one of her principles.

“Em save lukautim moa den 10, 20 (pigs). Sapos em makim 10, em imas kilim 10. Sapos em makim 20, em imas kilim 20,” said daughter Eliss Mambo. (She used to take care of more than 10, 20 pigs.)

“Em save i gat bikpla salens em givim lo ol narapla lain. Tok fait em ino save gat tok fait or koros wantaim wanpla meri or man. Nogat. (She does not get into fights with anyone.)

“So em save kilim pik, em save laik apim nem bilong man bilong em igat lida nem, igat gutpela kualiti nem. Ino ken bagarapim em, so em i nogat fait na koros lo ai bilong pablik. (She kills pigs to keep her husband’s reputation as a leader intact.)

“Em koros em save hait na go koros lo ol pik. Na em save givim best kaikai long ol pik.” (No one knows when she’s angry except the pigs. But she also gives them the best food she has.)

Born in 1927, Tiyoma has witnessed world events such as World War II, where she would share stories with her children of the fear she had when planes would fly over and when she saw a ‘white man’ for the first time.

For the last eight years, Tiyoma has lived in Port Moresby after tribal fighting in her home province, where she lost her eldest son; she forced her daughter Eliss to bring her to the capital.

The family is now preparing to farewell Tiyoma back home as they believe her time on earth is almost up.

This was the custom that she had taught Eliss.

From her marriage to her late husband, Mambo Ombi, they both raised five children.

Tiyoma has since witnessed the birth of 11 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

Cedric Patjole