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Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Tukana: Husat i Asua – Bridging the Divide,Tradition and Progress

"Tukana: Husat i Asua" transcends the boundaries of mere entertainment. Co-directed by Chris Owen and Albert Toro, the film delves into the heart of Papua New Guinea's North Solomons Province, offering a poignant look at the struggles faced by young people caught between the allure of modernity and the enduring strength of tradition.


Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Bougainville, the film acknowledges the island's complex history. Even in peaceful villages, the scars of World War II linger. A seemingly playful act by an elder, imitating Japanese soldiers, becomes a stark reminder of the island's turbulent past. This juxtaposition sets the stage for the film's central conflict: the struggle to reconcile tradition with the desire for progress.

Tukana (played by Albert Toro), the film's protagonist, embodies this internal conflict. He yearns for the trappings of a modern life, yet feels a deep responsibility to preserve his cultural heritage. While some in his village chase after speedboats, Tukana mourns the fading art of canoe-making, a dying tradition that becomes a powerful metaphor for a generation in flux.

Tukana's journey is a relatable one, marked by both missteps and personal growth. After failing out of college, he returns to his village disillusioned. His struggles to meet societal expectations lead him down a path of rebellion, marked by alcohol abuse and disrespect for his elders. He even defies his family's wishes by rejecting an arranged marriage, ultimately seeking solace in the distant copper mines.

There, he encounters a beautiful and educated woman (played by Francesca Semoso, now known as MP Francesca Semoso for North Bougainville) who prioritizes personal desires over communal responsibility. Their relationship becomes a microcosm of the larger societal issue: the clash between individual aspirations and the importance of contributing to the well-being of the community.

Semoso's real-life trajectory, much like Tukana's, reflects a search for purpose that extends beyond oneself. Her rise to political office highlights the film's enduring message: the importance of finding a balance between individual fulfillment and contributing to the greater good.

"Tukana: Husat i Asua" is more than just a film; it's a captivating blend of anthropology and storytelling. The past whispers its lessons to the present, creating a rich tapestry of Bougainville's social fabric. The film's stunning visuals showcase the island's natural beauty, while its characters grapple with universal questions of identity and belonging. Tukana's choices, ultimately, become a reflection of our own human struggle to find our place in the world, honoring the past while embracing the possibilities of the future.