The Melanesia Cultural Festival to be held in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, from October 26 to 30, is expected to help improve the public understanding of the Melanesian race.
"So far, many people thought the Melanesian race is only in Papua, while, in fact, they are spread in a number of countries," Kacung Marijan, director general of culture at the Ministry of Education and Culture, said here, recently.
During the festival, participants could share knowledge and information on traditions and culture.
"The forum is aimed at improving the mutual understanding and solidarity in the Melanesian region," he stated.
The Melanesian people were thought to have lived only in West Papua and Papua New Guinea. In fact, they could also be found in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Maluku, North Maluku, part of Southeast Sulawesi, and part of West Nusa Tenggara.
From Indonesia, the participants will include those from NTT, Maluku, North Maluku and Southeast Sulawesi, in addition to West Papua, and Papua.
Foreign participants will include representatives of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Salomon Islands and Timor Leste, in addition to Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and the director general of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
The festivals programs include conferences, art performances, a cultural exhibition and film screening.
To be held for the first time in Indonesia, the festival is also aimed at improving cooperation among Melanesian countries.
"The festival is based on the reality that the majority of Melanesians are living in Indonesia, approximately 80 percent of them," Kacung Marijan said.
Three Indonesian films will be screened at the festival. These are "Atambua 39 C", "Tanah Mama" (Mother Land) and "Cahaya Dari Timur" (Light of the East).
Archaeologists from the National Archaeological Research Center, Harry Truman Simanjuntak, said the festival also aims to sensitize people against the two biggest races in Indonesia -- the Mongoloids and Austronesians, who are brothers and have been interacting culturally and biologically for tens of thousands of years.
"Do not create any divides, we need to know each other to strengthen the national spirit," Harry said. (Antara)