In April 2019, another research expedition to the Maclay Coast (Rai Coast), North-East of the New Guinea Island, took place. The expedition members made a deeper study of the various aspects of culture of the local residents – Papuans. What prompted the head of the Foundation, the great-grandnephew, to go again in this not a simple expedition with a team of scientists and documentary filmmakers? We asked Nickolay Nikolaevich about it.
“First of all, the locals themselves. Their first reception will always be in my heart. Our trip was not easy and it took six days to arrive instead of two. It is told about in the book “Journey to the Maclay Coast” and in the film “The Man from the Moon”. The trip was not easy, it is no accident that no one over the past 40 years has not organized a comprehensive scientific expedition. The latter one was organized by the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1977 in the period of USSR.
The locals learned that Maclay’s descendant from far Russia was going to arrive and they gathered to meet me on the coast, where the scientist’s hut once located. More than 3,000 local residents gathered on the coast, filling all the surroundings. We were lucky to arrive on September 16, the day of Papua New Guinea’s Independence celebration. The participants sang their National Anthem and erected the Russian flag together with the flag of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG), so that the Russians learned how they kept the memory of the Russian pioneer. This was symbolic, because it was there 146 years ago when the great traveler erected the Russian flag, going to people who did not know by that time what iron was. We did not take the flag, all that was the merit of local residents who remembered Russia and passed the legends from mouth to mouth about Miklouho-Maclay. Our expedition encouraged them to create a society named after N.N. Miklouho-Maclay, and Maclay Jr. – to do everything possible to let Russians know how they keep the memory of the Russian pioneer. Who knows, maybe this sincere and respectful attitude towards Russia, which Miklouho-Maclay instilled, will become the basis for good relations at all levels between our countries in the business, scientific, humanitarian and cultural spheres.
Again, the expedition team accommodated in Gorendu village among the numerous descendants of Tui (the best friend of N.N. Miklouho-Maclay). During the field works the expedition members visited a number of other Papuan villages with a lot of amazing surprises. Besides the ethnologist, there was a linguist, because it was necessary to continue the tradition started by Miklouho-Maclay of learning the Bongu language by Russian scientists. Closer and more thorough acquaintance with the customs and traditions of Bonguans will make a significant contribution to the World Ethnography of Oceania. April is the hottest and wettest month on the Maclay Coast. It made the researchers’ work laborious, but at the same time, incredibly exciting and interesting”.
The first in the contemporary history of Russia research expedition on the trail of the Great traveler and humanist, scientist Nikolay Nikolaevich Miklouho-Maclay, was held in 2017. Today, it is already a history, and a year and a half ago, no one could think that it would have given not only an opportunity to conduct scientific research, but also served as an impetus for the establishment of cultural, scientific and humanitarian relations with the Island state, interested both for business and scientific communities around the world. The objectives of the expedition were the establishment of cultural ties and interaction with leading Universities in Papua New Guinea and Australia, scientific research, and the study of the cultural dynamics of the peoples of the Maclay Coast over the past 40 years since the last Russian expedition. The results of scientific research are being processed and will soon be presented to the scientific world and the public. During the expedition, unique photos and videos were made, which later became the basis for a documentary film.
Exibitions based on the materials from the expedition are regularly held in Russia and Papua New Guinea, which showcase the unique culture of the Island state, the history of ties between the two countries, traditions and discoveries of Russian researchers. Scientific papers based on the materials are being published. The expedition of scientists of the Russian Academy of Sciences from Moscow and St. Petersburg under the leadership of Nickolay Miklouho-Maclay Jr. has actually revived continuity in Russia’s exploration of Papua New Guinea and established multilateral contacts which successfully develop in the scientific, educational, humanitarian and business spheres.