A detail from a page of Rabaul News, a mimeographed typescript publication, ca. 1950s An announcement of a string band concert at Unamai Restaurant in Rabaul, 1951

In the January 13, 1951 issue of Rabaul News, a small item appeared at the top of page 4, in the Village News section.

It read:

UNAMAI RESTAURANT (HAUS KAIKAI)

Baai (Nodup) String Band – baimbai oli pilai gita

TUDEI LONG NAIT! SATURDAY, 13TH JANUARY, 1951

Baai and Nodup are rural villages not far from Rabaul, a major center at that time. This announcement of a party at a commercial establishment in town may very well be Rabaul News’s first advertisement. (Indeed, my superficial online research leads me to think that the name–Unamai–means “Y’all come!” in Kuanua, the indigenous language of the Rabaul area.)

Rabaul News contained a variety of official announcements and advice from kiaps and other colonial officials, as well as submitted news items from native-born policemen and luluai (government-appointed village headmen). This and other newsletters like it were intended to encourage literacy in Pidgin (Tok Pisin), which was already a widely used common language among indigenous people of the Territory of New Guinea. Many of articles by officials were basically patronizing sermons on any number of topics: education, health, nutrition, proper use of the mail service, the importance of safe driving, and cursive handwriting, to name a few. Yet Rabaul News always had a bit of local color in it too. Teachers, luluai and others sent in news of “parties” they hosted in their villages, particularly dance parties featuring music played on guitar and ukulele. So many articles on local parties and concerts led one reader to submit an item entitled “Hed I Pein Pinis Long Harim Nius Long En” (I’m really sick of hearing about them [parties]) (To Boromilat 1951).

If anyone has any information or suggestions for other sources on Rabaul at this time, or any information about Unamai Restaurant, please get in touch.

References

To Boromilat, Stanis. 1951. “Hed i Pein Pinis long Harim Nius Long En–Parties, Bikpela Kaikai, long Gita na Danis,” Rabaul News, August 4, p. 4.

Unamai Restaurant. 1951. “Unamai Restaurant (Haus Kaikai),” Rabaul News, January 13, p. 4.