Documentary Film "Ongka's Big Moka"

Categories: Film

Ongka is a prominent leader of the tribe Kawelka in Highland Papua, New Guinea. This video is about his experiences giving a Moka (or gift) to someone for fame and stature. This video took place in a small tribe that uses pigs as currency for everything. You need pigs to get a wife, to have children, and also for investments. Ongka became a prominent leader there due to his huge ability to give away his pigs to other people. He did it not for monetary currency, but the ability of giving away things there are a sign of fame and is look at with great respect.

This tribe does not use wealth or fashion (as we do in the U.S) to become famous and well known, whoever gives away the most is the celebrity of this tribe. Ongka had given away plenty in the past, but he wanted to give the biggest moka of all time.

Ongka has five wives and nine children that help him take care of the pigs and birds before he gives them away during the big moka give away.

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The tribe holds special ceremonies to give away mokas to their neighboring tribes. The dress is formal though, feathers on their heads and leaves on their bodies as well as face paint on their faces. Also, females in this tribe are topless and it is actually common to not wear clothing. Ongka wore clothes throughout this whole video except during the ceremonies, I am guessing due to his stature in the tribe it was okay.

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Ongka manage to receive help from a few others in his tribe, by convincing them that when he gives the moka they would get some prestige as well.

The plot arose when someone died in an enemy tribe, and they believe when someone dies in a certain weight range then he must have been murdered by sorcery. Ongka had to step in as the mediator and representative for his tribe, and give the tribe a pig and a special branch use for oath taking to convey his honesty that his tribe had nothing to do with the sorcery. While giving away his mokas, Ongka’s rival Rhyma announced that it was his group that killed the man from their enemy tribe. Rhyma did not really kill the man he just wanted to stir up drama on Ongka’s big day. The announcement cancelled the ceremony, and the enemy tribe tried to kill Rhyma, but could not find him. Ongka had to become the peacemaker and try to convince the enemy tribe not to go to war with their tribe. Two weeks later everything cool down, and Ongka was able to carry on with his ceremony.

Ongka Big Moka is a great video describing the traditions and scenarios that an individual go through on a daily basis to obtain power. This really opened my mind to how similar our country is to theirs. My ethnocentric thoughts at the beginning of the movie when I saw how the way they dress completely changed at the end of the video. I realized that I should not judge any culture by my own social cultural standards. The people of this tribe seem like they are happy with their lifestyles. Our countries are very similar they might not use their wealth and celebrity to obtain power, but they use giving gifts to others to achieved power. Overall I would recommend this video to anyone who are really intrigue with other cultures and want to see Ongka humorous shirt.

Updated: Jul 02, 2020
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Documentary Film "Ongka's Big Moka". (2017, May 25). Retrieved from

Documentary Film "Ongka's Big Moka" essay
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