The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?

Front cover of The World Until Yesterday

I was invited by Fair Trade Hong Kong to present my coffee to them, and consider having Fair Trade Certifications. I met a few volunteers and Fair Trade Officer in Hong Kong at that time.

On my way back from Hong Kong, I was introduced by “my ancestors” to this book. Yes, it was them that introduced this book to me. I have been reading Jared Diamond’s books for some-time, but I have never read this one until they pointed it to me in this occasion.

I tried not to believe my eyes, because I know that not many people know about West Papua, and it has been clear to me that modern world, particularly Hong Kong people were clearly not interested in tribal peoples at all. The books says “What can we learn from traditional societies?” made me very happy to know that in fact modern people “are” interested in learning “something”, if not many things, from traditional peoples, my people, myself at least.

I have been asked by various modern people about many things about my tribal world. So many times I tried not to say what I exactly have and know about my tribal world. Jared Diamond does, in his books. I can say, “I am talking to you guys modern people though his books.” I have nothing left to say anymore. By reading his books, all of us will understand how we live in New Guinea.

Even though some of his interpretations on our views and perspectives are not precisely correct, I must acknowledge he has not only the knowledge but also understanding and appreciation on my culture and he has the authority and clarity to scientifically present the tribal world to modern society. He goes further by presenting an offer to modern society to “learn from the traditional societies”.

I am tribalist myself, but it does not mean I am advocating what Diamond is advocating, because what I have learned so far is that modern people do not respect traditional peoples, let alone their views and perspectives. But I do appreciate what Jared Diamond has said, by agreeing that perhaps there are things that modern people need to learn from tribal societies.

I am personally happy to know what Jared Diamond has said. And I hope other modern people out there will re-affirm the need, to convince me that modern societies do need to learn something from traditional societies.

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