Sunday, June 20, 2010

Raising Money in Tonga

A koniseti, or concert, is a traditional way to raise money in Tonga. Schools have concerts every semester or so, and my school’s concert was last week. This was the first Tongan concert I’ve been to, and even more, I was going to be dancing in it! (More about my personal ta’olunga adventures in a separate post.)

A good general glimpse of a koniseti is: loud music blaring, a kid standing on the stage swaying somewhat to the music, and people from the audience come to tuck bills (usually 1 or 2 pa’anga, but maybe a parent donates 10 pa’anga or more) into the kid’s clothes. And then it’s repeated with the next kid.

There are 22 kids in my school. This is what happened for each one of them. My principal had a different idea a few years ago, and while it was the same basic “come give money to the kid moving to the music,” she enhanced it a bit. The kid on stage would call to someone in the audience to come and “buy” his necklace to ticket to a dance. Then the person would come up and tuck a few pa’anga in the kid’s shirt and maybe take the necklace or ticket. Then the rest of the audience would come up and give a few pa’anga too.

Most kids called to their parents, but some kids would call to someone else, and the more creative, unexpected calls (to the shopkeeper, the crazy old lady, the whole Ha’ano youth group) usually got laughs.

After each kid, the PTA money collectors announce how much money was raised from that kid.

The classes 4-6 also did a ballroom dancing-like dance. There are 8 kids in that combined class, and they’re all boys. That meant that half of them had to be girls for the dance. As I’ve said before, Tongan’s love to cross-dress. There were wigs, panty hose, and make-up. The pictures I put up don’t do them justice.

After several hours, the koniseti was over. The PTA announced that we had raised almost 2,000 pa’anga. Not bad for an evening’s work.

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