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Painim liklik mak bilong tokples long Crocodile Prize: (3) Ol PNG raita i kirap bek gen

Vernacular traces in the Crocodile Prize: (3) The PNG Writers Rise Again

An essay in five parts

BY MICHAEL DOM WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS BY ED BRUMBY

Taim 2014 Crocodile Prize Nesenol Litereri Kompetisen ikirap gen (em igo bek gen long han bilong Keith Jackson na Phil Fitzpatrick) ol raita i pinisim bikpela wokmak tru olsem na Entologi buk em igat 497 pages. Dispela page mak emi abrusim mak bilong 2012 Entologi inap long 122 pages na i luk olsem wanpela liklik buk igo antap moa.

Tasol long dispela taim inobin igat planti hanmak long Tok Pisin na Tokples. Tripela man tasol i raitim tok-singsing na tanim tok, em Jimmy Drekore, David Wapar na mi iet.

Luksave i bin stap long ‘Sonet 6: Long tulait bai tumi kalapim dispela banis kalabus’ olsem em i mas stap insait long 2014 Entologi (p144), we mi bin salim igo long kompetisen long 2013, na mi noken giaman mi iet i pilim bel gut. Tasol taim mi lukim hanmak bilong Jimmy Drekore long “Mina Ya, Mama Ya, Oh Mama” (p201) na David Wapar ‘Laif i sot tumas’ (p207) mi hamamas moa iet long dispela tupela tok-singsing.

Bush Poet Drekore em i tainim tokples Dinga long Tok Pisin na Tok Inglis, na tripela tok-singsing wantaim i kamap nais tumas long ai na long nek na long iau bilong mi. Olsem nambawan ves i tok;

Kua gal mei re / Bona au re / Mone mone di re / Unao. 
---
Karim bilum kaukau / Olim rop bilong pik / Isi isi / Yu kam. 
---
Carrying that load / Holding that rope / Slowly / Walking home. 

Taim yu lukluk long dispela tok-singsing long pepa em bai luk olsem wanpela liklik hanmak, tasol taim yu ridim bai yu luksave olsem emi trupela tok-piksa. Na tu taim nek bilong yu pairap long tokples na tokpisin na tokinglis bai yu harim na pilim tru swit bilong stori. Bai yu inap lukim stret wanpela mama i wokabaut igo wantaim bilum kaukau na pik i bihainim em.

Dispela piksa emi laip bilong ol mama blong ples long wanwan dei taim yumi ol man-meri long siti raun insait long bus, kaikai long Bik Roosta na bel kaskas olsem laip bilong yumi hat tumas.

Mi save tingim tu hatwok bilong mama bilong mi iet long Mosbi Siti. Ating Anutu pasim het bilong mi gut na mi inosave larim mama bilong mi mekim wanpela bikpela hevi wok abrusim mak, bilong wanem wok blong em olsem kaunselor emi kam wantaim planti wari na hevi bilong sindaun blong ol man-meri. Dispela wok long siti tu em i olsem wok gaden na bihain bai karim bilum kaukau igo long haus. Na ating mi wanpela liklik pik i bihainim em tasol.

Emi bin wanpela longpela wokabaut tasol Drekore iet itokaut long bel tingting bilong yu mama olsem;

Yal molo dinga ple / Yal molao.
--- 
Yu tok kamap man na / Nau mi kamap man. 
---
You wanted to see me a man / Now I am a man. 

Ating ol narapela lain tu i ken pilim dispela tok-singsing long bun bilong ol iet. Dispela tok-singsing em inogat mak bilong em long kalakala nating, em igat mak bilong em long pen bilong laip. Dispela ol kain sotpela tok-singsing igatim pawa bilong stori-tru isave kamap long olgeta tokples.

Nambatri tok-singsing ikamap long 2014 Entologi em bilong David Wapar, ‘Laif i sot tumas’, we em i bihainim hanmak bilong tok-singsing ikam long ol veses wankain olsem ol ‘choir’ (planti man meri wantaim) singsing. Taim em raitim ol veses David i mas mekim sampela rul bilong em iet long bihainim taim em kamapim dispela tok-singsing. Nambawan ves igatim fopela lain. Bihain ves igatim tripela lain we i mekim wankain nek tasol igo. Na tu igatim wankain nek pairap long pinis bilong ol wanwan ves-lain, olsem ‘flawa’ na ‘aua’. David i raitim tok-singsing olsem sampela kain ‘proverbs’ (tok-piksa igat bilip) bilong Buk Baibel.

Mi save ting laif i olsem flawa 
We i soim kala long moning aua 
Tumoro, taim win na san i kam nau
Bai yu lukim lip blong flawa pundaun 
Laif blong yu na mi mas stap amamas 
Laif, laif, laif i sot tumas 
Em bai orait sapos oltaim yumi amamas

Tok Inglis bilong en tu em ikamapim gutpela tok-singsing na bihainim wankain rul David ibin makim. Mi ting olsem dispela kain hanmak emi soim strong bilong Tok Pisin long traim narapela narapela kain tok-singsing na strongim nek bilong tokpisin iet insait long wok litiritia.

Tasol dispela tok-singsing em ibin nambatu hanwok bilong David Wapar long Tok Pisin. Nambawan hanwok bilong em ‘Long nait bai yumi bung’ igat narapela kain tokgris bilong en;

Long nait bai yumi bung
Taim papa silip tingting i lus,
Bai yumi bung aninit long mun
Krunkutim giraun long ol pinga
Isi tasol, nongut ol i kirap 
Yu kam hariap mi wet istap

Em wanpela hap wok bilong ol yangpela man-meri na stori bilong em long Tok Pisin emi kamap nais tumas na ating bai lusim sampela swit bilong em sapos yumi traim tanim Tok Inglis.

Long 2015 Entologi buk inogat wanpela hanmak bilong Tok Ples na Tok Pisin. Jimmy ‘Bush Poet’ Drekore ibin putim tupela tok-singsing na wanpela moa em i raitim wantaim Marie-Rose Sau (em ibin kirapim na save bosim Poetry PNG Facebook page). Fopela tok-singsing bilong mi istap insait long 2015 Entologi tasol olgeta stap long Tok Inglis.

Long 2015 mi raitim wanpela kain tok-singsing ‘Mi na yu’ we igat ol sotpela tokpisin toktok bilong sutim bel na pulim nus wantaim. Sampela tok bilong en igo olsem; “Mi save long yu na yu save long mi / Mi no tingim yu na yu lusim tingting / Mi fit man tru na yu ia ino wanpela man tu!”

Dispela tok-singsing blong mi inobin kamap insait long Entologi tasol wantaim ol arapela wok bilong or raita long 2015 istap iet long Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude blog. Namel long dispela krismas ol raita ibin kamapim planti wok we igat bikpela mak na soim olsem ol raita igat namba tru.

Igo moa, long 2015 kompetisen em ibin nambatu yia bilong Cleland Family Award for Heritage Writing, we Bob Cleland i kamap sponsor long en. Sampela tumbuna stori tu i stap long Entologi blong 2014 na 2015.

Ex-kiap Mr. Paul Oates i bin raitim wanpela tok-singsing long dispela taim tu, ‘Equality of service delivery in rural PNG’. Em ibin gutpela long ai bilong mi long lukim Paul tromoi sampela tokpisin i kam insait long wokbung bilong mipela ol PNG raita long Crocodile Prize na PNG Attitude, bilong wanem ol kiap wantaim ol lapun papa-mama bilong mipela i kirapim Tok Pisin trutru long taim bilong ol kiap. Na sapos yu ridim tok-singsing bilong Paul bai yu inap skelim olsem bel tingting bilong em i stap iet wantaim yumi ol pipol bilong Papua Niugini.

Equality of service in rural PNG 

Mipla igat traipla hevi, 
Ol bus igat planti wari, 
Lain gavaman inostap, 
Na oli askim mipla antap, 
Bilong wanem yupla noinap, 
Long mekem ol samting kamap? 
Orait, bai mipla mekim nupla lo, 
I olsem bengbeng istap bipo, 
No ken wari na singaut moa, 
Watpo yupla paitim doa, 
Lo opis bilo mi? 

Ating dispela wok i soim piksa olsem mipela inap long brukim tokpisin wantaim ol sampela man-meri bilong narapela hap graun na em bai kamap gutpela tru long literatia bilong yumi. Tok Pisin em i stap long bun bilong mipela ol Papua Niugini, long toktok, long stori, tok-gris, tok-hait, tok-pilai, na tu long autim bel tingting, bel hevi, sori, poret na wari. Long dispela as i bai gutpela sapos Tok Pisin ken kamap strong moa long literatia, long kamautim ol stori, tingting na bel trutru bilong yumi Papua Niugini.

Ating long bihain taim baimbai yumi lukim sapos sampela wok i kamap long dispela tingting bilong mi long raitim ol tok-singsing na stori bilong yumi long tripela nesenol tokples na tu long tanim tokples. Mi iet i traim long brukim bus long kirapim sampela tok-singsing long Tok Pisin na ol gutpela poroman-meri halavim mi long tanim Tok Motu na Tok Ples Sinesine, na emi wanpela tok-singsing, ‘Enduwa Kombuglu’, we mama bilong mi iet, Mrs Ruth Dom, ibin tanim toktok long en.

Ooo Enduwa Kombuglu,
San emi holim het bilong yu pastaim tru
Olsem blessing bilong tumbuna man
Na tulait emi holim pasim yu isiisi tru
Olsem yangpela meri ino marit iet
---
Ooo Enduwa Kombuglu,
The sun touches your head first 
Like a blessing from our patriarchs
And dawn embraces you gently
Like a young unwedded woman
---
Ooo Enduwa Kombuglu 
Koma are bilin augidimwe one
Nile gome Abe bolemil umwe
Te kamuntagwai monemone dire uwai
Ene gai kumul ta kene pai kewa mele, elwe

Long dispela tok-singsing mi tromoi sampela tingting olsem, Endua Kombulgu emi nem bilong Mt Wilhelm we ol asples lain ibin givim long en. Tasol long taim bilong ol koloniel ol German ibin givim nem long wanpela yangpela bikman bilong ol iet, Kaiser Wilhelm. Ikam inap nau dispela nem bilong ol asples emi lus nating, na yumi olgeta i tingting olsem Mt Wilhelm emi nem bilong yumi iet, tasol nogat, narapela lain i tromoi nek bilong ol igo antap long yumi. Ating i wankain long ol narapela kain ol samting, ples na pasin long kantri bilong yumi. Em kalsa tu bai senis.

Yu sutim nus bilong yu igo antap long lukim heven
Tasol ol pikinini bilong yu ol i mekim paul raunraun 
Ol lus tingting pinis long pasin bilong sanap strong tru 
Na ol i sutim giraun na lukim ples nogut
.---
You hold your head high up to the heavens
But your children
Have forgotten the way to stand with strength
And they grovel in the dirt and misery
---
En gumanikan kaminil epe den we
En gage kane i kan kundalkenwe
En el enga bolemil, gage yumore wanmolumwe
Te yobalema i en augiderere molawe mile nigedomwe

Vernacular traces in the Crocodile Prize: (3) The PNG Writers Rise Again

When the 2014 Crocodile Prize National Literary was announced (organized again by Keith Jackson and Phil Fitzpatrick), writers contributed many entries – the 497page Anthology surpassed the 2012 Anthology by 122 pages.

Nevertheless, there were still not many entries in Tok Pisin and Tok Ples. Only three men wrote poetry and translations: Jimmy Drekore, David Wapar and me.

Although I had entered ‘Sonnet 6: At dawn we will escape the cage’ in the 2013 competition, it was included in the 2014 Anthology and I cannot deny that I was very happy. And when I saw Jimmy Drekore’s entry, ‘Mina Ya, Mama Ya, Oh Mama (p201) and David Wapar’s ‘Laif I sot tumas’ (Life is too short) I was even happier.

Bush Poet Drekore also translated his poem into Tok Pisin and English and these three looked and felt so nice to me. As the first verse says:

Kua gal mei re / Bona au re / Monemone di re / Unao
---
Karim bilum kaukau / Olim rop bilong pik / Isi isi / Yu kam
---
Carrying that load / holding that rope / Slowly / Walking home

When you look at this poem on paper, it looks like a little piece of writing. But when you read it you see a true word picture. And through the mother tongue, Tok Pisin and English you can hear and feel the real essence of the story: you can really see the woman walking with her bag of kaukau with a pig following.

This illustrates the life of all village women while we city folk ride buses, eat Big Rooster and are angry about our hard lives.

I think too about my mother’s hard work in Port Moresby. I think I ignored this and left her to do all the heavy work because her work is like a counsellor dealing with plenty of worries and concerns about everyone’s lives. This city work is the same as garden work when you carry a bag of kaukau to the house – and I’m like the pig that follows her.

There is another long journey that Drekore describes about our thinking about our mothers:

Yal molo dinga ple/Yal molau.
---
Yu tok kamap man na/Nau mi kamap man.
---
You wanted to see me a man/Now I am a man.

I think that everyone can feel this poem in their bones. It isn’t just empty decorative words. It speaks of the pain of life. This kind of short poem has the power of stories told in all mother tongues.

The third poem included in the 2014 Anthology – David Wapar’s ‘Life is too short’ has the style of verses as sung by a choir. When he wrote these verses, David used certain rules. The first verse has four lines. The next verse has three lines where he expresses one kind of thought and another in the final lines, about flowers and time. In this way, David’s poems are like Biblical proverbs.

Mi save ting laif i olsem flawa
We soim kala long moning aua
Tumoro, taim win na san I kam nau
Bai yu lukim lip bilong flawa pundaun
---
I think life is like a flower
Which blooms in the morning
Tomorrow when the wind blows the sand
You will see the petals fall
---
Laif blong yu na mi mas stap amamas
Laif, laif, laif is sot tumas
Em bai orait oltaim yumi amamas
---
Our lives should be happy
Life, life, life is too short
But it will be all right if we are always happy

The English version is also good, and follow’s David’s rule. I think that this style confirms that Tok Pisin can be used in other types and styles of poetry and makes a strong case for including Tok Pisin in our literature.

This was the second Tok Pisin poem by David Wapar. His first, ‘Long nait bai yumi bung’ – ‘When we meet at night’ has another kind of message.                

Long nait taim yumi bung
Taim papa silip tingting i lus
Bai yumi bung ananit long mun

Krukutim graun long ol pinga
Isi tasol, nongut ol I kirap
Yu kam hariap mi wet istap
---
When we meet at night
While Papa sleeps dreamlessly
We can meet underneath the moon

Step on the ground with every toe
Gently, don’t wake everyone
Come quickly I am waiting

This aspect of young men and women’s lives is expressed very well in Tok Pisin and, if translated into English, would lose much of its essence.

The 2015 Anthology contained no mother tongue or Tok Pisin entries. Jimmy ‘Bush Poet’ Drekore submitted two poems plus another he co-wrote with Marie-Rose Sau – who initiated and manages the Poetry PNG Facebook page. Four of my English poems were also published in the Anthology.

In 2015 I wrote ‘Mi na yu’ – Me and you, which is a short Tok Pisin description of teasing and deception. Part of the poem includes: ‘Mi save long yu na yu save long mi/Mi no tingim yu na yu lusim tingting/Mi fit man tru na yu ia ino wanpela man tu! (I know you and you know me/I don’t think about you and you forget/I’m a truly able-bodied man, and you’re not a man either’

Although this poem wasn’t included in the Anthology, other writers’ work produced during 2015 was published in the Keith Jackson and Friends: PNG Attitude blog. Around that Christmas, PNG writers produced many works, thus confirming how many of us there are.

Moving on, the 2015 competition was the second year of the Cleland Family Award for Heritage Writing, sponsored by Bob Cleland, and some of these heritage stories were published in the 2014 and 2015 anthologies.

During this time, former patrol officer, Mr Paul Oates wrote a Tok Pisin poem, ‘Equality of service delivery in rural PNG’. It was pleasing to see that Paul utilised the Tok Pisin that we, the community of PNG writers used in our Crocodile Prize entries and contributions to PNG Attitude – because it was the patrol officers and our grandparents who had promoted the use and development of Tok Pisin in pre-Independence times. If you read Paul’s poem you will understand the deep feeling he has for all the people of Papua New Guinea.

Equality of Service Delivery in rural PNG

Mipla igat traipela hevi
Ol bus igat planti wari
Lain gavman inostap
Na oli askim mipla antap
Bilong wanemn yupela noinap,
Long mekem ol samting kamap?
Orait, bai mipla mekim nupla lo
I olsem bengbeng istap bipo
No ken wari na singaut moa
Watpo yupla paitim doa
Lo opis bilo mi?
---
We have a heavy load
People of the bush have many worries
Government workers are absent
And everyone asks us administrators
Why aren’t you able
To make something happen?
All right, we’ll make a new law
Like the one that was there before
There’s no need to sing out again
Why are you knocking on the door
Of my office?

This work confirms that we can use Tok Pisin along with others from other places to make a strong contribution to our literature. Tok Pisin is deep in the bones of we Papua New Guineans: for conversation, stories, flattery, secrets, making fun and for expressing our thoughts and feelings, fears and worries. These are strong reasons for Tok Pisin to become an integral part of our literature, for telling our stories and explaining our thinking and our feelings as Papua New Guineans.

I hope that, in the future, my advocacy will bear fruit and there will be more of our poems and stories written in our three national languages and in translations of our mother tongues. I am trying to pave the way by writing some Tok Pisin poetry and good friends are helping me to translate works in Motu and mother tongues.

In years to come we will see more poetry and stories in our three national languages and in translations from our indigenous languages. Meanwhile, I am working hard to write Tok Pisin poetry and good friends of mine are helping me with translating Motu and indigenous languages. My mother, Mrs Ruth Dom translated the following poem, ‘Enduwa Kombuglu’:

Ooo Enduwa Kombuglu,
San emi holim het bilong yu pastaim tru
Olsem blessing bilong tumbuna man
Na tulait emi holim pasim yu isiisi tru
Olsem yangpela meri ino marit iet
---
Ooo Enduwa Kombuglu,
The sun touches your head first 
Like a blessing from our patriarchs
And dawn embraces you gently
Like a young unwedded woman
---
Ooo Enduwa Kombuglu 
Koma are bilin augidimwe one
Nile gome Abe bolemil umwe
Te kamuntagwai monemone dire uwai
Ene gai kumul ta kene pai kewa mele, elwe

In thinking about this poem, I am reminded that Endua Kombulgu was the original name ascribed to Mt Wilhelm by my forebears. It was the German colonists who called it Mt Wilhelm, in recognition of their then young leader, Kaiser Wilhelm. Nowadays, the original, indigenous names of our places have been forgotten and we think that Mt Wilhelm is the name that we gave to it. But, no, it was others who displaced our original name, and the same displacement has applied to many other features of our places and customs of our country: our very culture has been changed, by others.

Yu sutim nus bilong yu igo antap long lukim heven
Tasol ol pikinini bilong yu ol i mekim paul raunraun 
Ol lus tingting pinis long pasin bilong sanap strong tru 
Na ol i sutim giraun na lukim ples nogut
.---
You hold your head high up to the heavens
But your children
Have forgotten the way to stand with strength
And they grovel in the dirt and misery
---
En gumanikan kaminil epe den we
En gage kane i kan kundalkenwe
En el enga bolemil, gage yumore wanmolumwe
Te yobalema i en augiderere molawe mile nigedomwe
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Painim liklik mak bilong tokples long Crocodile Prize – Namba 2

“Vernacular traces in the Crocodile Prize – Part 2”

An essay in five parts

BY MICHAEL DOM WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS BY ED BRUMBY

2. Wanwan i raitim tok-singsing na tanim tok

Long kirap bilong Crocodile Prize Nesenol Litireri Kompetisen long 2011 nambawan taim we hanmak bilong wanpela poet i kamap long Tok Ples em long taim Jimmy Drekore ibin tanim tokples Dinga long wanpela tok-singsing ‘Advice from a Warrior’.

"Wana elge pikra / Son don’t go too far / bi panamia, kanre pa / 
There’ll be ambush / Careful, don’t push / Nenma unawa kanre, 
Kuman meklanna / When your fathers are here / You’ll step closer / 
Nene hone pikra / Never go alone."
Above: Inaugural prize winners 2011, (L – R) Martyn Namorong (essay), Lapieh Landu (women), Jimmy Drekore (poem) and Jeffrey Febi (story)

Ating dispela ves bilong tok-singsing emi sutim stret tingting bilong yumi long nau olsem “Nenma unawa kanre, Kuman meklanna / Nene hone pikra”, em olsem, “Taim ol papa bilong yu istap / Bai yu ikam klostu / Noken igo yu iet”.

Dispela em i stori long taim bilong ol tumbuna i laik na pait ol yangpela man i save kisim skul toktok wantaim ol papa bilong ol na ol lidaman bilong pait. Ol i mas stap klostu wantaim na noken tru ron igo pas bilong wanem ol birua bai pundaunim ol wanwan sapos ol igo bilong ol iet.

Tok-singsing bilong Drekore em i makim wankain nek olsem yumi mas harim ol gutpela toktok na skelim bilong ol papa na mama long kamap olsem strongpela man na meri bilong Papua Niugini, na tu long holim strong ol gutpela kastam, kalsa na pasin we ol tumbuna igatim long kamapim strongpela komuniti na wokbung wantaim.

Jimmy Drekore wanpela poet husait i save raitim tok-singsing bihainim stret nek bilong ol tumbuna long tokples Dinga. Em ino save mekim ol kainkain kalakala toktok nating long bilasim nek bilong em, long soim save na givim em iet biknem, nogat. Jimmy i kisim nem ‘Bush Poet’, na trutru em i save kamautim stori long tok-pisin ikam long nek tru bilong bus na asples tumbuna.

Long lukluk bilong mi Drekore em ibin brukim kiau stret long raitim nambawan tok-singsing long tokples Dinga we istap insait long Crocodile Prize Entologi 2011 (p98). Inogat narapela raita i bin putim hanmak long Tok Ples na long Tok Pisin long wanpela wok bilong ol long dispela taim.

Long 2012 kompetisen ibin kirap strong tru na Entologi bilong dispela yia em bikpela buk inapim 375 pages. Tasol insait long dispela buk bai yu inap lukim tupela tok-singsing tasol long Tok Pisin.

Wanpela tok-singsing mi raitim em ibin nambawan hanwok we mi tanim-tok Inglis ‘Where we lived’ igo tokpisin ‘Ples we mitupela ibin stap wantaim’ (p147). Dispela tok-singsing i stap iet olsem wanpela hanwok mi laikim tru. Dispela tok-singsing istap tu long tokples Hiri Motu.

"Strongpela win ibin kam long nait, em soim piksa
Bikpela belhat na laikim istap namel long graun na solwara 
Na mitupela ino bin save olsem
Dispela taim bai klostu pinis
Mitupela stori long diwai-wine em ino karim kaikai
Na putim iau tasol
Long ol toktok inogat nek"

Keith Jackson ibin skelim olsem dispela tok-singsing igatim nek bilong bel sore tru blong yumi ol Melanesia we i narakain long ol arapela lain.

Narapela tok-singsing mi raitim ‘Yobwandaruanem’ inobin stap insait long Entologi tasol em igat stori long singsing olsem ol tumbuna isave mekim. Dispela singsing mipela ol sumatin long Gordons Hai Skul ibin lainim long 1990 Kalsa Dei, mi tingim nek bilong em tasol tokples mi lus tingting pinis. Long dispela tok-singsing bai yu harim na bihanim nek bilong ol lain i save danis na singsing tumbuna. Em igatim ol singsing isave kamap gen na gen (chorus), na tu igat tumbuna nem Yobwandaruanem, emi wanpela strognpela diwai, na singsing eim autim stori long ol kain pasin bilong em. Dispela stori tok-singsing i givim piksa bilong gutpela lidaman we ol man-meri i laikim long en na save bihainim long painim gutpela sindaun.

Narapela tok-singsing Bernard Sinai i bin raitim em ‘Trupla Man’ (p225). Long dispela tok-singsing Bernard tromoi wanpela nek igo long ol man i save paitim meri bilong ol, bikmaus, bikhet raun na ino save long pasin bilong ol man tru; “Trupla man ino man blong pait / Tasol trupla man i save long pait / Yu no trupla man, yu mas giaman man ya”.

Ating dispela nek i mas kamap strong long nau.

Long Crocodile Prize 2013 mipela ol niupela kru i laik ronim kompetisen tasol em inobin kamap gut, olsem na inogat planti wokmak bilong dispela yia. Entologi buk em 169 pages tasol na soim olsem mipela ino mekim gut toksave na kirapim tingting bilong ol raita long salim wok ikam. Na ating imas igat sampela bel hevi tu i pasim laik bilong ol raita long salim hanwok bilong ikam long kompetisen.

Mi iet inobin wanbel long wanem mi bin raitim na tanim tokpisin long ol sampela tok-singsing we igat nem ‘sonnet’ long Tok Inglis. Ol sonet em ol kain hanmak bilong ol Inglis long bihainim taim yu i laik raitim wanpela tok-singsing. Mi brukim het tru long dispela wok na kamapim tripela sonet tasol, nem bilong ol ‘Sonet 6: Long tulai bai tumi kalapim dispela banis kalabus’, “Sonet 8: Dispela Nambawan Meri Tru’ (English), na ‘Sonet 10: ‘lele ino mo laikim pinga bilong mi”. Sonet 8 tasol i bin kamap long 2013 Entologi (p50).

Long narapela tupela sonet mi tanim tokpisin tasol Sonet 10 em i nambawan sonnet we mi tingting wantaim na raitim long Tok Pisin na mi hamamas tru long lukim hanwok bilong mi long en. Mi laikim tru nek bilong tokpisin igo insait long dispela hanmak bilong ol Inglis poet olsem William Shakespeare na John Milton. Ating em wanpela kain wokmak mi putim long kisim sonnet long Tok Inglis ikamap tru olsem sonet bilong Tok Pisin na ino long nem tasol. Dispela Sonnet 10 em ianapim stret hanmak bilong sonnet tru na mi iet hamamas, tasol yu iet iken skelim.

2. Very few wrote poems with translations

When the Crocodile Prize began in 2011, the first time a poet wrote in his mother tongue was when Jimmy Drekore wrote and provided English translation for his Dinga poem, ‘Advice from a Warrior’

"Wana elge pikra / Son don’t go too far / bi panamia, kanre pa /
There’ll be ambish / Careful you don’t push / Nenma unawa kanre,
Kuman meklanna / When your fathers are here / You’ll step closer /
Nene hone pikra / Never go alone."

I think this verse goes to the heart of our current thinking: ‘Nenma unawa kanre, Kuman meklanna/Nene hone pikra’, which is, “Your forefathers’ time remains/ Come close/You cannot leave”

This is a story about when our forefathers liked to fight and elders and leaders taught all the young men about fighting. They were told to stay close together and not go running around because the enemy would kill them if they did.

Jimmy Drekore’s poem reminds us that listening to the sage advice and thinking of our fathers and mothers will make all Papua New Guinean men and women strong, will help us to maintain and strengthen our traditional customs, culture and thinking and so make our communities and workplaces strong.

Jimmy Drekore is a poet who knows how to write poetry which supports the traditions of the Dinga language. He doesn’t write all kinds of empty words to illustrate his ideas and to promote himself. Jimmy has been called a ‘Bush Poet’ and it’s true that he knows how to write Tok Pisin stories that have their roots in ‘the bush’ and its traditions.

I note, too, that Drekore has broken the mould by writing the first Dinga language poem to be included in the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2011 (p98). So far, no other writer has made their mark by using their mother tongue or Tok Pisin in this way.

Although the 2012 competition was especially successful, with a large 375-page Anthology, there were only two Tok Pisin poems.

One poem I wrote was the first time I translated an English poem, ‘Where we lived’ into Tok Pisin – ‘Ples we mitupela ibin stap waintaim’ (p147). This is one poem that I really like. The poem has also been translated into Hiri Motu.

"There was the wind that night, a sign 
Tempestuous love affair of earth and sea
And we did not know that
That time would soon be at an end
We spoke of the barren grapevine
And listened in silence 
To words left unsaid
…
Hanuaboi ai lai ekau, una na toa
Tanobada bona Davara edia lalokau dagedagena 
Bena ai na asia diba
Una nega na dia daudau baine ore
Gabani vinena aherevalaia
Bena dege dege rahu ai ahakala
Hereva ta sehe gwaurai"

Keith Jackson interpreted this poem as describing the distinction between we Melanesians and everyone else.

Another poem I wrote, ‘Yobwandaruanem’, which wasn’t included in the Anthology, has a reference to a song that our forefathers composed. When I and my fellow students at Gordons High School sang this song at the 1990 Culture Day, I thought that this is just traditional language and thought no more about it. In this poem you can hear and understand how the people know traditional dancing and songs. It has a chorus which is repeated over and over, and has a traditional name Yobwandaruanem – ‘strong timber’, and the song tells all kinds of stories about it. It is a narrative poem which describes a much-loved leader who provided a stable life for everyone.

Another poem that Bernard Sinai wrote is ‘Trupla Man’ (p225) in which Bernard talks to men who assault women, who have big mouths/talk too much are stubborn and don’t know how to behave like a true man: ‘ Trupla man ino man bilong pait/Tasol trupela man isave long pait/Yu no trupela man, yu mas giaman man ya”. (A true man doesn’t fight/ Even though he knows how to fight/You’re not a true man, you’re just a pretender.)

I think that this kind of voice will thrive now.

A new local PNG team administered the 2013 Crocodile Prize. But it didn’t work out very well, mainly because we didn’t receive many entries. The annual anthology comprised only 169 pages, which reflected, probably, our inability to inspire writers to submit entries. And I think that some writers must have had concerns about sending entries for the competition.

I too was concerned because I had been writing and translating some Tok Pisin poems which are called ‘sonnets’ in English. Sonnets are a particular form of English poetry. This work made my head hurt and I was able to produce three only, namely: Sonet 6: At dawn we leap free of these prison walls; Sonet 8: The Perfect Woman, and Sonet 8:  My ukulele loves me no longer. Only Sonnet 8 was published in the 2013 Anthology.

I translated two of the sonnets into Tok Pisin. Sonet 10, however, was the first time I thought about, and then wrote in Tok Pisin – and I was really pleased with the result. I would love it if we could add a Tok Pisin voice to the works of English poets such as William Shakespeare and John Milton.

I think I managed to master the form and structure of English sonnets in my Tok Pisin sonnet. So, it’s not just a sonnet in name. I am really pleased that my Sonnet 10 satisfies the ‘rules’ of English sonnets. You can judge for yourself.

Sonet 10: ‘lele ino mo laikim pinga blong mi

Long taim mi paitim ‘lele bilong mi
fopla string stap long pinga bilong mi
mekim swit mo iet singsing bilong mi.
	
Bihain mi raun long paitim trabel man
long narapela hap, Buka ailan.
Mi stap, long oda bilong ol kaptan,

pinga bilong mi pulim masin gun.
Mi kamap olsem wanpela ‘lele string,
open faia long oda blong gavman.

Mi no save long– ol–no save long mi.
I tru mipela wanpela kantri?
Ol tu paitim ‘lele olsem blong mi…

Bihain mi kam bek long ples bilong mi
‘lele ino mo laikim pinga blong mi.



Sonnet 10: My ukulele loves me no longer

Once I played my trusty ukulele
Four strings obeyed the touch of my fingers
How so sweetly we would sing together

But I was sent to fight against rebels
At a faraway place, Buka Island
There I lived under my captains’ orders

My fingers now caressed a machine gun 
I had become a ukulele string
To open fire on government command

I did not know them – they did not know me.
Is it true, we are from the same country?
They play the ukulele just like me…

When I returned to my home lands at last
My ukulele loved me no longer.
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Painim liklik mak bilong tokples long Crocodile Prize

“Vernacular traces in the Crocodile Prize”

An essay in five parts

BY MICHAEL DOM WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS BY ED BRUMBY

1. Maski salim tingting. Kirapim gen

LONG 2010, Keith Jackson AM na Philip Fitzpatrick, ibin kirapim tingting long kamapim nesenol literari kompetisen – Crocodile Prize. Mipela sampela man meri ibin raitim toktok igo ikam wantaim ol long blog site bilong Keith Jackson, em PNG Attitude, na mipela stap wanbel long tingting ol igatim. Mi iet isave givim tupela nem Grand Pukpuk.

L – R: Daniel Kumbon, Phil Fitzpatrick, Martyn Namorong and Keith Jackson, Francis Nii (seated)

Sotpela stori bilong tupela man emi oslem, ol ibin stap long PNG long taim bilong kiap, bipo long independens. Keith em ibin wanpela tisa na journalist na Phil ibin wanpela kiap o patrol opisa. Ol igat bikpela stori bilong ol iet long laip bilong ol na oltaim isave gat tingting long PNG olsem em i ples we ol ibin yangpela man long en. Na tu ol ibin gat gutpela luksave, wantaim bikpela bilip, olsem yumi ol PNG man-meri igat save na pasin bilong tok stori na mekim tok-singsing, wantaim drama na ol kainkain art wok we makim stret hanwok bilong Papua Niugini na bikpela ples Melanesia.

Papua Niugini Crocodile Prize Nesenol Litireri Kompetisen ibin kirapim wok bilong en long 2011, olsem na dispela yia 2021 em i makim namba ten krismas igo pinis long stori bilong wanpela kain kirap-gen o ‘revival’ bilong ol man-meri isave gat laikim tru long ridim na raitim ol stori, skelim tingting, tok-singsing na raitim ol bikpela stori buk ‘novel’. Win moni mak bilong wanpela Crocodile Prize emi faiv-tausen kina (K5,000), ino pinat samting.

Namel long dispela taim, ating sikspela yia tasol, mipela ol sampela PNG raita ibin kamapim ol kainkain wokmak long dispela save igatim nem ‘contemporary literature’. As bilong dispela nem emi olsem ‘ol stori tru bilong nau iet tasol’. Planti mipela inogatim skul-save long dispela wok litiritia na mipela brukim bus tasol igo na kamap long ples i kilia liklik. Tete wok mak bilong ol PNG raita em istap long sikspela buk we Phil Fitzpatrick i pablisim long Pupuk Publications. Bihain long yia 2017 sampela pundaun i kamap long Crocodile Prize na mipela ino moa stap wantaim.

Fopela yia igo nau long dispela turangu Crocodile Prize em idai pinis. Bus ikirap gen na haitim mipela wanwan raita. Tasol yumi noken sori na wari tumas, bilong wanem igat wanwan raita man-meri husait i sapotim iet wok bilong raitim ol stori, skelim tingting, stretim toktok na tu mekim liklik nek ikamap long autim bel hevi na gutpela bel wantaim long storgim PNG. Emi bikpela karim kaikai bilong Crocodile Prize na tu dispela pasin emi wanpela wok trutru bilong literitia bilong kantri.

Ating emi gutpela long lukluk igo bek gen pastaim long dispela taim bilong Crocodile Prize na luksave long wokmak na tu long kainkain hanmak ol PNG raita ibin kamapim, na yumi skelim wanem emi gutpela na nogut long en.

Mi isave laik long ridim na tingting long olgeta kainkain tok-singsing (poetry) we ol raita ibin kamapim. Tok-singsing emi wanpela kain pasin we istap long as tingting na save bilong olgeta man-meri bilong ples griraun, na isave stap strong tru wantaim ol kain bel tingting, pasin na skelim yumi wanwan lain igat long en. Ating wankain long ol stori tu.

Tasol long lukluk bilong mi ating ol planti moa wok bilong ol raita ikamap long Tok Inglis, na wanwan long Tok Pisin tasol klostu inogat wanpela wok long Tok Motu na ol arapela 800 plus tokples yumi igatim long en.

Em ino bin wanpela asua bilong Crocodile prize. Dispela Prize em i stap long Tok Inglis, tasol ibin igat singaut igo aut olsem ol raita iken mekim wok long Tok Pisin na Tok Motu. Keith Jackson na Phil Fitzpatrick tu igatim liklik save long ol dispela toples bilong PNG na igatim ol sampela lain bilong halavim tu igat save long tupela tokples, we ol iken skelim ol raita. Tasol nogat. Mipela ino bin lukim planti narapela tokples na inogat planti ibin tanim tokples.

Ating dispela ino wanpela bikpela asua long bai yumi wari tumas. Em i laik bilong wanwan sapos yumi laik raitim Tok Inglis, Tok Pisin na Tok Motu. Na tu, pasin kastam bilong yumi long kamautim tingting na toktok long ol wanwan tokples tumbuna i narapela-narapela. Mi nogat gutpela save long skelim olgeta dispela ol pasin kastam na kalsa. Olsem na mi lusim long arapela save lain iken autim tingting.

Naunau mi lukluk igo bek gen long ol wokmak bilong Crocodile Prize na mi salim tingting tasol long dispela ol gutpela taim we mipela ikamapim ol kainkain tok-singsing, long wanem pasin bilong tok-singsing em istap pinis long kalsa bilong yumi, em ol save man-meri bilong litiritia i givim nem ‘oral literature’ na long Tok Pisin yumi ken itok ‘orol litiritia’ em ‘pasin bilong holim save insait long toktok’. Yumi ken luksave olsem pasin bilong ol tumbuna long givim skul long ol pikinini insait long ol tok-stori na singsing na danis, em inapim dispela mak orol litiritia.

Em ibin mekim lewa bilong mi solap gut tru long sanap olsem wanpela man Papua Niugini taim mi ridim ol dispela stori, tok-singsing, skelim tingting na tu ol novel-buk, we ol wankantri man-meri ol i putim wokmak. Tasol long nau mi pilim olsem lewa inogat strong na ai kiau bilong mi i raun nating antap long giraun nogut.

Bai mi lukluk igo bek gen long dispela ol gutpela wokmak bilong Papua Niugini litiritia na singautim tewel bilong tumbuna Pukpuk long halavim mi painim liklik nek bilong tokples long Crocodile Prize.

Dispela liklik nek inoken lus nating igo nogat, mi laikim bai yumi kirapim gen wantaim niupela strong. Em wok bilong yumi ol Papua Niugini iet long kirapim, em nau toksave bilong mi igo long ol wanwok raita olsem ‘wok mas igo het’.

1. Stop reminiscing. Start it again

IN 2010, Keith Jackson AM and Philip Fitzpatrick came up with the idea of establishing a national literary competition – the Crocodile Prize. Writing on Keith’s website, PNG Attitude, some of us supported their idea. In recognition, I gave them the name, ‘Grand Pukpuk’.

By way of background, these two men lived a long while in PNG in pre-independence times: the time of the patrol officers. Keith was a teacher and journalist and Phil was a kiap (patrol officer). Being young men at the time, both have insightful stories about, and a good understanding of us and our lives. They also acquired a good understanding of our culture and our story-telling, poetry, drama, art and handicrafts – throughout PNG, and Melanesia in general.

They established the Papua New Guinea Crocodile Prize in 2011 and this year, 2021, marked ten Christmases since the start of another revival of everyone enjoying reading and writing stories, wondering and imagining about poetry and writing novels. The Crocodile Prize money of K5,000 was not just peanuts.

Midway during this time, I think six years on, some of we PNG writers came up with all kinds of ideas about this ‘contemporary literature’. The reason for this name is because it is about stories about now. Plenty of us have had no education about this kind of literature and we had to clarify what it meant. The ideas of PNG writers can be found in six books which Phil Fitzpatrick published in Pukpuk Publications.

After 2017, something happened with the Crocodile Prize and we could not participate any more.

Four years ago, now, sadly, the Crocodile Prize died and we writers were left in the shadows. But we should not be too sorry or worry too much because we have men and women writers who support the work involved in story-writing, developing and testing ideas, having conversations, sticking their necks out to remove the sadness and building support for promoting PNG generally. The success of the Crocodile Prize has helped to develop our country’s literature and I think it’s good to look back at that time now to understand how it encouraged the development of PNG writers and writing – and what worked and what didn’t.

I enjoy reading and thinking about the many kinds of poetry that we writers have produced. Poetry is one way of recording our thinking and understanding of ourselves and our place in the world and exists strongly in our thinking, our customs and our imagination. I think the same about stories as well.

Sadly, while many writers write in English and a few write in Tok Pisin there are close to none who write in Motu or any of our other 800 indigenous languages.

This isn’t the fault of the Crocodile Prize. While writing in English predominates, Tok Pisin and Motu entries are also encouraged. Keith and Phil and their Crocodile Prize colleagues have enough understanding of Tok Pisin and Motu to be able to assess and judge entries written in these languages. But there have been none. And there have been no entries written in other indigenous languages either – even though, it must be said, we don’t have many who can translate them.

I don’t think that this is a problem that we should worry about too much. It’s a personal choice to write in English, Tok Pisin or Motu. It is natural for us, also, to think and speak in our native language. I don’t have a good enough understanding of how to assess different customs and culture. And I don’t know anyone who can explain it to me.

As I reflect on the Crocodile Prize, I think mainly about how good it is that we wrote all kinds of poetry and how poetry is part of our culture. Experts call it ‘oral literature’ – in Tok Pisin, ‘orol litiritia’ – which is used as a way of remembering and explaining our culture and ourselves. We know, of course, how our forefathers’ educated children through stories, poetry, songs and dance – through this oral literature.

Along with all Papua New Guineans, my heart swell with pride, when I read these stories, poetry, essays and novels of my fellow country men and women. However, nowadays, in the relative absence of any literature written in our mother tongues, my soul feels weak and my spirit wanders aimlessly on barren ground.

As I reflect again on the creativity of Papua New Guinea literature, I ask the spirit of the original Crocodile to help me find a voice for indigenous languages in the Crocodile Prize.

So that this small voice doesn’t disappear, I would hope that we can re-establish the Crocodile Prize, even more strongly. This work belongs to all Papua New Guineans and my appeal goes out to all writers: ‘This work must continue’.

Making a dictionary for your own language

CRAIG ALAN VOLKER
| Edited & updated, Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude, 22 January 2022

‘Noken Simuk – Smoking forbidden. Leave the matchbox and inflammable matches inside the box’ (Robert Eklund)

First published in The National, February 2018

PORT MORESBY – All of us probably remember dictionaries from when we were at school.

They had a long list of English words and explained them in English. This is a monolingual dictionary. Words and explanations in the same language.

Another type of dictionary is bilingual, where the explanations of words are given in another language.

This type is especially useful when we’re learning another language.

For example, a Tok Pisin-English dictionary gives Tok Pisin explanations of English words and English translations or explanations for Tok Pisin words.

maski = never mind, forget about it

forget it = maski

An example is the Oxford Tok Pisin-English Dictionary I edited with Susan Baing, Brian Deutrom and Russell Jackson some years ago

So bilingual dictionary like this is useful for foreigners learning Tok Pisin or Papua New Guineans learning English.

Bilingual dictionaries are also useful for documenting a language that might otherwise not be written at all or only partially.

This is especially so when a language is in danger of disappearing or when difficult terminology, such as plant and animal names or expressions related to customary practices, are no longer being learned by young people.

Putting these important words in a dictionary preserves them for future generations and can be retrieved long after a community has forgotten them.

These days many PNG languages are in danger of disappearing as young people prefer to use Tok Pisin or English.

Even if a language is not totally disappearing, it is often the case that only a simple form of the language is used, and the older and more complex words and grammar are disappearing.

I omce received a letter from a young Tolai who was worried about this happening in his Kuanua language.

He said that, while his grandparents taught him how to speak Kuanua using complicated vocabulary and eloquent oratory, most of the young people spoke it in a simple way, taking many words from Tok Pisin and English.

He was worried about this and that Kuanua, a very rich language, would be passed on in a diminished form to future generations.

Of course, a dictionary alone will not reverse this trend. After all, there are dictionaries for many dead languages that are no longer spoken.

But by recording the important words in a dictionary, people who want to learn them in the future will have a resource they can refer to.

So how can someone with no linguistic training do this?

The first step is to check online or in a library to see if there is already some kind of dictionary for your language.

One good place to start on the internet is the Ethnologue website of international languages, which is partly subscriber-driven but still offers much information free of charge.

Today, for example, the website featured the Haruai language of Madang, spoken by about 2,000 people and still in good shape.

Apparently speeches and sermons by visiting outsiders are always translated into Haruai.

There is also OLAC, the Open Language Archives Community, an international partnership that is creating a worldwide virtual library of language resources.

If your language does not have a dictionary, or if there’s a dictionary available but you feel it needs additional data, you can start to do this yourself.

Even if you do not have linguistic training, you can make word lists with English or Tok Pisin explanations and translations.

It is especially important to have lists in your language related to the environment, customary beliefs and practices, and oral history, as this knowledge is disappearing quickly.

Another resource is Wiktionary, an online collaborative tool similar to Wikipedia, that allows anyone to create, add to or edit a dictionary in any language.

Although learning how to use Wiktionary does take a bit of time and patience, once you know how to edit and add entries, people anywhere can add to the dictionary.

Several years ago, I worked with Motu-speaking colleagues at Divine Word University to see how this could work for their language. We set up a Motu Wiktionary Dictionary and wrote a number of entries for people to see.

It hasn’t been touched for a while but you can check it out (and even add to it) here.

An advantage of publishing online with Wiktionary is that the site can be accessed by anyone with a smartphone and, because you do not need to wait until you have a finished product to publish, people can comment on the dictionary as it is being written.

It then becomes a true community effort, in keeping with Melanesian custom.

If you want to learn more about dictionaries, SIL PNG offers lexicography (dictionary-writing) workshops from time to time.

https://www.silpng.org/

SIL has also written several guides about dictionary writing and compilation as well as software to use on a laptop to make dictionary compilation and organisation easier.

More importantly, they have a website for public use, link to it here, where people with very little linguistic and computer expertise can produce an online dictionary for their own language.

Like Wiktionary, this is organised so that it can be a community project, with people in different places contributing at different times.

Ideally, provincial and national governments would support the documentation of PNG languages and indigenous knowledge through the compilation and publication of dictionaries.

Unfortunately, this is not yet the case. It is ironic that governments in the still colonised parts of Melanesia–Indonesian Papua and French New Caledonia–do much more to support tok ples dictionary compilation than the governments of independent Melanesian countries.

But in the absence of government support, there is still much valuable work that individuals and groups here can do on their own to preserve the words in their languages through dictionaries.

Professor Craig Volker is a linguist living in New Ireland and an Adjunct Professor in The Cairns Institute at James Cook University in Queensland

Michelle Rooney short-listed for book award

Michelle Rooney’s mother, Nahau, spearheaded the role of women in PNG politics – a tough task at the best of times

By KEITH JACKSON – posted on PNG Attitude Blog

MELBOURNE – Michelle Nayahamui Rooney – a dual Papua New Guinea-Australia citizen of Manus heritage – is one of 10 shortlisted writers in contention for the 2022 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship.

The annual award is given by Writers Victoria to an Australian writer for a proposed work of biography.

Dr Rooney is a research fellow at the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University, a unit that researches and analyses Australian aid and global development with a focus on Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

After working in the development sector in PNG, Dr Rooney completed her doctorate at the Australian National University, where her projects include research exploring strategies and practical measures for dealing with family and sexual violence.

The project that Dr Rooney has proposed to the selection committee is to write a biography of her mother, Nahau Rooney, one of the first women elected to the PNG parliament.

Nahau Rooney was an audacious, hard working and sometimes controversial leader (Michelle Nayahamui Rooney)

Nahau Rooney, who died in 2020 aged 75, was one of three women elected to parliament at PNG’s first post-independence elections in 1977.

Representing the Manus electorate, she was a pioneer in PNG politics and respected for her audacity, hard work and leadership qualities.

Upon her death, the late Sir Michael Somare said “she was a wonderful woman and Manus has lost a great leader”.

The $20,000 fellowship commemorates the life and work of Australian author Hazel Rowley will be judged by writers Jeff Sparrow and Clare Wright, Rowley’s friend Lynn Buchanan and Rowley’s sister Della.

The Fellowship was established in 2011 by the Hazel Rowley Literary Fund with the support of Writers Victoria to encourage Australian authors to attain a high standard of biography writing and to commemorate the life, ideas and writing of Rowley.

“We had an extremely strong field of applications this year, with a wide range of biographical subjects,” said Della Rowley. “This made the shortlisting hard.

“We received a large number of high-quality proposals.

“Perhaps as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns, writers were busy thinking about good topics for biographies.

“The shortlist reflects a range of emerging and established writers, and a varied range of topics, from neglected historical subjects to contemporary artists,” Della Rowley said.

The winner will be announced in Melbourne on Wednesday 2 March.

With thanks to Robin Hide

The taxing art of translation

Baka Bina – “Translation is really hard work, very taxing on the mind”

By BAKA BINA – PNG Aittitude blog

PORT MORESBY – I recently submitted a short story of mine to the Commonwealth Writers competition. It was written in Tok Pisin and I had translated it into English.

Ino long taim igo pinis, mi salim wanpela hap stori igo long Komonwelt Raitin Resis long ples bilong Misis Kwin. Mi raitim dispela stori long Tok Pisin na bihain mi mekim wok tanim tok na putim dispela stori ken long Tok Ingis.

I wrote it in Tok Pisin first then, paragraph by paragraph, rewrote it in English, trying to stick to the meaning as best I could.

Hawsat na me mekim olsem – raitim wanpela stori long tupela tok ples.  Mi raitim stori long Tok Pisin pastaim na bihain mi go long hap ‘paragraph’ (sorre, mi no tingim Tok Pisin nem bilong dispela hap toktok paragraph) na tanim tok igo long Tok Inglis wan wan paragraph. Mi traim insait long ol despela paragraph long istap klostu long ‘meaning’.  Yu ken lukim howsat mi mekim long hap bilong stori mi tok mi salim igo long ples bilong Misis Kwin.

I applaud Dr Dom, because translation is really hard work, very taxing on the mind. Not so much the writing but the ideas that the words must carry, the meaning and the intent. 

I’d say it must have taxed Ed Brumby very much and I also say it is superb work he did in translation.

Mahn ya katim tok em mekim tru tru stret. Wonem tok, Dokta Maikol laik mekim, tanim tok em katim stret ya.

Here’s an extract and translation from my Commonwealth Writers story.

Na Mama Weh? Wonem Samtin Kamap Long Mama?

What Must Have Happened to Mama?

‘Iyeno!’ Kol bilong avinun ikam long baret na san igo daun klostu klostu long hap.  Klostu em bai go daun long silip.  Hangere bel bilong mi tanim tanim mekim mi lukluk go daun long hap weh mama isave stap long em.  Mi tingim, em bai stap klostu o longwe liklik.  Em taim bilong painim aut.

‘Iyeno!’ The afternoon chills followed the depression up and the sun was slowly setting to the west.  Soon it would sink behind the mountains to go to sleep.  I was very hungry when I looked down to see if I could find where mama would be.  I was wondering if she would be near here or at the far end of the garden. It was time to find out.

‘Mama, Iyeno!’ Mi singaut tu long tokples. 

‘Mama, Iyeno!’ I also called out in our language.

Mi sanap antap long maunten  na singaut isi igo down long baret.   Ples igo daun na mi save olsem liklik nek bilong mahn save ron igo daun na long wonem hap mama istap, em ken harim neck bilong me.

I stood at the edge of break going down to the garden and called out softly.  I knew that you just needed to call softly and the call would float down the gully to where mama would be and she could discern my voice. 

Nogat bekim ikam bek antap long mi.  Mi stap long het bilong  gaden na lukluk igo daun.  Mi traim tingim weh hap bai mi painim liklik samting bilong kaikai long holim bel. 

There were no replies back up to me.  I stayed at the head of the garden and looked down.  I tried to think where will I find things to eat to hold up my empty stomach.

Mi tingim laulau tasol em istap arasait long gaden na tu em bilong ol lain kasen bilong mi.  Nogut ol bel kross.  Mi lukluk igo long ples bilong ol guava.  Ino taim bilong guava tasol bai sans wanpela bai stap hait long ol lip. 

I thought about the laulau fruit across the fence in my cousin’s garden.  I did not want to create any angst against me.  I looked towards where the guava trees grew.  It was guava season but I knew there would be a few off seasonal ones out of sight amongst the leaves.

Tok Pisin: A language on history’s march

By CHRIS OVERLAND – PNG Attitude Blog

ADELAIDE – The article by Baka Bina, ‘The Taxing Art of Translation, has recently stimulated much comment and discussion in PNG Attitude.

Accomplished writers like Michael Dom, Daniel Kumbon, Phil Fitzpatrick and others have offered their own insights and perspectives on the problems inherent in translating Tok Pisin into English.

Thinking about this issue, my mind immediately pondered the way in which modern English has evolved over many centuries into the enormous and pervasive force it is today.

And I believe that the history of English offers a few clues about what may happen to Tok Pisin.


I must preface these remarks by stressing that I am an historian, not an etymologist or linguist.

I am a native speaker of one English dialect (being Australian English) who happens to have a limited understanding of Tok Pisin.

The origins of English lie in the very distant past. It is fairly certain that the ancient inhabitants of what is now England, the Britons, spoke Celtic languages.

This is unsurprising given England’s physical proximity to what is now France, which was inhabited by various Celtic peoples.

The invasion and settlement of Britain by the Romans introduced Latin to the Britons and, over 400 years of Roman occupation, many Latin words found their way into common usage.

When the Romans departed, it was not very long before England was invaded and settled by people from mainland Europe, notably those of Norse or Germanic origin.

Despite their colourful warrior garb (reminds me of somewhere), Celtic-speaking Britons proved no match for invaders from northern Europe, although elements of their culture and language remain in the UK

They brought with them their own languages which over time merged into what became Anglo-Saxon or Old English.

The Celtic speaking Britons were pushed out of England into Wales, Cornwall and Scotland, where versions of the Celtic language persisted and, indeed, survive to this day.

As an aside, ancient Cornish, the language of my ancestors, is very similar to ancient Breton, a language which still has a few modern speakers living mostly in Brittany, a region of France.

Both Cornish and Breton were quite widely spoken until around 1700, when English and French respectively became dominant.

Old English was very similar to Old Norse. My own surname (Overland) was essentially the same in pronunciation and meaning in both languages. It means ‘high ground’.

The name is perhaps most prominent in the counties of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire in England and around Telemark in Norway, suggesting its origins lie in these two parts of the world.

The next major change to English was initiated in 1066 after the invasion and subjugation of England by the Normans. They spoke a French dialect and regarded Old English as a rather crude and rustic language.

The new Norman aristocracy initially held themselves apart from their new English subjects by, amongst other things, speaking almost exclusively in French.

French was the official language of England for about 300 years  from 1066 till 1362

However, a combination of inter-marriage between Norman and English people and the necessity to be able to communicate with the majority English population led to the gradual adoption of Old English as at least a second language.

As French words began to appear, they had an impact on both Old English, and English terms also began to appear in what was quite rapidly becoming Anglo-French.

Over time, the Norman rulers of England began to identify themselves more as English than French. While French was still the language of the Royal Court, the emerging dialect we now call Middle English was well established as a means of communicating outside of the Court.

In the case of the church and related legal and education systems, Latin was still used, even though it was nominally a ‘dead’ language.

Many Latin terms are still used in the British legal system and in medicine, and no doubt Papua New Guinea’s lawyers, doctors and nurses are still taught this same terminology.

In this way a linguistic legacy of the Roman Empire, which came to an end 1,500 years ago, has found its way even into the most remote corners of the world.

Eventually and inevitably, the English Royal Court began to use English as its preferred language.

In 1362 the Statute of Pleading made English the official language of parliament and the legal system.

Henry IV (1367-1413) was the first English king whose first language was English and his son the first king to communicate almost exclusively in the language.

Robert Cawdry’s Table Alphabeticall of 1604 was the first attempt to list English words and their meanings

In this way English finally overcame the linguistic legacy of the Norman invasion although not without many French and Latin terms having found their way into the language.

The emergence of Modern English began in the late 15th century and is associated with what is called The Great Vowel Shift, whereby the way the language was pronounced changed radically over the 300 years from 1400 to 1700.

During this period virtually all vowels changed their pronunciation and a number of consonants, notably k and w, became silent.

This process explains why some combinations of vowels and letters came to be pronounced in several different ways.

Thus the letter combination ‘ough’ is pronounced differently in five different ways in the words thorough, bought, through, trough and rough.

Similarly, the vowel combination ‘ea’ is pronounced differently in break, beak and breakfast.

Oddly, and for no known reason, the hitherto silent ‘w’ in words like known and shown is making a comeback, with many people now pronouncing these words as ‘no-when’ and ‘sho-wen’. It is one of those linguistic mysteries for which English is infamous.

ECN Helton’s booklet was developed in New Guinea in 1942 to assist soldiers to understand Tok Pisin

No-one knows why the Great Vowel Shift took place but it clearly helped trigger the transition of Middle English into Early Modern English, in which William Shakespeare is regarded as the pre-eminent exponent.

Throughout this entire period, there were no rules of grammar and spelling for the use of English.

This resulted in the emergence of peculiar spelling and pronunciation, so much so that the English spoken in York was almost incomprehensible to someone in Cornwall 600 km away.

Indeed, the regional accents of that period persist until today. The very distinctive accent of someone from, say, Glasgow or Newcastle can be very difficult for other English speakers to understand.

The first effort to formalise the rules of English was made by Robert Cawdrey who, in 1604, published his ‘Table Alphabeticall’ in which he listed 3,000 English words and their meanings.

It is generally agreed, however, that it was the dictionary produced by Samuel Johnson in 1775 that was the first really comprehensive and systematic effort to formalise the spelling, pronunciation and meaning of Modern English words.

Later, in 1857, the great work that became known as the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was begun.

This took far longer to compile than was originally foreseen because English turned out to be a vastly larger and more complex language than almost anyone had imagined.

In fact, the first definitive version of the OED was not published until 1928 and the 3rd revision has been under way since 2000 and is expected to be completed by 2034.

This brief history of the English language is relevant to Tok Pisin because it seems to be following a somewhat similar developmental path.

JJ Murphy’s Book of Pidgin English was published in 1943 and guided many of us expatriate officers for the next 30 years

In a similar way to the Romans and Normans, the colonial rulers of pre-independence PNG and other Pacific nations, who brought with them their own languages, found that to communicate effectively with the indigenous people it was necessary to invent a pidgin language that was simple to learn but which enabled conversation on practical matters.

In PNG, initially at least, what is now Tok Pisin was very much an artefact of colonial power.

Initially it was based on German because the Germans had colonised New Guinea and later transitioning to become more Anglicised as Australians spoke their own dialect of English.

It has been calculated by the Leibniz Institute for the German Language that Tok Pisin is now derived 75% from English, 11% Kuanua (Tolai), 6% other New Guinean languages, 4% German, 3% Latin and 1% Malay.

Tok Pisin also stripped down the more complex grammar of its contributing languages and rapidly took on a life of its own.

So far as I know, the first attempt to produce a dictionary of Tok Pisin grammar and vocabulary was made by Captain John Joseph Murphy, who published his ‘The Book of Melanesian Pidgin English’ in 1943, apparently for use as a resource by both military and civilian officials in PNG during World War II.

As did most of my colleagues at the time, I used Murphy’s dictionary as a primary reference when I first went to PNG in 1969.

Murphy’s Tok Pisin vocabulary consisted of around 1,300 words. This is not a lot of words for a language but was sufficient for most conversational purposes.

Francis Mihalic’s dictionary and grammar was a worthy successor to Murphy’s earlier work

No-one was trying to discuss or express difficult concepts in Tok Pisin, which was not regarded as a language capable of subtlety of expression.

Of course, since Murphy published his book Tok Pisin has evolved into a genuine Creole and is the first language of a large number of Papua New Guineans.

It is full of new words and expressions, many of which defy ready translation into English because, unless the cultural context is understood, a literal translation can be highly misleading.

A good example of this is the expression ‘baim meri’ or ‘peim meri’ which literally translates as to buy or pay a woman.

As Baka Bina and others have rightly pointed out, this Tok Pisin expression relates to the payment of bride price not to an act of prostitution.

To the best of my knowledge there is no recognised equivalent for the OED that relates to Tok Pisin.

It is probably time for the PNG government to commission the creation of an OED equivalent as an official reference for both Papua New Guineans and those who wish to learn Tok Pisin.

The translation of Tok Pidgin into English or other languages will remain somewhat problematic until such a resource is available.

Translation will continue to rely heavily upon the translator’s understanding of the cultural context, and that understanding may or may not be comprehensive.

Tok Pisin, like English before it, is in a process of rapid transition from a relatively simple language incapable of expressing complex or subtle ideas into a language that, of necessity, has to be capable of doing so.

Volker’s dictionary is still the best available but in need of a comprehensive update as Tok Pisin continues to mature as a fully-fledged language

The history of English suggests this process will take many years and require a great deal of intellectual flexibility.

I feel sure that Tok Pisin is perfectly capable of making this transition because its native speakers are just as intelligent, inventive and adaptable as were those who created modern English.

I also believe that the development of Tok Pisin will be greatly facilitated if and when the PNG government begins to take more seriously their country’s own special and wonderful language.

This means, of course, also taking PNG Indigenous literature seriously.

_________

Papua New Guinea Tok Pisin Resources

The Book of Pidgin English, JJ Murphy, Department of District Services and Native Affairs, Port Moresby, 1943, 126 pages. Available from Abe Books (used) https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/book-pidgin-english/author/murphy-john/ Recommended for historic value

The Jacaranda Dictionary and Grammar of Melanesian Pidgin, Rev F Mihalic SVD, Jacaranda Press, Brisbane, 1971, 375 pages. Available from Blacks Fine Books (used) https://blacksbooks.ca/product/the-jacaranda-dictionary-and-grammar-of-melanesian-pidgin/ Recommended for educational value

Tok Pisin, R Litteral & RJ Franklin, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Ukarumpa, 1990, 181 pages. Listed on Amazon (out of print) https://www.amazon.com/Introductory-Programmed-Course-Tok-Pisin/dp/9980005475

Tokpisin, English, Bahasa Indonesia: Trilingual Dictionary, D Thomas, TR Andi Lolo & N Jakarimilena, Masalai Press, Oakland, 1997, 209 pages. Available from Abe Books (used) https://www.abebooks.com/Tokpisin-English-Bahasa-Indonesia-Trilingual-dictionary/16399628274/bd

Neo-Melanesian-English Concise Dictionary, Friedrich Steinbauer, Hippocrene Books, New York, 1998, 124 pages. Available from Amazon (used) https://www.amazon.com/Neo-Melanesian-English-Concise-Dictionary-Pidgin-English-Hippocrene/dp/0781806569

Bosavi-English-Tok Pisin Dictionary, BB Schieffelin & S Feld, Australian National University, Canberra, 1998, 209 pages. Available from Amazon (used) https://www.amazon.com/Bosavi-English-Tok-Pisin-Dictionary-Guinea-Bosabi/dp/B001E08X8G

Tok Pisin English Dictionary, CA Volker et al, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 2008, 400 pages. Available from Booktopia (new) https://www.booktopia.com.au/png-tok-pisin-english-dictionary-c-a-volker/book/9780195551129.html   Highly recommended

Tok Pisin English Dictionary, Author Unknown, Online Only, c 2016 https://www.tokpisin.info/about-this-site   Recommended

Narokobi: The man who knew what might have been

Bernard Narokobi when Attorney-General in 1991. A political and jurisprudential philosopher of great seriousness and stature (Pacific Islands Monthly)

By JEAN ZORN – PNG Attitude Blog

NEW YORK – Bernard Narokobi, who died in March 2010 at the age of 72 after a short illness, was a political and jurisprudential philosopher of great seriousness and stature. That makes my memories of his irrepressible irreverence especially sweet.

One such memory: Bernard taking his afternoon nap on the wall to wall carpeting of the Law Reform Commission’s way too elegant offices.

The Commission was Bernard’s brainchild, established at independence by Papua New Guinea’s Constitution – a document full of Bernard’s views and ideas – to try to infuse the legal system of the new nation with Melanesian custom.

Bernard, fittingly, was the Commission’s first Secretary, and he hired me, amongst more experienced others, like Nick O’Neill and Yash Ghai, to help him do it.

The new government was scrambling for offices; Waigani was still less than half built, so we found ourselves in a spanking new building that had been intended to house a bank (of all the non-Melanesian institutions!) with floor-to-ceiling tinted windows, air conditioning that bordered on the frigid, and pile carpet so deep you could, as Bernard contentedly demonstrated every afternoon, sleep on it.

Bernard was born in 1937 in Wautogik Village in the East Sepik. Naming his village – making sure this memorial to him includes the name – would have been important to him. Because Bernard never forgot, never abandoned, never strayed far, from the values and culture and world view of his village.

And, yet, he was also among Papua New Guinea’s most modern of men. He was educated – in Catholic mission schools – long before most Papua New Guinean children got any schooling at all, well before, I believe, the Australian colonial power had constructed a single school in the territory.

In the 1960s, when few Papua New Guineans had been outside their home villages, let alone outside Papua New Guinea, he was in Australia, doing a law degree at the University of Sydney.

Within four or five years after Bernard got his degree, the University of Papua New Guinea would be built, opening higher education to hundreds every year.

But, at the moment Bernard did it, there can’t have been more than half a dozen Papua New Guineans who had graduated from university. Mekere Morauta, Charles Lepani, Bernard, a handful of others.

They had such different personalities, temperaments, interests, but they shared a vision of an independent Papua New Guinea, and the leadership that each took in that struggle suggested that, in denying education to so many for so long, the colonizers had made a wisely self-interested choice.

I first met Bernard in the early 1970s, just before independence. It was a heady time.

Papua New Guinea was charging towards nationhood, and every great future seemed possible. We’d come from all over – from Tanzania, Northern Ireland, England, the US, even a few from Oz, and, of course, from PNG itself. 

Most of us were working at UPNG, but there were also advisors and worker bees from all across the government, not to mention from the various research units and NGOs.

There were meetings every moment – it felt as if there was so much work to do – especially, so many conversations to have – about principles and policies and philosophy and goals and history. And then there were those grand day-long parties every Sunday at the Zaharas.

In all the conversations, all the explorations, Bernard’s voice was sure and direct. He knew, from the start, the path that Papua New Guinea should follow.

The polity, the economy, the culture, and especially the laws of the new nation should be based, he told us, on custom – but on a peaceful, communitarian, Gandhi-Nyerere-King brand of custom that, he insisted, was the true Sepik Melanesian Way. 

It made of his life a paradox. He believed that each person should live a simple village life, but, to make that possible for others, for his new nation, he had to spend most of his time living in the city, dealing in complexity.

Even in the city, though, he could make the village paramount. Padding happily around his carpeted office in laplap and bare feet was only one of the ways.

Today, people probably think that for him, the decision to live the Melanesian Way was an easy choice. Trust me, it wasn’t. 

There were enormously strong pulls on him to go in other directions – and I’m not talking about the pulls of money or status or stuff like that – totally uninteresting to Bernard – I’m talking about personal pulls and pressures – glimpses of other, possible, wonderful, fulfilling, rich, happy lives, that he chose not to take, but the renunciation was not without sadness and a sense of loss.

I will remember his smile, which was as outwardly mild and as inwardly complicated as he was.

When the Constitution was promulgated, we were able, for a few brief shining moments, to believe that we’d made Bernard’s vision a reality, that we’d won, that Papua New Guinea was firmly set on a path that would give its own custom the central place in the polity.

After almost 100 years of colonialism, Papua New Guinea would become not only free, but, once again, itself. And that self would be a shining, beneficent, kindly star to the rest of the world.

Bernard had been more than just a member of the Constitutional Planning Committee; his influence can be seen throughout, most dramatically in every word of the Preamble to the Constitution:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA—
united in one nation
pay homage to the memory of our ancestors—the source of our strength and origin of our combined heritage
acknowledge the worthy customs and traditional wisdoms of our people—which have come down to us from generation to generation
pledge ourselves to guard and pass on to those who come after us our noble traditions and the Christian principles that are ours now.
By authority of our inherent right as ancient, free and independent peoples….

The courts set about almost immediately to undermine whatever in the Constitution wasn’t exactly like the laws of Australia, demonstrating in the process that they had a far less sanguine view of custom than Bernard did.

For example, Bernard often talked about the ‘worthy custom’ of his people; for him, all the traditions, beliefs, values that made up the Melanesian Way were worthy, and he wanted to emphasise that, to make people see and acknowledge that.

The members of the Supreme Court, however, chose to read the phrase differently; they read the Preamble to mean that they needed to acknowledge only those customs that happened, in their estimation, to be worthy, and, believing as they did that most of Papua New Guinean custom was savage, undisciplined, unreasonable, lawless and in need of a good old colonial makeover, they were happy to acknowledge very few of them indeed.

Bernard’s response was to redouble his (which also meant our) efforts at the Law Reform Commission.

Under his benign tutelage, we worked hard to change every aspect of the imported colonial legal system so that custom would be the heart and soul of Papua New Guinean law.

I’ve always thought his real legacy is all those Law Reform Commission Reports and bits of draft legislation – outlining such a better legal future than PNG got to have. So few of those bills were even enacted, and even fewer have actually been enforced.

His crowning achievement – the bill that would have made it clear that judges should turn to custom, before using the common law or any other imported bits of foreign legal systems – languished in Parliament until 2000, when Bernard, as Speaker, finally got it through – only to see the judges all but totally ignore it in the following decade.

Bernard ought to have spent his working life as a judge. It would have given him the opportunity he needed to thoroughly blend custom into the legal system.

He got his chance in the early 1980s when he was made an Acting Judge, and he went at it with gusto, writing decisions that were glorious.

They were stunning in the depth and breadth of their erudition; he probably knew more about, and better understood the Anglo-Australian jurisprudential tradition than anyone else – with the possible exception of Mari Kapi – on the Papua New Guinea bench at the time (and most of them were Australians).

At the same time, his decisions were illuminated by his love for the people whose cases he was deciding: witch or warrior, criminal or victim, his compassion for all of them informed every choice he made, resulting not just in decisions that were extraordinary in their fairness and equity, but also in containing lovely patches of utterly beautiful descriptive prose.

Most importantly for his larger aims, though, he modelled in his decisions how a judge can understand Melanesian custom as a living part of the legal system, and how the court can weave it into a new, homegrown Papua New Guinean common law.

I believe that Bernard knew that his decisions were likely to be appealed, and so, in each one, he tried to speak to his fellow judges, to educate them about custom from the inside. He wrote about custom as if it were dream and magic which, as he tried to explain to his fellow judges, it was.

He aimed to be helpful, but the other judges reacted as if he’d handed them a cupful of scorpions. Just about every decision he wrote was overturned, and never mildly.

In their appellate rejoinders, the other judges didn’t just disagree with him, they mocked his reliance on custom, expressed horror at his introduction of customary concepts, such as compensation, into their legal system, and tried in every way they could to ensure that Bernard’s way, the Melanesian Way, would never find a home in Papua New Guinea’s underlying law, that no other young hopeful Acting Judge would have the temerity to try it.

Today, Bernard’s brief tenure as a judge is all but forgotten.

I expect, though, that future generations will come upon his decisions, and will be charmed, and emboldened, and educated by them; I hope, fervently, that, as with many great works unsung at the time, they will eventually be widely read, lauded, copied, that what he said about the law, and how he said it, will someday become the cornerstone of a new and glorious era in Papua New Guinean jurisprudence.

It is possible to see Bernard’s life as a failure, because, in what he most wanted to do, which was to make Papua New Guinea truly itself, truly noble, and truly free of outside influences, he was rebuffed at every turn.

He tried doing it as a legal reformer, a lawyer and a judge – and that failed.

He turned to politics – where he was granted much personal success – he served as a Minister in three different governments, under three different Prime Ministers (one of whom fired him, because he refused to go along with that government’s self-aggrandising policies).

Bernard Narokobi, when High Commissioner to New Zealand, with US internet pioneer Dr Vincent Cerf, c 2009

When his party was not in the coalition, he was Leader of the Opposition; when, I believe, it again was in government, he became Speaker of Parliament; at his death, he was serving as High Commissioner to New Zealand.

But, still, he failed in his main endeavour, which was to create a polity marked by integrity, honesty and nobility. He believed this would happen if only Papua New Guinea would be true to itself, to its history, to its customs, both old and new; he could not make this happen.

To Bernard, Melanesian custom spoke to the best in his people.

All he wanted was to make this the hallmark of the independent state he’d helped to create – such a simple wish, and everything – or, more precisely, everyone in power – the judges, the members of Parliament, the foreign investors and their Papua New Guinean compradors – conspired to make it impossible.

A lesser person would have despaired. Or, at least, been angry. As far as I know, Bernard never lost his sense of humour, his impish wit, his willingness to take his afternoon nap on any available carpet, no matter how plush.

He never lost his humility, his kindness, his essential optimism. Nor did he ever stop helping others.

Even in his later days, despite his august accomplishments, his by then almost legendary status as one of the greatest, and truest, of the founding fathers, he was always available, especially to the young.

In an email to me, responding to an earlier, more informal version of this memorial, a younger anthropologist, Ira Bashkow, described this part of Bernard’s life better than I can:

[My wife] Lise’s fieldwork was in his home village, and he was tremendously kind to us. It is completely true of him that he was immensely generous and himself lived humbly. He had a rare kind of integrity, thoughtfulness, and brilliance.

I feel like it was one of the privileges of my life to have known him.… Though we came to know him as an old man, and you since his youth, you describe the man we know exactly — humble, wise, principled.

His death marks a significant generational transition in the history of Papua New Guinea. As we say of Moses, another leader like him will not again arise.

I have said that, from some narrow perspectives, Bernard’s life could be viewed as a failure. But it will not be – and ought not to be. Because he was not just a lawyer and judge, not just a politician, he was, most deeply and through all of his life, a writer and philosopher.

It is through his writings that he will live. His words will, I believe, do more than endure; they will inspire. So it is fitting we end with them. These are from his seminal work, The Melanesian Way:

Our history did not begin with contact with the Western explorers.
Our civilisation did not start with the coming of the Christian missionaries.
Because we have an ancient civilisation, it is important for us to give
proper dignity and place to our history. We can only be ourselves if we
accept who we are rather than denying our autonomy.

Our history did not have the binding effect of the written word. It did
not have the wheel to travel distances, and it did it did not have the naked
power of the barrel of the gun. Accordingly, our influence was limited.
Still, it was a lasting human experience.
But today, we have the gift of the written word and the privilege of the
wheel. We can reflect on our ancient past and the modern life. We can
have a responsibility to ourselves and to the world
to bring to the world the treasures of our civilization.….

Cut off from the rest of the world for many centuries, Melanesians
nevertheless survived as a people. Now that we are finally connected
with the world, we suddenly see ourselves through the world mirror.
Will we see our own true size images, or will we see ourselves in the
images and the shadows of others?

Will we see ourselves in the long shadows of the dwindling light and
the advanced darkness of the evening dusk, or will we see ourselves in
the long and radiant rays of the rising sun? We can choose, if we will.

I see a new vision and a new hope for Melanesians. I see ourselves
holding fast to the worthy customs of our people. I see Melanesians
accepting principles of Christianity. I see Melanesians as a people who
have patience and time for every person. I see Melanesians giving their
highest regard to the spirituality of human dignity and a proper but
insignificant role to the building up of status through materialism.

Bernard Narokobi’s body is carried into Wirui Cathedral,  Wewak,  4 April 2010 (Cyril Gare)

This tribute to Bernard Narokobi – written just after his death – was first published in The Journal of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies in April 2010. 

Professor Jean Zorn’s first job after graduating from law school was as a member of the University of Papua New Guinea Law Faculty on the eve of PNG independence. Prof Zorn has had a long association with the City University of New York where she remains as a professor emeritus teaching property law and Native American law

Vomit flavoured ice cream

In loving memory of Green Eggs & Ham by Dr Suess

Photo: Lowy Institute

MICHAEL DOM

I do not like vomit flavoured ice cream
Vomit flavor is not in my dreams
And if I were to taste it I think I would scream
Please don’t count me on your vomit-flavour team

Many other people dislike it too
But I’m sure there’s someone and maybe it’s you
Who likes vomit flavoured ice cream
And maybe you dream and scream for it too

Some people chew buai and swallow the juice
Others spit the stuff out and that looks quite gross
Some people think buai tastes like vomit – their choice
Because I love the taste and always rejoice

But then again, I don’t like nuts in ice cream
I think putting nuts in ice cream is really mean
Though my bestie loves that stuff and is always keen
To eat nuts in ice cream until she turns green

She dislikes me gargling buai all day
I chew my buai and swallow the juice
But serve vomit flavoured ice cream and I’ll puke right away
Sometimes we can’t help what we like or choose

The god of truth is dead so speak your own

Michael Dom

The truth does not belong to you, my dear,
It lives and breathes inside us all. And what
You say is yours to speak, for which you dare
Force us to share, when a fraction of it
Does not compute the sum of nor compare
To the fullness of life, where each remits
The pain of being. If truth exists, we bear
The weight, we each, so if each one is fit
Be wary of your words, your vice declares
Itself in the nature of being. Know that.

But say the wise, just speak your truth, no fear,
We shall force the mathematics to fit.
God is dead. Truth is whatever you care,
The truth we speak need not care about that.

 

 

Lae, March 15, 2021