Hard working men & village folk yet to eat

By Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude, 20 February 2021

Introductory glossary: (1) Hard working men = those who claim to lead the MPs campaign; (2) Village folk yet to eat = those who may receive cash from the MP; (3) Men who are eating = those who do receive cash from the MP

PORT MORESBY – I occasionally travel to my tribal land for feasts and holidays to mingle with our village folk and talk to all and sundry.

After the 2017 general election I went home and the self-proclaimed hard working men bragged about their daring roles during that election that enabled our tribesman to win, which he did.

The hard working men are convinced that, with a tribesman now a member of parliament, they and the village folk will have bulging stacks of cash zipped shut in their bilums through courtesy of the district’s money vault.

Others believe the village folk will eat unrestrainedly until some die of farting diarrhoea, whilst others will get sick with noses badly clogged from the smell of cash fresh from the factory.

“Wait and you will see these things come to fruition,” they told me.

Four years on, I went home again and the excitement had diminished and the smiles were weak.

And they walked submissively in their rags, looking as if they had lost their appetite or had barely survived through a long drought.

But still they talked. This time, the most aesthetic music to their ears was the gossip about who was eating and who was not from the local MP.

The money economy has never served the village folks well.

But still they crave for any cash that may come their way and are eager to do dirty jobs for a pittance.

However, we are all human and, when life’s trials throw a challenge, the people will invent a strategy to counter it.

We know that because we have observed the long journey from huts to skyscrapers.

Politics is about making decisions about how to distribute scarce resources in the midst of unlimited needs.

But village folk have a way to indulge on the spoils of victory without using lobby groups, street protests or rational argument.

They campaign and vote; they con politicians and in turn are conned; they give and eat, or are yet to eat.

This has happened election upon election and they are now experts on local politics.

The village folk too believe they can play mind games and craft the politicians and the wannabes to succumb to their game plan.

Anyhow, be that true or not, their dreams to sleep on a bed of cash straight out of the cash factory drive some men to leave home and go sleep under the MP’s house.

From there they bask, chitchatting around, clogging up the MP’s rest room, shower space and inflating electricity bills playing card games until dawn or dusk depending on when they started.

There is no degree of guilt or shame. This is their politics.

These men adorn themselves with titles like HWM (hard working men) and frisk and then dictate to every visitor at the MP’s gate.

Some wives, like their indecorous husbands, announce that every evening they have carted steaming hot copper dishes of food (carried on to their heads) for the campaign house.

But to date, of course, are yet to eat anything provided by the MP.

The womenfolk sell betel nut and smokes to the mob of constituents who inundate the MP’s gate every day.

They then give betel nut and smokes to the constituents as a gesture of goodwill.

Then they charge the MP a high price on an inflated invoice and, when the bill has been paid from the MP’s pocket, they will dash to the open air market and feast on fried lamb flaps and scones, and brag about their scam.

Sadly, these folks have no iota of respect for the MP’s wife and children nor their privacy.

If the wife wants to apply rules for everyone to observe in the MP’s house the hard working men will scold her.

They say their hard work alone landed her husband his job and they need special respect from her.

At dawn, the hard working men go into town and forcefully tell people to come to the MP for help and they bring them to the house.

If the MP sees those constituents and helps, the person who scouts them and brought them will later get his rendezvous fees from the visitor.

One such hard working man left behind his wife and children in some unplanned ghetto to fend for themselves and flew to live with the MP.

He joined his father, who was already at the MP’s house and had spent a couple of years crouching underneath there in hope of becoming a man who is eating.

A couple of years passed and the younger man sent a text message to the MP directing that the MP buy some bags of rice, tinned food and deliver them to the wife and children he left behind.

He also threatened to chop the MP if he flew up to his electorate without doing that.

Another lazy bugger said he had given the MP the spear or kulak kokia, the baton of authority handed down from a chief to the next of kin (before the chief disappeared into the sunset).

He also said he had given the MP a gentleman’s suit and a cowboy hat during his candidacy and those were the powers that actually swept the MP to victory.

At this juncture, he thought the MP owed him a great deal of reciprocity and so he wanted crates of beer every time the MP appeared back home for electoral duties.

Though the man has not an iota of blessing or authority, the cooked up story to get closer to the MP did serve him well, and he has gargled a few good beers so far.

The hard working men have no inch of care about schools, roads, hospitals and peace.

They just demand cash handouts in return for their toil during campaign periods. They are willing to turn into howling dogs just to get something to eat.

They know the MP has a whole district to feed and will have nothing for them unless they bother him.

If the MP runs out of patience and punches one of the hard working men and inflicts a bloody nose or brow, the victim’s family will applaud the victim, mummify his head and carry him on a stretcher to the MP to seek cash compensation.

There is a craving for upper cuts on the chin primarily for cash compensation.

Behavioural scientists allude that dogs are not only the best friends of humans, but that humans and dogs share a genetic makeup.

This is said to explain why dogs act like humans and humans act like dogs.

Our locality already has a growing segment of dog-like humans scavenging for anything that they can lay their snouts on.

To sum up, these folk cook up their own governance theories on how MPs and bureaucrats should run a district.

Their theories are mostly influenced by the famous money rain and cargo cult movements.

A poor education system produces this mob of uncritical thinkers and bad analysts and leads to herd mentality followers, as I have expounded.

All this said, I feel for the current MP, and all the other MPs who will come into the office in future.

The education system and the churches have a duty to educate the masses on what are the real roles and responsibilities of the MP.

Unless the hard working men and the village folk demand good policies and sustainable development, the MPs will continue to contribute to funerals, grog and give cash to zip the howling snouts.

Just to evade the dog-like characteristics of the hard working men and the village folk yet to eat.

This article was first published on PNG Attitude blog on 20 February 2021


Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

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