The Papua New Guinea Government Should Purchase Books Written by Papua New Guinean Authors


A Long Listed essay

By Vilousa Hahembe

Literature is a method of recording, preserving, and transmitting knowledge and entertainment. It most likely is the earliest form of history in Papua New Guinea. The diverse ethnic groups throughout the country have their own stories, legends and myths, songs, drama, drawings, paintings and artefacts. These are pure native literature that has been passed on from one generation to the next until this time and era. They have been recorded and preserved by the elders and transmitted verbally and visually to the youth, with the aim to teach them life lessons, moral code and ethics, heritage and strength.

The influence of western culture and their invention of paper has allowed for these preserved history to be translated, written down and vastly shared. Papua New Guinean authors have emerged and transformed through creativity of literature and have published great work.

However, these authors have not been given enough recognition by the government of Papua New Guinea, due to the fact that they are competing with the work of more advanced authors of the western world. Hence, the question stands ‘should the government purchase Papua New Guinean authored books?’ most people might think otherwise. This paper intends to elaborate as to why the government should purchase Papua New Guinean authored books.

Firstly, Papua New Guinean authored books will have a positive impact on Papua New Guineans to read and write literature more proficiently. The skill of reading and writing literature is something that is still difficult to grasp for many Papua New Guineans. For them to know that the books they read are written by Papua New Guinean authors, will give them motivation and determination to learn how to read and write, so as to one day write a book of their own. Some of these Papua New Guinean authored books are written in tok pisin (pidgin) and have simple English translation.

As English is a foreign language, many Papua New Guineans find it convenient with the use of the pidgin language to help them understand better. Understanding to read and write will help them in the long run excessively. They will be able to write stories, articles and essays which will eventually enable them to read English written books and understand them profoundly. They can also write books themselves and further inspire their peers to read and write as well. For this reason, the Papua New Guinea government should purchase Papua New Guinean authored books.

In addition, Papua New Guinean authored books promote cultural heritage. The authors capture the customs and cultures of the various Papua New Guinean native habitants in their work. Their different practices and beliefs are shared with the readers in the content, along with Papua New Guinean history. For example, the book written by Ignatius Kilage titled ‘My Mother Calls Me Yaltep’, is the story of how a highlander from the Chimbu province was recruited by the so called ‘White Men’ to work in their plantations at Rabaul, East New Britain Province, during the colonial period. The book describes the sacred traditional practices of the chimbu people such as; courtship, marriage and bride price ceremonies. It defined the value of respect, strong family ties, love and unity of people. It also showed as the Papua New Guineans say “Pasin Wantok” between the highlanders and the coastal natives.

With the influence of the western world rapidly percolating into the fabric of society, it is vital that the youths of this generation be reminded of their cultural identity. Associating with such books will teach them morals, virtues and their traditional values. Therefore, it is only fitting that the Papua New Guinea government purchase Papua New Guinean authored books.

Furthermore, integrity is upheld and originality is promoted through Papua New Guinean authored books. Copyright violation is an issue within the creative industry. Originality of the work of the Papua New Guinean authors must be protected and security ensured. When the books go unrecognized, it is easy for these authors work to be copied and claimed by the other writers who aren’t Papua New Guineans.

Schools throughout the country do not have many Papua New Guinean authored books in their libraries and as a result causes a disadvantage for their students to have access to prodigious Papua New Guinean history. Papua New Guinean author Daniel Kumbon stated in his article,

“I belong to a group of emerging PNG authors, essayists, poets and social commentators who have steadily published books in the last few years due mainly to the Crocodile Prize annual literary competition. But not many people including students ever get to read any of these published works. The education department has made no effort to ensure schools in our country have PNG authored books on the shelves of their libraries, which would ensure suitable titles for students to read.( PNG Attitude, 2019).

The Papua New Guinea government recognizing the work of these authors will ensure credibility and promote their literature to be featured in school libraries and public libraries throughout the country. And so, the Papua New Guinea government should purchase Papua New Guinean authored books.

Moreover, social awareness is provided through the published literature of Papua New Guinean authors. Papua New Guinea is a country with a diverse economy but yet, it is still struggling to reduce certain social issues in its societies.

For example, domestic violence, sorcery killings, sexual abuse etc. Families try to protect their sons and daughters from the harshness of reality but at some point, they will soon venture into the world on their own, and they need to be made aware of such dangers that lurk around. Some Papua New Guinean authored literature is purposely constructed to spread awareness to the readers about the social issues in Papua New Guinea.

Thanks to technology, authors have also created blogs and websites and have published their work online. With majority of the population having access to digital gadgets, the availability of such information will be made aware to them. The truth is not to frighten but allow the readers to think critically and feel inspired to help victims of these issues. Also they will learn how to steer clear from such situations and know where to seek help. As these social issues are rapidly occurring, it is crucial for the people to be made aware and stay informed through the help of information gained from the published works of these Papua New Guinean authors. Therefore, the Papua New Guinean government should purchase Papua New Guinean authored books.

In conclusion, the literature of Papua New Guinea is very valuable. It contains knowledge and the history of Papua New Guinea. Most Papua New Guinean authors are great writers that are not given enough credit and recognition of the books that they write by the government.

 The purchasing of these authors works by the government will give them credibility and promote these books to be shelved in libraries at homes, schools and public libraries. In this way it will encourage people to read and write as they know more about these books and have access to them.

Young Papua New Guineans will learn the tales of their ancestral bloodlines and they will be reminded of their cultural identity. The people will be aware of social issues and best protect themselves and their families. Also, with the recognition gained from the government the originality of the authors work will be protected and the integrity of Papua New Guinea will be kept true. Therefore, given the supporting reasons, the government of Papua New Guinea will do best to purchase Papua New Guinean authored books.

About the essayist

Vilousa Hahembe is 20 years old and comes from East Sepik Province. She graduated from Marianville Secondary School in 2019 and is currently enrolled at the University of Papua New Guinea, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics at the school of Business and Public Policy. This is her second year of studies and she aspires to become a committed and dedicated Papua New Guinean female economist in the future and be able to help her country grow.

She has read a number of literatures published by Papua New Guinean authors over the years as they were part of English curriculum in school. Also as part of assessment in class and they were required to act out stories from the books that they read. Vilousa says that, “English class was always fun and I believe that’s what made reading books and writing essays a hobby of mine”.

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.

3 thoughts on “The Papua New Guinea Government Should Purchase Books Written by Papua New Guinean Authors

  1. I think that is a good idea because when the government do that it will encourage other Papua new Guineans out there to write more books not because of the payment but because someone will appreciate or recognize their intelligence and creativity.

    Liked by 1 person

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