ENTRY IN THE TINGTING BILONG MI 2020 ESSAY COMPETITION
A Long Listed essay
By Sherbuel Sanduhu
Do you think that the Papua New Guinean government would invest more money in purchasing books written by indigenous Papua New Guinean authors if it led to the improvement and awareness of the importance of literature among both young and old Papua New Guineans? Papua New Guinean authors have been disseminating quality literature materials in the form of short stories, poetry, novels and other genres of literature for quite a while now. There are two main reasons as to why the government should buy Papua New Guinean authored books and they are; the books written by Papua New Guinean authors are generally about experiences that can be related to and understood by the majority of local readers and the cost and logistics of purchasing books from foreign authors and their publishers drastically outweighs the cost incurred when purchasing locally. Therefore, the Papua New Guinean Government should invest more resources and money to buy Papua New Guinean authored books.
One main reason is that Papua New Guinean authors write relatable content. Firstly, most Papua New Guinean authored books are autobiographies about their lives or biographies about someone they know that have emerged triumphantly and are living their lives successfully while making meaningful contributions to their local society after having gone through hardships and struggles, or some form of emotional distress that they have encountered during the early stages of their life growing up in Papua New Guinea. Now these stories are very inspirational to young Papua New Guineans also in a similar situation because it enables them to see and understand that they are not alone and that people before them have gone through problems with similar circumstances. Secondly, Papua New Guinean authors play a pivotal role in the preservation and perseverance of the local cultural aspect of life that is at the peripheries of oblivion by documenting ancestry traditional legends, myths and social practices of indigenous people that may have been lost otherwise during this time of change that is very rapid and frequent. Young Papua New Guineans now have at their disposal this surplus avenue to access abundant ancestral knowledge that has been accumulated over many years, one that is now conveniently made available to them in the form of literature.
It is clear that purchasing books domestically is inexpensive compared to purchasing internationally.Firstly, the Papua New Guinean kina is known to be weaker than the currencies of other countries from the realm of developed first world nations where the majority of literary materials are imported from. This has been the case for Papua New Guinea for quite a while now and taking into account the economic strain that is being felt by the country and all countries around the globe, there seems to be no improvement forecast in the near future as yet. The local government could be spending a huge amount of money, cash that is being taxed from hard working Papua New Guineans, only to buy fewer quantities of books due to the differences in exchange rates. It would be more pragmatic to use that same exact amount of money to buy books locally, except it would be more in terms of quantity. Secondly, buying books from international sources is one thing while transporting them is another major task in itself. The undeniable surging cost in the freight industry and the danger of receiving damaged books due to freight conditions or even worse, not receiving anything at all proves purchasing books overseas can be costly and ultimately maybe even jeopardizing. When considering all the cost and risk factors that are associated with the procurement and movement of international books from foreign authors to local readers, it can be stipulated down to purchasing locally which would be regarded as being more economically viable.
Some may claim that depriving Papua New Guinean readers from accessing overseas authored books limits them. Admittedly, there is some truth to this observation that due to the abundant availability of Papua New Guinean authored books made readily available by the government as opposed to internationally authored books would then enforce some lack of intellectual awareness and understanding of international literature among local readers. Having said this, however, it should be noted that due to technological advancements, information can be accessed anywhere through numerous medians by anyone. In the current era there is virtually no limit to who can access what type of information and from where. So the statement that information can be limited if only one type is made available is subjected to fallacy because books from all over the world can be accessed by any Papua New Guinean with an internet connection through countless numbers of websites that offer literary materials whether paid or unpaid. Short stories, novels and poems among other genres of literature from international sources are all readily available on these websites. For instance, just typing “novels” in the search engine of the technological giant Google gives millions of results from a wide range of sources.
To conclude, demanding the government to purchase only Papua New Guinean authored books is not an attempt to hijack the literary arena or an attack against the diversification of literature, but is merely an option that the government should strongly consider in order to connect Papua New Guinean writers and readers through mutual experiences and background while saving money in the process. When the government adheres to this demand and introduces favorable conditions the Papua New Guinean literary sector will flourish under this new conducive atmosphere. Hence, more books will be published by Papua New Guinean authors. But if no action is being taken at all, it may be just a matter of time before fewer Papua New Guinean authored books are published due to Papua New Guinean writers lacking confidence in the local literary market. Ultimately, literature is a dynamic and creative experience that requires time and effort to master and Papua New Guinean authors should be prioritized by the government by being adequately supported and compensated. After all, usat bai halvim ol sapos mepla les? (who will help them if we don’t want to?)
Phillip Fitzpatrick, F.P. 13th January 2021. Keith Jackson & Friends. The special place of poetry in png. PNG Attitude. Retrieved from https://www.pngattitude.com/2021/01/the_special_place_of_poetry_in_png.html#more
Bwakia, B. [n.d]. Papua New Guinean Literature. Retried from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papua_New_Guinean_Literature
Alphones Bariasi, B.A. 5th July 2019. Author wants more png books written and read. The National. Retrieved from https://www.thenational.com.pg/author_wants_more_png_books_written_and_read/
Newton Cain, C.N, Rashmii Bell, B.R. 17th April 2018. Devpolicy Blog. On writing, PNG literature and the voice of the diaspora. Retrieved from https://devpolicy.org/on_writing_png_and_the_voice_of_the_diaspora_2018047/
About the essayist
My name is Sherbuel Sanduhu and I am from the Eastern and Southern highlands provinces. I was born on the 30th of September in the year 2000 at the Goroka Base Hospital. We moved to Port Moresby in 2004 where we settled and I started school. I’ve always wanted to change the situation of my people back home and I hope I to do that one day. Being busy with school work, I haven’t been reading a lot but I have read a couple of literary materials from PNG authors before. As a matter of fact, the first book I read and finished was a fiction book from a PNG author, although I can’t remember the name of the author nor the title of the book, it was about two siblings who could travel telepathically around the world simply by holding hands and closing their eyes at the same time.