ENTRY IN THE TINGTING BILONG MI 2020 ESSAY COMPETITION
A Long Listed essay
By Nathan Kilali
Papua New Guinea is a nation of diverse cultures and languages. Thus, countless are the legends and myths, stories, tales and different beliefs passed on and foretold by fearsome tribesmen. With the Westernization and the instant drift to modernization and technology, many of Papua New Guinea’s countrymen have been educated in all levels of education. Some are now PHD holders and Master degree holders. They have attained the highest form of qualification from Universities around the world. These national leaders and elites have authored, edited or co-authored a variety of books. Some have written about the cultural diversities in PNG while others have justified and reasoned the long-held beliefs in their writings. Even better, statesmen and founding fathers like Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare and Chief Sir Paulias Matane have written books about the PNG history and historical places like ‘Sana’ and ‘Trekking through Latin America’. Other professors and distinguished professionals have written textbooks and journals to be used by students in colleges and Universities, and by workers in their jobs. Despite this outward uprising in PNG Literature, there has been a downfall of the use of these books and its demise is fatal for Papua New Guinean citizens including students and workers in their education and jobs. This is primarily because PNG authored books have not been bought and aided by the PNG government for online publications and international sales. Ultimately, they have not been recommended so that they can be read favorably and used extensively by Papua New Guineans. Hence, the resulting downfall and its consequences. This essay explains and justifies why the government should buy PNG authored books to be read and used more significantly in PNG.
Promotes PNG Literature and Supports young authors
The amount of money a government spends on books is a good indicator of its commitment to providing a quality education for its citizens as reported by the United Nations Global Education Monitoring Organization. More importantly, is its commitment in buying books authored by its own local writers. This promotes national literacy and encourages its writers to write more. Also, it inspires other aspiring writers to get into the field of writers. How many of PNG authored books are on Amazon, Kindle or any of the other online book selling companies? How many are in Public libraries in other countries? Are there enough PNG authored books in university and college libraries like the Michael Somare Library in the University of Papua New Guinea? These questions, once answered, will reflect how much the government has spent in buying these books. More importantly, this will show the likelihood of those books being read by readers abroad and within the country, and how successful our local authors can be. Right now, the rate at which foreign books are being read by Papua New Guineans is higher when compared to PNG authored books. This issue was expressed by PNG author and poet, Caroline Evari on the National newspaper dated 5th July 2019. She was also of the view that when more PNG books are written, the greater the motivation there will be for young Papua New Guineans to read more. Consequently, this will greatly reduce the amount of time wasted on other platforms such as Facebook that has little to no benefit at all. More importantly, the benefits of reading will also be evident in these young ones’ education and day to day life.
The hidden wisdom in PNG authored books
As stated above, Papua New Guinea is a land of myths, legends and great tales. These were foretold by wise men and women that lived in the past. Hidden in these stories are words of wisdom and principles that guided our ancestors to live uprightly with the nature even before the arrival of westerners. Most of these tales allude to PNG’s diverse culture that is at the bream of extinction and custom that seems to be no longer remembered by the current young generation. Where is PNG’s indigenous jurisprudence? What is the future of PNG’s cultural heritage? The British have theirs preserved and followed as the Common law. Papua New Guinea has a Constitution that states that there is an Underlying law that is made up of the Customs of Papua New Guinea. However, these customs are not written in any books. If one has written them, it’s not sold or even published and is left alone to be unknown and forgotten. Given the fact that customs are practices, there are soon going to be forgotten. Unless they are written down, the Underlying law of Papua New Guinea and its indigenous jurisprudence will be a mere word, a fleeting shadow that will be soon be cashed out by the vast adoption of foreign laws and books. This is just one problem out of the many that are resulting from the lack of government intervention in buying and helping authors to publish books written about this beautiful country, Papua NEW Guinea, its cultural diversity, its riches in resources and its wisdom that guided our ancestors. Imagine how wise and knowledgeable the citizens and the upcoming generation of this young country will be if they read these kinds of books. Books are knowledge banks, and knowledge is power as stated by Lord Francis Bacon, the Former Lord Chancellor of England. Therefore, it will have a great influence and impact on the kind of laws, policies and decisions made in the country. This is helpful and satisfying as what is read is reflected in real PNG settings. Nevertheless, it will be a dawn of a great sadness if the government lets foreign books take the place of these PNG authored books. These foreign books will embark a different wisdom that has limited application and little relevance in PNG. The wisdom that is inspired in PNG authored books will continue to be hidden away, and eventually be lost.
Curiosity and Inquisition of young minds, stolen: A serious outlaw!
A teenager’s mind is forever inquisitive: they question everything they see, accumulate any information they hear, and this is probing as this prying nature is caused by the curiosity in their minds. While this fact is advantageous, it can be dangerous if wrong information and knowledge is inspired into their minds. A classic example is the rapid adherence to modern technology and the social media. Notice how many teenagers have phone laptops and other machines. Weigh the number of youths on Facebook: Numerous, isn’t it? This is as a result of their curiosity – they want to try it because others other doing it. Or they just want to see what it feels like, looks like or tastes like. This curiosity can be resentful if foreign materials are slyly flooding into their young minds leaving no space for PNG’s own crafts to be instilled. Conversely, if more of PNG books are put into school libraries and made available on the web, these young people, as curious as they are, would want to read these books and know what is in it. This will be helpful for the development of PNG Literacy. It will, as stated above, motivate them to read and their English proficiency will be greatly enhanced as well.
PNG authored textbooks project knowledge and information that can be reflected upon and replicated in real life.
While books from other countries are helpful and informative, they cannot always be used or workable in the practical reality that is in PNG. PNG is a developing country and its problems, issues and needs related to infrastructure, economy, and other aspects of the country are different to what is that of the foreign countries. Hence, trying to solve and find answers in books written by foreign authors may be difficult. However, this issue can be solved if Papua New Guineans look into PNG authored books. These books will offer knowledge and information that has a better reflection and clear replication in the PNG setting. This scenario was realized by Mrs. Kameso, a Grade 12 English Teacher in Sir Tei Abal Secondary School, in the following words, “When you read a book written by an author from PNG, you get this sense of belongingness and affinity, and what is written in that book can easily be real for you”. Students can reflect and improve on these writings as reality around them is written in these books. Politicians can write better policies from reading real danger and issues discussed in these PNG written books and the same can be for people of all professions and works. This will greatly help them to reflect better and replicate what they have read from these books into whatever situations they are in.
On the Contrary, some people are of the view that PNG authored books are vague and low in standard. They basically think this because they think Papua New Guinean authors don’t have the necessary skills and potential to write well and author good books. However, there are wrong because they undervalue and underestimate the knowledge and the wisdom that can be transpired through these books. These books have the potential to transform the minds and lifestyle of many Papua New Guineans. And yes! Papua New Guineans authors have the potential and skill sets to write award-winning books and best-selling books if they are given the exposure and incentive by the government.
From the above discussions, it can be concluded that PNG authored books have the necessary information, knowledge and wisdom that is beneficial for the growth and development of this country, and not just for the development of the PNG Literature. These books are needed by people in all levels of qualifications and profession. Hence, the government should buy PNG authored books as one of its greatest services to the citizens of this beautiful country.
About the essayist
My name is Nathan Kilali and I’m from Wabag, Enga Province. There are six of us in the family and I am the third-born son. My mother, Lena Kilali is a teacher at Wabag Primary School. She’s been teaching for over 30 years now. Her life is my inspiration.
Being a lawyer was my second choice but destiny has a beautiful way of paving everyone’s paths – Now, I am a third-year law student at UPNG. I want to be a litigation lawyer in the future and whatever that title may portray, I hope and believe it inspires the virtues of a servant in me, which is, to serve.
I like reading books, especially biographies and novels. Most of them are PNG authored like Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare’s ‘Sana’ and Sir Paulias Matane’s ‘My childhood in New Guinea’. All these books are a ‘blessing in disguise’ that tells great stories.