The purchasing of PNG authored books, by the government is a patriotic initiative fundamental to cultural preservation, national development and the growth of PNG’s economy

ENTRY IN THE TINGTING BILONG MI 2020 ESSAY COMPETITION

A Long Listed essay

By Latasha Akane

The current literacy rate in Papua New Guinea lies a little over 60%, approximately at 61.60% as off the year 2010[1]. The other percentage of 38.40 consists of an illiterate Papua New Guinean population. Out of this 61.60%, it can be estimated that about approximately 3% or less, of these literate Papua New Guineans are writers and have actually written and published either fictional books, or non-fiction books, textbooks, magazines, children story books or picture books and other literary works. In all truth, these illiteracy rates are significantly high, and blatantly indicate a nation that is indeed, starving from the lack of literature knowledge, which is a direct result of there being no strong educational foundation. In a third world developing nation as ours, literacy entwined with education is equally important in the progression of development. It is one of the national government’s sole responsibility as per National Goal and Directive Principle Number one: INTERGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT[2], to ensure that all forms of development does efficiently progress and does positively impact all citizens, and the advancement of education is one foundational tool of ensuring this aim is successfully achieved.

In every country, the government takes steps to help the economy achieve the goals of growth, full employment, and price stability[3]. One important foundation on which this aim can be achieved is on the foundation of education and literacy. The purchasing of books written and published by PNG authors by the PNG government, is one way in which the government can ensure literacy rates increases, and that there is progression of all forms of national development. The government’s actions in purchasing PNG authored books will also support, spur on and encourage the slow rise of aspiring Papua New Guinean authors. Therefore this essay seeks to highlight the many valid reasons as to why the Papua New Guinea Government should purchase PNG authored books. The ensuing paragraphs will provide, support and explain in detail, all these valid reasons.

There are a number of various, different reasons, entailing sustainable benefits, as to why the government should purchase PNG authored books.

Creative Cultural Preservation Strategy

The first one being, it can prove to be a creative method to preserve as well educate the young current Papua New Guinean generation and future generations, about our special cultural practices and traditions. Literature remains as an important medium to preserve cultural heritage[4]. Most PNG writers draw inspirations for the content of their published books from either PNG folklore, traditions, culture, or from their day to day experiences as a Papua New Guinean living under uniquely “PNG” styled circumstances. Other times, a PNG writer may publish a literary work that emits from a very original and cultured Papua New Guinean perspective or opinion. A suggested recommended strategy to preserve PNG culture and traditions, would be for PNG writers to continue to write more books about PNG’s diverse cultures in the form of folklore compilation/books, or children’s books or hardback books and the list goes on. The government can then subsidize funds for the purchasing of these originally “PNG made” books. These books should then be distributed to schools, private and public libraries, and other educational institutions/centers around the country, enabling the wider PNG population access to them. Once in the hands of any reader, the PNG authored books educate the reader about cultures not from just one particular province within PNG but from across all 22 provinces. This in turn ensures the safeguarding and preservation of some aspects of PNG’s spectacular cultures and traditions. And guarantees that our history will live long in the minds of readers.  An added advantage is that upon reading such book, readers become knowledgeable about our country’s ancient cultures, traditions, history and foundations.

PNG authored books are authentic and raw. PNG authors capture the “Real Papua New Guinea”

Foreigners who show a keen interest in our diversity can also indulge themselves in reading PNG authored books, especially the books written about our Melanesian Island nation and its unique traditions and customs. Having access to such PNG authored books and reading them, can consequently be defined as being privy to a totally raw Papua New Guinean opinion or perspective. Such books can serve as a cultural education tool to the global community at large. These books will also serve to inform the world about the daily PNG challenges and offer other information regarding PNG.

It is often argued that some foreigners spent their entire lives residing in PNG, therefore they can fully understand PNG’s setting and its challenges. Hence if they were to write about PNG, their books should also be widely accepted as credible. There is some truth to this statement however, it is to some length and in a given context. In the context of a tourist capturing PNG in all of its glory, whilst exploring the country, a tourist would no doubt be the most appropriate person to write books through the “tourists” lenses and creatively capture PNG through those same lenses. However, for instances where foreigners who may have become familiar with the nations cultures and challenges as a result of living most of their lives in PNG, if they intend to write books about PNG, the content of their work can still be prejudiced. It must be reiterated that,only a Papua New Guinean that can truly be capable to translate or depict and represent another Papua New Guinean’s perspective and portray our traditions through any form of literary work, especially through written books. For example, Morobean female author; Rashmii Bell, mentions in an interview with Tess Newton Cain that, where when she “…sees a gap in issues being dealt with, addressed by Papua New Guineans”, she tries to “…concentrate there to give the PNG voice to add to the whole dialogue there”[5]. This is an example of a Papua New Guinean being able to fully understand the issues within the nation, therefore she is mentally capable and equipped to hold dialogues (written or verbal) about ongoing issues and possibly bring more attention there in the hope of resolving those issues. This is therefore another valid reason why the PNG government should purchase PNG authored books, simply because only Papua New Guineans can write and capture the raw undiluted truth about PNG. Or in other words, only Papua New Guineans can deliver a completely sufficient and PNG-proven perspective and bring light to social concerns within our country through literary works.

Papua New Guinean writers find relevance within PNG authored books

It is also important to note that not only will the global community be privy to original PNG information and perspectives upon reading PNG authored books, but also, Papua New Guineans reading PNG authored books will find deeper meaning in such books. They will relate and find relevance in line after line. If the government continues to purchase books written about PNG by foreigners, they are in some way promoting “untrue or prejudiced” written versions or storylines of PNG. An outsider can only expect to hear the truth about a particular place if a person from that place told it. In order to educate PNG citizens about other countries in the world, the government should purchase books written by international writers. Likewise, the same principle should apply in Papua New Guinea as well. In order to educate PNG citizens about our nation’s diversity and promote the absolute truth about PNG, the PNG government should purchase PNG authored books only.

Promotes patriotism, and spurs a keen interest in Papua New Guinean readers to read about our nation, this in turn contributes to decreasing illiteracy rates within our nation

When the government purchases PNG authored books, it is an outstanding display of patriotism. Papua New Guineans will desire to read books written by PNG authors, especially if the book is about their villages or provinces. Therefore the government should purchase PNG authored books, as such books spark and ignite a desire to read among Papua New Guineans. This can also be effective in drawing many illiterate people’s attention towards learning how to read. The illiterate population of PNG will be fueled by their interest to comprehend what is written within a PNG authored book especially if the book is somehow connected to them in a personal way, that they will in some way seek out possible solutions or take the necessary steps towards learning how to read. Thus decreasing the illiteracy rates within our nation and increasing intellect capacity. When more Papua New Guineas learn how to read, there will be a shift in their mindsets. Along with that shift in mindsets, will come a decrease in many social issues within our urban areas.  

Supports local SMEs within PNG, and stimulates the country’s economy

The purchasing of PNG authored books by the PNG government is another strategic way of supporting local SMEs that are owned and managed by local PNG writers within our nation. For too long our government has sat idle and continued allowing the importing of goods from international countries, this includes the importing of books. This shouldn’t be the case as there is a slow steady rise of many aspiring PNG writers, who need developing through partnerships with the government. One of the main reasons why aspiring PNG writers usually give up on their dreams of being a successful writer within the country, is due to the fact that there is no market for it. If the government were to purchase PNG authored books, they would immediately be creating a market for the literary works of PNG writers. Their actions of purchasing PNG authored books would ignite a fire of commercialization within the literary works markets. This will in turn encourage local aspiring writers to rise up and start writing again.

Engaging in book sales and transactions with fellow PNG businesses and local authors instead of routinely trading with foreigners is a strategic economic and social move aligned under the current Prime Minister and his government’s famous political slogan; TAKE BACK PNG. When the market is created, it will henceforth develop over the years. Writers will start to participate in healthy competition amongst themselves and develop more content. At a larger scale this is beneficial for the economy. The continued development of the national market, can lead to an international expansion overseas. The PNG government can then utilize this market expansion opportunity to strategically provide exposure for our local PNG writers by engaging with international countries to export our books. Thus bringing back economic returns. Trade is central to ending global poverty[6]. One benefit from international trade: countries that are open to international trade tend to grow faster, innovate, improve productivity and provide higher income and more opportunities to their people[7]. These are important factors that our country greatly needs.

Our rich history and diverse cultures are a fascinating page-turning read for the Western modern world at large. Their curiosity about our beautiful island nation will have them ordering more of our original “PNG MADE’ books. Thus stimulating our economy.  This is also one equally important reason why the PNG government should purchase PNG authored books.

The purchasing of PNG authored books, creates a market for literary works. Thus creating job opportunities for unemployed writers

When the PNG government purchases PNG authored books, they, in some way, provide jobs for the unemployed aspiring or already established PNG authors. The purchasing of PNG authored books opens up countless job opportunities. If the market for literary works, and books becomes commercialized, by the government’s actions of purchasing PNG books than, many unemployed writers will quickly become employed. The quest to write more books to meet demands of readers will see many unemployed writers with jobs. Hence the government should purchase PNG authored books as it creates job opportunities and decreases unemployment rates within our country.  

It is in accordance with PNG’s National Goal and Directive Principles  

In achieving our NGDPs set out under the constitution, it’s important that we promote our nationality in the sense that we aren’t hiring international employees or giving contracts to international companies to write books, especially textbooks, but instead we are giving them to our people who are capable to do so. At the heart of our feelings is the Papua New Guinean human person[8]. Full use should be made of the talent, skills and the abilities of our town people[9]. We must place unwavering trust in the Papua New Guineans and their wisdom[10].

The government should purchase PNG authored books as it is in accordance with the National Goals and Directive Principles. We have to be more trusting of our own countrymen and women to be able and capable to perform tasks to the best of their abilities and as per their qualifications. In purchasing PNG authored books, the PNG government shows that it holds its nationality and sovereignty as its highest esteem.

Therefore, in conclusion, as a young female adult from this beautiful island nation of Papua New Guinea, I strongly recommend that the PNG government should purchase PNG authored books for the following valid reasons, as elaborated in detail above

Firstly, for cultural preservation purposes. Books written by local authors about PNG’s unique diversity, are a creative way to preserve and pass on the knowledge of many of our cultural practices and traditions. The government can effectively preserve PNG history through literary works if they start purchasing PNG authored books.

Secondly, PNG authored books should be purchased by the government, as PNG authors can be trusted to capture the authentic, real and honest stories of our land, in comparison to foreigners writing about our country.

Thirdly, when the government purchases PNG authored books it supports local SMEs within PNG and contributes to economic stimulation.

Fourthly, it creates job opportunities for PNG writes and aspiring writers, and decreases unemployment rates in the process. When the government purchases PNG authored books, it also in the process creates a commercialized market for PNG authors to compete and keep developing more book ideas in. It is also an act of patriotism which promotes a sense of nationality and togetherness when the PNG government purchases PNG authored books.  Illiteracy rates are also decreased when the PNG government purchases PNG authored books. This can be explained in the sense that, more illiterate locals are drawn towards reading a book written by a fellow country man or women. Hence, they find necessary solutions towards enabling themselves to read, thus eventually learning how to read, and increasing PNG intellect capacity and consequently decreasing illiteracy rates in PNG. And, lastly because it is in accordance with the National Goal and Directive Principles. It is high time, our government trusted its fellow countrymen and women to deliver, especially our PNG writers. Responsibilities should be delegated to the genuine few Papua New Guinean writers, in publishing collections of textbooks and other literary works, results are guaranteed.

References


[1] https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/PNG/papua-new-guinea/literacy-rate,  viewed on the 7th of December 2020

[2] The Constitution of the Independent State of PNG

[3] https://open.lib.umm.edu/exploringbusiness/chapter/1-7-governments-role-in-managing-the-economy-2/ , viewed on the 7th of December 2020

[4] Kuli. C.H, Literature Preserves Papua New Guinea (PNG) Cultural Heritage, www.pngbuai.com, published on June 25th of 2012, viewed on the 7th of December 2021, www.pngbuai.com/800literature/heritage/png-literature-heritage.pdf

[5] Cain. N.T, Bell. R, On writing, PNG Literature and the voice of the diaspora, www.devpolicy.com, published on the 17th of April 2018, viewed on the 29th of December 2020, https://devpolicy.org/on-writing-png-literature-and-the-voice-of-the-diaspora-20180417/

[6] Stronger Open Trade Policies Enable Economic Growth for all, www.worldbank.org, published on 3rd of April 2018, viewed on the 7th of December 2020, https://www.worldbank.org/en/results/2018/04/03/stronger-open-trade-policies-enables-economic-growth-for all#:~:text=Trade%20is%20central%ending,more%20affordable%20goods20services.

[7]ibid

[8] www.paclii.org/pg/CPCReport?Cap2.htm, under NGDP Number 5, viewed on the 31st of January 2021

[9] ibid

[10] ibid

About the essayist

My name is Latasha Akane and I am 22 years old. I come from a mixed parentage of Morobe province (Finschaffen) and Southern Highlands Province (Kagua).

I am a final year law student at the University of Papua New Guinea. I aspire to be a commercial cooperate lawyer who one day intends to usher into Papua New Guinea, multi million kina worth of investments that will in turn benefit all Papua New Guineans from different walks of life and produce tangible and visible developments as a result, especially in the rural parts of PNG.

I love reading and I have been writing since primary school. I have had exposure to the literary work of several PNG writers, especially in my primary school; Boroko Primary School, when I was about 12 and 13 years old. One of my favorite PNG authored books that I discovered in primary school is; “A compilation of literary works written by PNG women writers”, complied by Adeola James. A few female writers such as Nora Vagi Brash, Sally-Ann Bagita etc had their work also featured in this book. Vincent Eri’s book; “The Crocodile” is also another interesting read. Apart from that I’ve also read other children’s books written by PNG authors.  I am excited about this journey and honestly do believe the PNG government should purchase PNG authored books.

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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