Grand-daughter’s story of a pioneering pastor

Early mission patrol in the Enga region (Harold Freund)

PHILIP FITZPATRICK – posted on PNG Attitude blog

Mugang Mugarewec Bitengere- A Pioneer Missionary to the Highlands of New Guinea by Gabby Mugang, Marapa Publications, Waigani, 2018, K100 from the author at mbcpng@gmail.com

TUMBY BAY – The early Lutheran missionaries in the highlands relied very heavily on their Papua New Guinean pastors and evangelists to spread their message and extend their influence.

These men and their families were sent to live among the people they served and had to be tough and independent.

Mugang Mugarewec Bitengere from Finschhafen was one of those men.

He pioneered Lutheran mission work in the Wahgi, Jimi and Kambia areas of Jiwaka Province and also in some parts of Simbu and Western Highlands.

The history of the Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea is well documented, including in the 1986 book The Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea: The First Hundred Years.

Mugang and Manzia Bitengere grace the cover of their grand-daughter’s book

While due recognition is given to Papua New Guinean members of the church, there has never been anything significant published from their point of view.

As often noted previously in PNG Attitude, historical accounts from a Papua New Guinean perspective are few and far between.

Fortunately this seems to be changing, although momentum is still slow.

It was by accident that I came across a reference to Gabby Mugang’s book about her grandfather. I followed it up with interest.

Gabby writes of him:

“He was a man of valour; he stood in the face of danger and reached out to the people with the word of God. His unique capability of standing right in the midst of heated battles and initiate peace & reconciliation between warring enemies … touched the hearts and minds of the people and gained their respect.

“The people saw him as a strong, fearless and brave man who had the wisdom and courage to stand up boldly and speak and make decisions that had solutions, impacts and positive influences upon the lives of people both spiritually and physically. Through his ministry many people accepted the gospel and many lives were transformed.

“One of the outstanding highlights he achieved in his ministry was the self-autonomy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church – Jiwaka District from the Evangelical Lutheran Church – Hagen District.”

Mugang served the church for 41 years until he died in 1980. He was buried at Banz. His wife Manzia died in 1996.

Gabby Mugang (The National)

They are survived by family members; 10 children, 46 grandchildren, 61 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren residing throughout PNG and abroad.

It took Gabby four years to compile and write the biography of her grandfather.

During that time she trekked to many places to record interviews and research his story.

It seems, however, that after all this research and financial outlay to have the book published she is still struggling to sell it.

That, of course, is nothing new in Papua New Guinea. Every other author has that same problem.

Tramontina

By Dr. Andrew Moutu

You didn’t fall out of the skies

You came from somewhere on the ground-from a house or a store.

Made with human hands

To replace and extend the limits of human hands.

You are retrieved and taken in from the sides.

And come into the center.

Where the mind and the body become defined with the might of lateral dexterity.

Chop and cut, hack and slice, the bloody mutilation. Your actions rehearse a forethought.

Today a bird, the warbler of Waigani, got into your hands and died. The warmth in the body of the bird will fade and her body will be cold soon.

The dogs of Waigani are on their backs, punching with their feet in the air. These friends of man are sleeping upside down, wandering.

The skies of Waigani have seen the black fumes of wrath and fury.

Warmongers are running with Tramontina in their hands. Re-enacting a forethought.

Death is long and life is brief in the hands of Tramontina.

The seas of Taurama and Konedobu are rehearsing a song of rage. The seas might give us *gwarume mase* in this night of Tramontina.

Why did we left those songs of rage still coming in from the silent waves of our seas?

Maybe we were fooled or maybe we are deafened by the solemnity of the raging Tramontina?

Swarms of flies plea for grace at the sores on our feet. Maybe the songs of rage have become our pretty songs?

On occasions a few Bougainvilleans can dazzle us with a dance of Tramontina.

Yesterday’s afternoon sun outside the two shopping malls, the stadium, and in front of the City Hall of Waigani, was sickening with the dangling sound and sight of Tramontina.

Poetry reviews: Lamentations on the joy of youth

MICHAEL DOM

Cry My Beloved Country, Collection of Poems and Prose 1998 – 2018, Telly Orekavala, JDT Publishing, Port Moresby, February 2019, ISBN-13: 978-1797-08-275-2 Kindle Direct Publishing, USA, 76pp. Available on Amazon $3.59

THERE are many different ways to interpret a collection of poems and prose, and so writing about such a book, for me, is often an attempt to make sure that what I am taking away from it is not what I have read into it myself.

(As a note to my Papua Niuginian contemporaries, I should say that when writing a poetry review, I’m not always sure if I am doing it very well, but I keep writing them anyway, if simply for the pleasure of wrestling with the poems and my relationship with them. I do hope a few of you may decide to join me in these endeavors.)

Nevertheless, any reader would have to determine for their-self whether they want to take my word for it or to simply buy the book and get stuck into it. I enjoyed reading this book all three times.

Not believing what I’m about to say here is as good a reason as any to buy this book by Telly Orekavala. And I suspect that most readers will gain a whole lot more out of actually reading the book than from hearing my thoughts.

It is difficult for me to pick a single favourite poem out of the collection, and I suppose that means I don’t really have one, although there are a few that appeal to me more than others, a couple of which were surprising to myself.

It’s always delightful to make a surprise find when reading a new poem, and for me one of those was The Pink Month, for which I think the image of May grass wafting in the wind came to me with such clarity that the stunned voice in the text was mine; “Em May a-ah?”.

There are passages in many of the poems which provide similarly memorable moments and these are at the heart of enjoying a poem.

One example is an onomatopoeic* verse used in two related poems What are friends and Friendship Blooms. In this verse, I can hear the old Gordon Secondary school bell ringing in the back ground as I recall saying goodbye to friends on the last day of school.

Time bell rings
Time! Time! Time to go
Time! Time! Time to go

Telly also uses strong and clear simplicity of expression in some passages when summarizing the central idea of a poem. I like that effect in Good Old Days when he says;

I did not see what I see now
I did not hear what I hear today
I did not feel what I feel tete
The good old days

I also like the use of the ol’skul’ Tok Pisin term to complete the transition now – today – tete in our unique Papua Niuginian idiom.

Then there’s the verse segment from the socio-politically bent poem, Too much freedom stings, which, when read apart from the full context of the poem seems simple enough, but is in fact providing a summary of the commonly held and readily assumed notion that freedom is everything that we need to survive, which the rest of the poem then scrutinizes.

Man talk about it
Man sing about it
Man dream about it.

When freedom is deprived
People cry for it
People fight for it
People die for it.

Challenging popular and cherished notions is a feature of poetry that often brings poets into conflict with the champions and their cohorts, often the ‘thought-leaders’ (or ideologues) of modern-day philosophies.

In my view, that’s exactly the right position for a poet to take: truth-telling to the wise.

Telly does that well when confronting an agenda like gender equity (if not equality), without pretending to think one way or another, neither trying to ‘curry favour’ with the mainstream, nor trying to ‘spice up’ his words with juicy detail or ‘sorry, my bad’ supplications to particular adherents.

Instead, what we get is raw snapshots of reality in poems like Forgotten Daughter and The Woman Versus Me. Both poems of which I’m not providing excerpts here so that those in ‘the opposition camp’ may also beg, burgle, buy or borrow a copy of Telly’s book to read it for themselves.

I think those poems will be quite ‘stirring’.

And that’s good. We need to confront sociocultural issues with the bare facts laid out, before we can think about resolutions.

The key to change is understanding, and getting there isn’t easy in the first place.

In this book, Telly gives us lamentations on the joy of youth, from the eponymous poem, Cry My Beloved Country, and the more private second poem, I miss you, to Shattered Dream and Good Old Days, and then closing off with poems like Journey of Education and My Pet, My Friend.

These poems move us from the patriotic, with a nationalist’s sense of sorrow for Papua Niugini’s sad socio-economic scenarios, to the personal, for the loss of innocence and the self-realisations of young people, then to the deep anguish of losing a good friend from another branch of our animal kingdom.

Our feeling is made one through such lamentations in this kingdom of love and loss and learning.

We are also provided with anecdotes that provide a window to the dual (dueling) philosophies of Christian and traditional wisdom encapsulated in a number of poems.

The duality of our belief systems seems to me to be one of the constant contradictions which foreign visitors, and even we ourselves, may find confounding and at times frustrating to understand, let alone accept about Papua Niugini.

Telly Orekavala, the Chaplain of Devare Adventist High School, provides this fundamental revelation in his first book of poems and prose, without a hint of proselytizing.

I too believe there are benefits to be gained from a thoughtful reassimilation of our traditional with our trained Christian beliefs, and the poem My First Hunt gives me one reason to think that this may be a wise pathway to take on the adventure of our ‘coming of age’.

There are likely to be more than a few lamentable moments on our national journey (especially on the eve of a new government), but there’s also great joy to be experienced through the process of maturity.

My First Hunt

Father halts mother in her steps
He hushes her “shh”
I pulled my bowstring and aim
“Ptheswish” goes the arrow
Straight for the target all can see
It has hit the [bullseye].

Mother is congratulating me for the first kill
The inner circle are saying hooray
“You’ve done it this time”
Father says “Like father, like son”
Gives me a thumbs up
Feel elated,
I could touch the sky
Without the initiation ritual
Into the man’s world of game hunting
Creates in me good self-esteem.

In pursuit of Melanesian jurisprudence

Picture by The National

By DAVID GONOL – posted on the National

PAPUA new Guinea is truly a unique country in the world. It is one of the most diverse countries in the world in terms of cultures and languages. I always unashamedly take huge pride in this beautiful and unique country.
America may be the world leader in military, China maybe the world leader in population, Japan maybe the world leader in engineering, Israel maybe the world leader in start-ups but PNG is the world leader in languages and cultures.
Traditional PNG was never in a legal vacuum when Europeans colonised this country.
PNG already had customary laws governing its affairs but colonisers ignored such laws and imposed their own laws on us.
Therefore, about 98 per cent of the legal principles governing our country have their origin in English common law. English common law could adequately address problems back in England but certainly not in PNG.
Our problems are unique and so a unique Melanesian jurisprudence can adequately deal with them. Our forefathers foresaw the weakness of English common law and duly made provisions in our Constitution for us to develop our own version of English common law which is commonly referred to as Underlying Law or indigenous jurisprudence.
The underlying law were to be developed from two primary sources viz customary law and English common law.
It is imperative that we develop the underlying law. We can never run out of ideas and legal principles to develop this unique Melanesian law because we have a huge bank of worthy customs at our disposal. Our worthy customs are like ores which we need to extract and refine them in our court rooms and then apply them to address our unique problems.
Take, for instance, landownership issues in PNG. English common law cannot adequately address landownership issues because English common law knows that only the Crown can own land and not traditional communities like ours in Melanesia. With this kind of unique cases you need a Melanesian law and not English common law to deal with.
English common law was not made for PNG; it was made for England.
However, it was adopted at Independence because we were not of age at the time to develop our own version of English common law. Now we have come of age. We are capable. We can develop our own indigenous jurisprudence which is suitable for the needs of our country.
Therefore, I strongly believe that underlying law is the way to go for this nation. Underlying law is a PNG made law.
I have been researching on the development of the underlying law for many years. My research has culminated in the publication of the first ever book on the Underlying Law titled “The Underlying Law of Papua New Guinea – An Inquiry into Adoption & Application of Customary Law.”
This book has just been published and is set to be launched soon. Copies are available at UPNG Bookshop.

  • The writer is a lawyer, Assistant Registrar (National Court) & prolific author. He has written three books – and the latest being ‘The Underlying Law of Papua New Guinea – An Inquiry into Adoption & Application of Customary Law.’ The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not represent any individual or organisation. For comments email: marapapublications@gmail.com

Original story on this link: https://www.thenational.com.pg/pursuit-melanesian-jurisprudence/

Poetry reviews: persistent & emerging voices

Raymond Sigimet’s sparks of brilliance now and then set the page ablaze

MICHAEL DOM

Mirror On The Wall: selected poems, short stories and expositions by Raymond Muso Sigimet. JDT Publications, Port Moresby, 2018. 92 pp. ISBN-13: 978-1724-22-495-8. Amazon Books, paperback $7.41

A Window To My House: Collection of Poems by Raymond Muso Sigimet. JDT Publications, Port Moresby, 2018. 70 pp. ISBN-10: 1724225383, ISBN-13 978-1724225382, Amazon Books, paperback $9. 96

OVER THE LAST TWO WEEKS I have been reading and then reading to review Telly Orekavala’s recent book, Cry My Beloved Country. The poems are proving to be a source of fascination and inspiration too, and I will soon be providing Telly with my critique of his book.

Telly’s background as a teacher reminded me of another writer/poet Raymond Sigimet, whose writing I have enjoyed reading on PNG Attitude since 2015 and now on Ples Singsing blog, with the most recent poems I froze and Yangpela marit, demonstrating his entry into a new phase of writing.

It’s my impression that Raymond is building up to the publication of another book collection of poetry and prose.

If that is the case then his recent poems indicate that the material will be a valuable and high quality addition to Papua Niugini’s literary output.

Raymond is a storyteller of some skill, as demonstrated by his short-stories and occasional expositions, which provide excellent reading. While his poetry has evolved from early pieces with a more free verse narrative (My Child) and loosely structured verse (My peace is for you to live a life extraordinary) into elegantly structured verse with superb rhyming schemes (Let words be not silent or sleep alone) and classical fixed form villanelle (Bigger words to say I’m sorry), and even on the simplest poems Raymonds talent affords a shoreline (The island is calling) surface shine that draws the reader into its cool refreshing depths.

Thinking about the last three poems in 2021 I wrote that “Raymond’s poetry is like Christmas lights on ‘slo-glo’ mode. Watching from afar it looks like an ethereal wave as each bulb fades dimmer then builds up to a fiery sparkle. At the moment when most of the bulbs are waving down there’s that brief chance to catch your breath on a poem that leaves a residual glimmer of the lights in your brain“.

Sometimes that glimmering sounds like a melodious verse as in Let words be not silent or sleep alone; “Have all good poems been written / That we today have none to write / What then of the difficult mundane / The highs and lows we must bite / Or the hopes that we bear in spite”. When a poem leaves a residual glow, you know that it’s good“.

In Raymonds 2019 International Poetry Day message he provided insights into his art in a message that was an inspiration to his fellow writers now working on Ples Singsing, and outlined key reasons it was important that we should promote and support PNG authors for PNG readers.

“I believe that humans have shared experiences that transcend time and space and when these are captured effectively in a simple poem or story with a simple message, the reader is able to relive those experiences, relate to the poetry and perhaps be inspired to create change” …

“PNG at this time needs a national literature that must speak of the aspirations of the people after more than 40 years of independence”

Raymond Sigimet

More recently, Raymond has connected with Ples Singsing to have some of his newest poems published on our blog. Here below is the first poem, one which speaks in a nationalists voice, You are tresspassing. The poem aligns well with the 2022 World Environment Day theme of our Mini-Poetry Competition.

Poem by Raymond Sigimet 

YOU ARE TRESPASSING!

Halt there, foreigner!
Who are you, stranger?
Stand where you are, man!
You are trespassing!
My forebears stood here
They fought and died here
They bled on this ground
Their blood wet the soil
They farmed and worked here
Their sweat salted this ground
They mourned and buried
Their dead on this ground
Their spirits live here
They breathe on this ground

Halt there, foreigner!
Who are you, stranger?
Stand where you are, man!
You are trespassing!
Papa hunted here
Mama fed me here
My child was born here
My whole life is here
My son hunted here
My daughter bled here
My blood will stand here

Halt there, foreigner!
Who are you, stranger?
Stand where you are, man!
You are trespassing!
Cutting down my trees
Digging up my ground
Poisoning my streams
Stealing my birth right
I do not know you
Who are you, stranger?
You are trespassing!

God’s last stopping place. But what of Nutu?

“But when they came they hid you in the Book / And said you weren’t from around this place / We searched ’til we had nowhere else to look…”

GREGORY BABLIS – posted on PNG Attitude blog

ORO – I wrote this sonnet as I thought about some of the ideas arising from my interviews and other observations while conducting fieldwork amongst the Mengen (or Maenge) people of Jacquinot Bay in East New Britain.

The concept of God was a principle theme of most of my interlocutors. Nutu is one of the central characters in Maenge mythology.

Central in any discussion of their spiritual world was whether this being is foreign to the Mengens.

Or whether “we the people knew Him before they [the missionaries] came”.

Melanesia was the last place within Oceania to be Christianised.

Was it also the last place God visited?

___________

The Selenelion

A sonnet by Gregory Bablis

We the people knew Him before they came
His art and beauty we saw every day
We imbued Him into our hausboi’s frame
Gardens grow not least ’cause to Him we pray

Bountiful harvests are a normal trend
Many fish we get from around the bay
You’d think the seafood buffet wouldn’t end
We call – and tuna come at no delay

But when they came they hid you in the Book
And said you weren’t from around this place
We searched ’til we had nowhere else to look
Far away we fell from your saving grace

Still every day you watch us from the sky
When celestial bodies perch up on high.

Read more about the Mengan (Maenge) people here

Vance Solmien laments for the land, for home and family

A poem entered in the Mini-Poetry 2022 Competition for World Environment Day

IMage by Rocky Roe: A close-up of forest diversity in Papua New Guinea
Poem by Vance Solmien

My Home, My Family

What has happened to my home and my family?
My heart is troubled and my soul laments in anguish and sorrow.
My land is in bitter sorrow and mourning,
In losing her beloved sons and daughters.

The streets are not the same,
There’s no smile, joy and laughter.
The trees bow down and weep,
The birds sing in a distant and unknown tongue in lament.

The morning sun hides behind the clouds.
The eastern wind sweeps over and shuffles the silent landscape and
breaths into my sorrow-filled nothingness.
Whispering a silent huss giving little comfort.
The evening wind whispers and the Kumul sing a serenade,
The dogs howl in the depth and stillness of the night,

The northern breeze chills my soul,
The morning light brings a beacon of hope,
I look to the North I find no answer,
I look to the South I find no answer,
I look to the East; there too, I find no answer.
I look to the West, even there, I find no answer.

But I know,
He knows where I am,
When I am through all these,
I will come out like gold purified in the furnace of affliction.

Rochelle Bokalen reminds us to love our Mama Graun

A poem entered in the Mini-Poetry 2022 Competition for World Environment Day

Image from Trans Niugini Tours “Just another day in Paradise”
Poem by Rochelle-Rhiannon Bokalen

Mama Graun

This place I live in
Is a land ever green
Blanketed with blue waters
From which many islands adrift.

From the highlands to the islands
We embrace our tropical forests
With towering trees, looming over the horizons
Home to our kapuls and kumuls, tiduks and minigulais.

Home to varied species
Of slimey, creepy, crawlies
From herbivores to carnivores
And plants as good as new.

This is where I get timber
To build myself a house
This is where I gather woods 
To cook my evening meal.

This is where I hunt for pigs
And leafy greens and wild berries
To feed my family, neighbours and you
To keep the love and care and bond.

This is where I get my medicine
To heal my sore and cold and flu
This is where it all began
Before Whiteman surfaced with dollars and cents. 

I see money, but I won't be fooled
I am to borne a heir tomorrow
He'll need the greenery
He'll need the freshness.

She'll need clean air
From which to breathe
She'll need good health
From which to bear.

Among the shrubs and bushes
The vines and trees alike
The beasts wild or tamed
This is my motherland.

I'll keep exploiters away
I'll keep loggers afar
Dispela em i bus belong mi
Em i Mama Graun belong mi.

Sagat Raings reminds us to praise God for this unique land

A poem entered in the Mini-Poetry 2022 Competition for World Environment Day

Sagat Raings poem

The land is unique

Build your house, build your town, build your city
Came fall the woodlands to a great city
The wind swept the leaves making them speak
The wind swept the grasses making them sing
The land is unique
Praise to be the great god.

Build your house, build your town, build your city
Came are the roaring sound of motor
The fish danced to the sounds of the waves
The waves greet the sand and shout for joy
The land is unique
Praise to be the great god.

Build your house, build your boundaries, build your evergreen
The bell-birds has welcomed the dawn
The insects cry for glory
The dolphins jumped for joy
The land is unique
Praise to be the great god.

Build your house, build your boundaries, build your evergreen
Came fall the woodlands build are the cities
Grown are the evergreen the power and the sweetness of the future
The land is unique
Praise to be the great god.