Reflecting on childhood memories of PNG’s first PM visit

By Paul Minga

Michael Somare became the first PNG Prime Minister in 1975

THE BUZZING HELICOPTER took my childhood attention unexpectedly by storm in offloading PNG’s first PM Michael Thomas Somare was at where now Kerowil Singirok, PNGDF Engineering Battalion Highlands base is located.

Every Papua New Guinean born before or after independence has their own story to share, reflect, reminisce, highlight and tell others about their encounter or sighting of PNG founding PM – the Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare.

I was born sometimes in 1973 and was fortunate to have caught of my country’s founding and first PM for the first time as a 6 or seven year old boy at Kerowil, a village located 20 kilometers or so east of Banz town.

Around that time the area hosted the North and South Waghi LLG Council chambers and Kerowil Community School in the Waghi Valley in the late seventies.

It was during 1979 or 1980, as l can’t really recall the exact year or date for l was an out of school boy at that time.

News and rumors of the PM and the local MP Kaibelt Diria visit to Kerowil was spreading fast in the village a few days earlier. That made every grown up person excited about the occasion and eager to see their PM and their local MP.

My peers and I did not care so much about all the fuss going on in the village about the PM’s visit to Kerowil as our minds and interest were focused on different childhood activities at the time.

Anyway, a day before the visit was due for PM Somare and our local MP to visit Kerowil my mum encouraged me to join the greeting crowds.

I could still remember that evening mum said to me, “It’s your golden chance to see the country big men coming to Kerowil tomorrow. Your dad and everyone else are going so you must go along with dad and see Michael Somare – the country boss.”

What mum said to me that evening was something interesting enough to make me so excited that I questioned dad repeatedly if the two of us were for certain going to Kerowil together the next day to see Michael Somare.

Dad knew how eager and anxious l was that evening so he promised to take me along to the big occasion the next day. That night l went to bed on my canvas and cardboard bed as excited as ever.

The mood l was in was just the same as when there is going to be a pig killing ceremony to be held in the morning the next day.

In the early morning hours of the next day, village elders and chiefs were shouting out announcements in reminding every able person to leave behind whatever planned activity for the day and be all in attendance at Kerowil for the PM’s visit.

On that day those who had planned activities and shows to entertain the crowd and welcome the PM and his delegation prepared early in the morning and were all congregating into Kerowil for the occasion.

The day was as fascinating and exciting for an out of school boy as me, seeing villagers in traditional attire that were as sparkling and colourful. Some acted as comedians from their rehearsal of different activities and showed that they were planning to stage at Kerowil for the occasion. There was much in store to see and enjoy that day as l followed dad and we made a journey of about 10 kilometers walk to Kerowil from our village.

Upon our arrival at Kerowil it was a real spectacle, beyond my imaginations, with the singing, plays and staging of show by different cultural and comedian groups. What was as big crowd attraction were the brass band and posing of early white explorer Jim Taylor’s “BRUKIM BUS” scene were feast of lead up activities into the main occasion of the PM’s visit.

While witnessing all forms of show and entertainment, I thought to myself, wow what a scene and what a day.  One thing funny was that I wasn’t aware that our country PM and the entourage would travel to Kerowil in a chopper. Even my dad wasn’t aware about that too.

As dad and l were not aware of PM Somare coming to Kerowil by air, we enjoyed the good time away in fully concentrating on all the show that were as amusing and entertaining going on over the day.

Unfortunately, the sound of all the singing, the beating of drums, cheering and shouting of the crowd made the place became deafening. So we couldn’t hear the chopper carrying the PM and delegation was coming in to land.

As the chopper came near, all of a sudden people called out in our vernacular “Hoi wonum, wonum” meaning its coming, its coming.

At that instant people were colliding and bumping into each other amongst the crowd, trying to make way for the chopper to land.

It was rather funny because the crowd was also not aware of the incoming chopper and they were also taken by surprise. Dad and I were being pushed over in the melee and stampede but we were holding hands at the time.

I feel down but dad stood firm and pulled me up again. At that instant l was confused with the crowd action, with the stampede and everything else that was going on, l thought a mad man was running wild and people were trying to flee for cover.

As only an out of school boy l mistook the crowd action for a mad man giving them chase. But it wasn’t as l thought. It was the landing chopper that brought PM Somare – its swirling propellers sent flying sticks, leaves and other objects hitting the onlookers face forcing them to take cover. It was a hilarious melee.

This funny incident l still recall to this day as a middle aged person.

In recalling that from my memory, as the chopper made touch down at Kerowil Community School playing field, for some like me who had never seen a landed chopper in my lifetime, l stood in awe with eyes wide open.

It was as a rare opportunity for me to get a glimpse of the landing craft at that time during the visit by our country’s founding PM. I gazed at the chopper with my heart  beating rapidly to see what would eventuate next.

First to step out was a white pilot, then the man whose name l used hear a lot about, in a grey laplap type garment and shirt followed by our local MP Kaibelt Diria, and two other persons made their way up to the grandstand to the applause and cheering of the crowd. That was the first sighting of my country pioneer and founding PM as an out of school boy in the late seventies at Kerowil, North Waghi in Jiwaka.

Kumani-The Poem

By Fiada Kede

Source Bosco Link Australasia: Young man and woman dance at a cultural (By Ms. Arlene Abital)
he, Kumani
in a gentle, but deep voice
uttered a breath
as he holds my hand
"Darling? write, of me a poem "
I paused for a sec-
breath a sigh
looked him in the eyes
-the eyes that brim with love like a consuming fire
of which I was just about to melt like a wax of candle
then, said, I

"How dare, could I ?
Being a novice,
a mere dust and vapor,
trapped inside the body of a flawed abade
whose ink, even the slightest of pint,
would jail me for a drip on a poetry so perfect
-a Kumani like you "

I squeeze his hands so tightly like I couldn't let go
added, I, calmly and gently, while holding his stare
"You are the poetry,
- the perfect of the poems,
written not with ink
crafted and carved
perfect epitome of an art
by the hands so perfect
-perfect of the Poets
I, would stretch

E T E R N I T Y  E X P L O R I N G

your pitch-perfect rhythm and rhyme
your metaphor and simile, will I digest
your assonance and consonance, will I sing
your alliteration will be my iteration
for thousand and thousands of sunsets and sunrises
Oh Kumani!
The poem I will read billion and  a zillions of times.

Note: Kumani in Frigano dialect of Lufa can be used as a noun; name of a person and adjective; to describe a person who's so handsome or pretty or a person  "we em i karim gutpla pasin"
Abade also in Frigano dialect refers to a young girl

Kurai Memorial Awards Judging is in progress

Next week we will meet our three judges for Ples Singsing’s inaugural awards for short-biography writing.

The judges are professional writers and avid fiction readers, who are recognised as Wantok Blong Ples Singsing (Associate Members).

The judges will bring to bear their own wealth of knowledge and experience in writing, editing and publishing of fiction and non-fiction materials, including poetry, short-stories, drama and essays, journalism, editorials, opinion articles and advertising.

Their perspectives will be valuable to the young writers who have entered the contest.

As announced in the official launching poster, there are two categories in the competition for men’s and women’s writing. We received ten entries in the men’s division and five entries in the women’s division.

The criteria for judging include;

  • Interesting – a story may be interesting even if it is poorly written
  • Informative – a story may be informative or valuable history even if it is not very interesting
  • Inspiring/Inspired – the story is inspiring or the writer seems genuinely inspired
  • Well written – clear, concise but fully expressed, ordered
  • I want to read more! – The Wow Factor that this story needs to be told

Just a little walk in the dark

Flash fiction by Raymond Sigimet

Source ABC: A dark track at night

“Bro, hariap ya! Plis o! Move a little faster yah.”
He kept talking and irritating me, like a betel nut stain on a wall.
I’m big for my size and quite slow. That’s why.
I’m also fed up with the nagging. I truly am.
Like I’m fed up with how friends compare me to an overfilled water balloon.
Or they say I’m fed up with how my family compares me to a whale with limbs.
Why in the name of my beloved ancestor did I let this bugger tag along?
He needs to zip it. I felt drained listening to him.
“You forgot the torch, bro. Hau yu lus tingting ya?” his voice sounded like sour lime.
“We need the torch…. can’t see where we’re goin’. Hat long lukluk gut ya. There are snakes and centipedes and scorpions.”
Oloman! Man ya bai toktok yet ya. Yes, I’ve become forgetful lately.
It’s dark and there’s no torch but I don’t need to have my ears bashed.
“I know. Sori mi lus tingting long torch ya.” I had to respond.
I felt bruised from all his talk and tired from all the walking.
He started again.
“It’s dark bro… don’t like the idea of walking in the dark. Kainkain samting stap ya…”
“You’ve been talking forever!” The irritation fermented in my mouth.
“Just concentrate on where we’re going. My ears are bleeding man… just stop talking, will you?”
I wiped the sweat from my forehead. It was unpleasantly cold and sticky.
“If you’re thinking of becoming a radio repeater station, I’ll leave you standing here in the dark.”
His rambling criticisms seemed never-ending. I did not need to be constantly admonished by this kapamaus.
I’d already scolded myself for forgetting the torch and didn’t need him to keep piling on.
I doubled my pace just to keep calm and not be provoked.
Come to think of it, what kind of friend is it who continuously irritates you over minor things.
Mi belhat na belkaskas wantaim ya. I was sick and tired of his rebukes.
We’d been on good terms since I can remember. But now, he was not acting like a friend at all.
“If only we had the torch, we could see where we’re goin’,” he started again. My face flushed.
“Mi hat long lukluk ya … You sure we’re goin’ in the right direction and not in circles.”
I detected a note of fear in his voice. Was he afraid of the dark?
I was contemplating whether to increase my pace even further to put more distance distance between us.
Instead I decided to ease his anxiety.
“Even if it’s dark, I’m quite sure of the path,” I assured him. “This track is familiar – like the back of my hand.”
“Look, we can’t see in front of us and …” he stammered.
“Yes, I know. My brain is also processing. What’s your point. “I hope you’re not going to mention the torch again.
“But…” I blew up before another word passed his lips.
“Shut up! Stop! Just don’t talk! Inap long toktok ya!”
I spun around to face him and we stood still like burned out tree trunks for a while.
I then turned and walked on.
He didn’t speak for some time. Nor did I. We just strode blindly along the track. Me in the lead, he following.
The tall trees, the rattan and brush seemed to close in making each step unsure.
But at least the torch nagging was quelled.
After a few minutes, I heard him talking.
“You remember the man and woman, the red-hot couple?
“The ones who claimed they got lost and walked in circles in the forest for a whole night?”
“The short one and the tall one. Yeah, I remember.”
“Well, the gossip was that they were actually meeting in the forest.
“It was when they were taking a dive in the deep that they were caught.
“Yeah, well, what I heard was that they were playing rugby when they were disturbed in a tackle by some youths.”
“Well, they claimed during the mediation that they were on separate errands when the short tree spirits tricked them and.… but everyone knew what happened in the bush,” he said.
“There was gossip brewing in the village and magistrate Zero didn’t want a scandal. The magistrate was also sympathetic to the hurt parties.”
“So did they pay compensation for their sins?” I asked. “I did not attend the mediation.”
Mediations in this part of the world are like public inquisitions without the stocks, stakes and fires.
“No, there was no compensation. Both denied everythin’. Life went back to normal for everyone.
“It’s strange how people forgive and forget and life continues as if nothing happened,” he continued, talking more to himself than to me.
It was then that we approached the clearing leading to the village.
“You have arrived at your destination.” His mimic of the woman’s voice on the GPS was clever but unnecessary.
We could see fires and silhouettes of the village houses. We were home.
I stepped into our house and could see my father husking a betel nut for another chew.
He’d been keeping a lookout for me. He knew I hated doing his errands in the night.
“Hey, you’ve returned so quickly,” he said.
“Yeah, I had to walk fast,” I responded. “It was dark.”
“I guess so,” Pa replied, “I noticed some minute after you left you forgot the torch.
“It’s still on the chair where you left it.”
He pointed to the cheap plastic chair where I’d been sitting before he sent me to check on grampa and gramma who lived at their own place 20 minutes away.
“I thought I heard you talking with someone just now. Did you come with someone.”
“Na, no pa, it was just me,” I stammered, feeling stupid.
“I, uh, was talking to myself. Just urging myself along in the dark.”

belhat na belkaskas wantaim – angry and furious at the same time
bro – brother
hariap – hurry
hat long lukluk gut – hard to see clearly
inap long toktok ya – stop talking
kainkain samting stap ya – all kinds of things are here
kapamaus – someone who constantly talks or nags (may have originated from the irritating sound metal scraping against metal)
lus tingting – forget
mi hat long lukluk ya – I’m looking hard
plis – please
sori – sorry
ya bai toktok yet ya – you really can talk

The Old Justice is Dead

A poem by Raymond Sigimet

Spirit or Long house at Gojomas village, Sepik Region, Papua New Guinea
The old justice is dead, and lost to time
Where once in the hausman it chanted at night 
Amidst broken betel nut and waft of lime 
Spoken in a chanted glow of embers’ light

Burnt and buried, the old justice of the past
Where balance and order were societal norm 
Calling upon ancestors and act not in haste 
To pass judgement from man’s earthly worm

No more calling of ancestors, but devil's chime 
No more juries of aged but nightly flight 
While masked in shifting forms hidden from time 
Where nature obeys to man's spoken might 

Now a darker flame in the hausman is cast 
Every fear of night like an advancing storm
A new order of scheming, blood and fast
Twisting the old justice far from its form

Under That Cement Slab

A poem by Joseph Tambure

Under this decorated slab
A person with unused treasures lies
Treasures so huge for an entire country
Because our years are numbered
And life can be very short
Under the slab are untold treasures

Under this slab lies a wealthy man
Silent, closed eyes, a mind no more
A dead body in a small single room
With its wealth worth many millions
Sadly unused before his time was up
Under this slab also a person of worth

That slab hides beneath a person of ideas,
Of vision and plans all sketched out
Linked with wisdom and understanding
All this gone to the grave unused
Beneath this slab is a wealthy man
And also a gifted and talented person

Today under this slab maggots feast
But only on the body and not on the soul
Untapped riches gone with soul into oblivion
Man lives once, no more, and is gone to soon
Leaving behind gifts, memories and stories
Of the person under the slab whose life has gone

Two recent poems by Jimmy Awagl

The Cracking Dawn

A fading darkness embracing the earth
Segregating the earth before sunrise
As the eyes of the bleeding flame
Glow in the hanging fog
Scattered moisture departing tree tops

A lone placid sea turns blood
With the ink of the heavenly flame
As the infant dawn casts its shadow
Commanding the wind to sleep in stillness
While the morning turns into a glittering dew

The red eyes of the glowing flame
Casts a golden spectrum like a sunflower
Painting on the dazzling clouds
Beyond the eastern skies
Reflected like a convex mirror in our eyes

The nocturnal creatures farewell the darkness 
The morning cicada welcomes the glittering dawn
While the leaping sun greets the gliding clouds
As morning birds sing their cheerful songs
The rays kisses the dew on still leaves

The calmness of dawn
Forcing the leaves not to dance
But to hide the beauty of their smile
Like an old woman sleeping beside a fireplace
Warming her body by the burning flame

The reflective flame in red and gold
Sprinkle like an ink on the canvas
With the eyes of the heavenly rays
Escaping the darkness like a thief
Illuminating the earth for twelve new hours

The Dancing Waves

The Inertia, Is Papua New Guinea’s Innovative Surf Management Plan the Way of the Future?
FRIDAY JANUARY 8, 2016, Alexander Haro, Senior Editor
On the surface of the mysterious blue
Unseen wind kissing saltwater surface
Curving white clouds of rumbling bubbles
Forcing the waves to follow in a curve
Like morning fog on the tree tops

A dancing queen with a glistening crown
Smiling and swinging in magic rhythm
Like Motu frangipani petals swaying
Stalked on soft frizzy and kinky hair
Waving steadily in ceaseless cadence

Like an image reflecting in a mirror
Rushing to the seashore’s sands
As a herd of woolly sheep might move
Wanting in calmness and serenity
Stained a complexion of its own turbulence

Yet, the blowing strength of the wind
Always making the moving sea grumble
Shoving dancing waves to leap and to dive
It’s the dance of the waves in choreography,
A gift for our eyes from the bustle of the sea

PNG youth is trapped in the web of modernity

Philip Kai Morre

Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude, 27 December 2022

KUNDIAWA – Youth in Papua New Guinea is a time bomb that our country is adding in its drift towards anarchy.

CPL Outlet to open in Kundiawa, By Patrick Tom Post-Courier, January 28 2011

Even as far back as the 2011 national census, 60% of PNG’s estimated population of 7.3 million was aged under 25.

It is clear that if the PNG government does not focus on the youth population now, the future prospects of the whole country will be saturated by failure.

Few school leavers are able to find gainful employment. Many leave their villages for the towns and cities hoping to find work. There is no work for most and poverty and crime follow.

One way to solve the problem would be to recruit more personnel for the army and police force.

This way these young people would earn a living and contribute to improving the country’s law and order situation.

But with perhaps as many as six or seven million people aged under 25, it would need more than recruitment into the disciplined services to solve the unemployment problem.

Youths could also be involved in earning a living in agriculture and small and medium sized enterprises.

This is a good idea but would require planning, preparation and budgeting beyond the capacity of our country.

Partly because of the ‘youth problem’, PNG is now in the midst of a time of spiritual and moral breakdown.

The growth of secular humanism, challenges to social cohesion and the decline of cultural values and norms are accompaniments to modernisation and a society that has become material-oriented.

We also see problems related to what I term a ‘culture of death’.

These include drug addiction, gender-based violence, violence related to sanguma (witchcraft), killings related to elections and the growth of cults.

The plague of tribal warfare, especially in the Highlands, destroys life and properties and displaces people in dehumanised conditions.

They also become victims of the negative impact of digital and social media. These are other elements that promote criminal activities and antisocial behaviour.

The almost total breakdown of health services has accelerated death and long-term illness resulting from lifestyle diseases and infectious diseases like Covid and tuberculosis have become more common and more difficult to treat and manage.

Our youth is caught up in this complexity and disorientation.

ABC News Teenagers dominate parts of Papua New Guinea as the country’s youth population booms
By PNG correspondent Natalie Whiting in Mount Hagen
Posted Sat 9 Nov 2019 at 5:10amSaturday 9 Nov 2019 at 5:10am, updated Sat 9 Nov 2019 at 3:33pm

They are not only confronted by these problems without solutions and an identity crisis triggered by the move from traditional to modern society but they can also find no means of escape.

The inevitable outcomes include addiction to alcohol and drugs and an explosion of crime.

The root cause of these problems lies within our society failing to deal with growth and change.

We tend to respond with our irrational thinking, misconceived attitudes and aggressive behaviour.

In seeking to define the root cause, I am led to an understanding that dealing with these problems will not transform or solve anything until we restore the human beings who create these iniquities.

Indeed, focusing on personal growth should be the aim of any problem-solving model endeavouring to reduce harm and crime.

There also needs to be an accompanying focus on addressing the ‘culture of death’.

The crimes we see in PNG are clear symptoms of a society that is sick. The helplessness felt by our youth is also a clear symptom of a society that is sick.

I believe that most of our youth know they have problems and know some of the solutions (get a job) but lack an understanding of how to give effect to the solutions.

Their problems all stem from their lives lacking meaning and purpose, and we – their kin, their leaders, their society, their government – are not helping them with what they need.

The crisis brought on by finishing school and not being able to progress further causes many young people to question who they are and what life means.

This is an identity crisis and it often undermines self-confidence. Youths don’t have trust in themselves, they feel they are worthless, inferior and without hope.

They don’t know where they going and they roam through life aimlessly.

An education system that was once viewed with great passion begins to lose its meaning for young people when they find it leads nowhere.

Our traditional values, norms, obligations, beliefs and heritage are disappearing.

The ability of families, kinships and clans to mobilise young people for work and celebration is dying out.

Today few youths go to church for spiritual and moral guidance and to learn what is wrong or right, good or bad, evil or holy.

Secular humanism has taken over from traditional spirituality and moral values, and our youths don’t seem to value themselves as human beings who have dignity.

Our youth, and our country, find themselves trapped in the web of modernity which brings inability and discontent, and seemingly lacks the leadership, understandings and resources required to escape.

My Son

Stephanie Alois

Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude, 30 June 2022

I’ll give you the world my little one / I’ll raise you properly-even with father gone / So rock-a-bye baby / Don’t you ever cry / Grow child grow, grow up and be a better man


Your father disowned you and I cried
Silently in my heart and swallowed my pride
Isolated from the village and gossip of men
Pain, oh such sweet-bitter pain

Your tiny feet kicked and I giggled
Smiling softly; waiting to have and to hold
Happy, I’m happy to meet my baby
Alas! Now to clinic with heavy tummy
Rush, oh what a rush

Your squeak halted my tormented cries
And I smiled faintly
Holding you in my arms tenderly
Blood dripping down on clinical bed covers
Blink, you blinked at me innocently

Your tiny body washed and wrapped in sheets
Placing you in a bilum made of wool
Whisking you away on a freezing night
To our isolated home, on rocking chair I sat
With you in my arms and singing a lullaby
Rock-a-bye baby, oh sweet child sleep soundly

Your tiny hands grabbed my hair when morning came
Pulling you close and tucking you in
Only the silence witnessed my promise
I’ll give you the world my little one
I’ll raise you properly-even with father gone
So rock-a-bye baby
Don’t you ever cry
Grow child grow, grow up and be a better man

Meeting Penny

Raymond Sigimet

Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude, 18 August 2022

“I heard footsteps brushing against the grass and crackling the dry leaves. I looked up and was surprised to see a pretty young woman, all Afro and earrings”

FLASH FICTION – This is my story of Penny, someone I met unexpectedly. On a Wednesday.

Our meeting was extraordinary and it happened on this particularly insignificant Wednesday.

I got to know that Penny is a Capricorn, born in the month of January.

She’s of slim build, rather serious and insecure, something of a dreamer.

She’s let her hair grow into a Mela-Afro perfectly balanced on her head. When she smiles, her dimples smile too on a smooth, copper-brown face.

Her full name is Penelope, but she said she shortened it to Penny because Penelope was too popular a name.

Wow! Penelope a popular name! I didn’t know that.

But I should tell you, I have this boyish thing for the name Penelope.

Ever since I laid eyes on the Spanish Hollywood actress Penelope Cruz. The name conjures bliss and heaven.

It’s my secret embarrassment.


Penny said she decided to change Penelope to just Penny out of love.

“Thou must love God …thou must love thyself and … thou must love thy neighbour …” she said.

“There were two other girls in my school with the name Penelope.

“So I went to the school administrators and politely requested a name change.

“They agreed and I became Penny. I did it out of love for me and them.”

I didn’t probe further but suspected it was something to do with her insecurity.

I imagined my boy crush Penelope Cruz being Penny Cruz. It didn’t sound right.

And I wouldn’t be who I am now.


In the shade of a tall eucalyptus I sat on a concrete bench, puzzled.

The campus park was well populated. All the other benches were occupied with what looked like tutorial groups.

I observed them and chewed at the lid of my Bic biro. It tasted like plastic.

The crossword was indeed a puzzle.


The previous day I’d got the page with comics, crossword and astrology from my roommate’s newspaper.

I told him I needed the puzzle and he obliged.

“Bro, I just need to get my head out of my arse,” I’d said.

“Been going around in circles these past few days working on a political science essay.”

“A sad predicament, bro. Hope you find your way,” he’d consoled, tearing out the page and passing it to me.


I sucked on the Bic top and turned my attention to the comic strips.

This distracted me for a few minutes. The humour in the punchlines was dry. Not enough to raise my mood.

I glanced at Sagittarius in the star signs – my birth month reading was hopeful but incomplete and strange.

‘You need room to grow and blossom. You are going to meet someone in a meeting that will be brief and forever.’

I had no idea what this meant.

But at that very moment I heard footsteps brushing against the grass and crackling the dry leaves.

I looked up and was surprised to see a pretty young woman, all Afro and earrings.

“Hi, may I sit on this side. Hope I’m not disturbing or intruding. It’s the only bench with free space.”

My brain froze for a split second.

“Ah, of course, for sure, you….. Take a seat.”

“Thank you…” She extended a thin, warm hand.

“My name’s Penny.”