See you at the crossroads

Michael Dom

Gordon Secondary School graduation poem for Year 12’s November 1996

At the end of Grade Twelve

Two years seems

Just as long a time as four

And the memories just as sweet

The days went by

In periods long and short

Interesting and exciting

Boring and dreary

Sleepy or alert           

And we learned a lot

Not all our lessons were academic

And some things

More important than math

What have I understood at the end of it all?

The World is a wide but small place

With room for everyone

But you’ve got to push to get in

Your education can mean everything

Or nothing

And friends aren’t always

Those who laugh with you

So we’ve reached a crossroads

Where paths divide

For a while we enjoyed the freeway together

But now we’re on to wilder roads

With no U-Turns or roundabouts

And a hell of a lot of potholes

Perhaps some will pick up passengers on the way

The kind that stay

But all speculation is without strength

Because if the future’s dark

You can’t see far enough

And if it’s bright

It hurts your eyes

To look for too long

So just keep your eyes on the road

Because if you miss a turn

There’s too much traffic on this one way street

To turn back

I won’t say goodbye

Just farewell

Because we may meet again

At another crossroads               

Who knows where?

Who knows when?

Time is a Feeling

17 NOVEMBER 2020

GREGORY BABLIS

Part of “The Journey” mural by Ratoos Haopa
Time is a feeling
No matter how much one tries
To measure and quantify
With hour glass, sun dial, clock
It is as much a feeling
As it is a concept of space
You feel time more than you read it.
When you're enjoying it
Time moves fast
When you're in "prison"
It moves at snail’s pace
When there's so much to do
There's not enough time to do it in
When there's nothing to do
There's too much time on hand.
Time is a feeling
You feel time 
Catalyzed by your emotions
When you’re happy
Time is short
When you’re sad
Time drags on
When you’re pressed for it
There’s not enough of it.
In melancholia,
Time devours
Creating a psychological expanse
Barren of joy
Teeming with sorrow
Longing for it to end
Only lengthens its torturous grip.

In love,
Time devours
Creating a flurry of warmth
Savouring, shortens the spell
Time compresses
And ends all too soon
Taking you with it
Or placing you on a path anew.

Ples Singsing welcomes PNG writers and poets

Ples Singsing Masterminds

“The Ples Singsing blog is created to encourage and facilitate this process to “re-thing and reclaim” our own stories, poetry and drama. Here we may interact with each other through our writing, in literature which expresses what it means to us to be Papua Niuginian”.

Re-thing and reclaim our own approaches to express our story, by Michael Dom

Avatar image of Ples Singsing

As part of our aim for Ples Singsing to be a place for Papua Niuginian creativity we want to welcome all writers to participate in presenting their thoughts and opinions about aspects of our society, economy, politics and culture.

We encourage open expression provided that this is done in a constructive spirit and displays respect and due consideration.

One helpful means of encouraging constructive thinking and writing is through essay competitions.

Ples Singsing will soon launch an essay contest for PNG secondary and tertiary students, the first of what is hoped to be a five year program.

This initial competition will be on an issue which is fundamental to PNG writers and which underpins the core values of Ples Singsing: why the PNG government should/should not buy PNG authored books.

In 2019 over 300 writers and supporters of PNG literature signed a petition to Prime Minister James Marape to request for the PNG government to support our national authors.

A year later there has been no response.

Nevertheless, we have not given up hope and neither have we stopped in our writing efforts.

In fact the leader of our petition group, Daniel Kumbon, recently published a 400 page book, a historical biography of an Engan family, for which Phil Fitzpatrick writes:

“Daniel’s story, in every respect, is what might be termed blockbuster in its context.

But beyond that it is also a study of the amazingly complex impact of colonisation on an indigenous society that was to be thrust at warp speed from stone-age to modernity over the course of what was a single human generation.

Intertwined throughout the book is the personal story of one individual and his family.”

Also, independent publishers Jordan Dean and late Francis Nii continued to work with authors preparing manuscripts for publishing, including Pole John Kale (Quest for Education From Collecting Firewood To Yale University, Michael Dom (26 sonnets and Dried grass over rough cut logs), Francis Nii (Flight of Jungle Eagle), Baka Barakove Bina (Operesin Kisim Bek Lombo), Samantha Kusari (When the River Destroys), Iso Yawi (God, My Country and Me), and Caroline Evari (Nanu Sina).

Moreover, the life of late author Francis Nii was celebrated with a collection of his entire catalogue of writing, which also featured contributions from many PNG authors.

And that was only a list of books that we are notified of by Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude within the last 18 months.

Unfortunately most of the books on this list will not be readily available to readers in PNG.

While authors now have access to online publishing options, purchase, delivery and costs of securing copies of their books remains a major logistical and financial drawback to interested buyers and self-funded authors alike.

Jordan Dean and other authors have also been donating books to schools to help improve student access to reading and learning materials authored by fellow Papua Niuginians.

Folks at Ples Singsing believe in the validity of the petition made by PNG authors to Prime Minister Marape.

We believe that supporting PNG authors for PNG readers is a practical way to ‘take back PNG’ because we will be giving back to PNG those stories (fictional and non-fiction) which already belong to us and which encompass who we are and what we value in our society.

This means we need to hear more opinions and gather more suggestions about the cause of our petition.

We want to read essays from our youth, students in secondary schools, technical, vocational and teachers colleges, and universities.

We believe that hearing from you is the best way to determine the value of our cause and determine the way we want to achieve our goal.

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR AN UPDATE ON THE ESSAY COMPETITION – COMING SOON!

Let’s give PNG a reading culture

By Caroline Evari

PORT MORESBY – The statement, ‘PNG does not have a reading culture’, kept popping up among authors and publishers gathered at the National Library during the National Book Fair in October 2019.

“What’s the point of writing and publishing books, if people are not reading them,” asked Professor Steven Winduo during the week, which had the hopeful theme, ‘PNG Books, PNG Knowledge, PNG Stories – Read PNG’.

Winduo’s was a tough statement for me as a new author and a person passionate about promoting writing and publishing in Papua New Guinea.

At the end of book week, I sat in a quiet place and reflected on everything that took place.

I decided that, as part of my journey promoting PNG literature, I would try to find the underlying cause of the claimed ‘not reading culture’.

I told myself that, in every school I visit to talk about writing and reading, I would see if they had a school library, check if the library had a variety of books, find out if the teachers had an active reading and writing program with their students and determine any additional challenges.

My goal: I believe a writer’s job is not only to point out problems but offer solutions.

During my recent travel to Popondetta, I visited six schools – Popondetta Secondary, Resurrection Primary, Resurrection Elementary, Inonda Primary, Higaturu Oil Palm International and Waseta Primary.

Higaturu receives support from the oil palm company and is an outstanding school in terms of classrooms, teaching and ancillary staff.

It was much like other private schools I visited in Port Moresby like Paradise College, St Joseph’s International College, Sunrise Bethel School and the Caritas Secondary and Elementary Schools.

Popondetta Secondary has a library with books but cannot cater for its current student population. Inonda Primary also has a library but I could not have a look at it. Resurrection Primary, Resurrection Elementary and Waseta Primary do not have libraries.

As a result, very many students have no access to reading books. When books get donated, teachers take them home and over time they are stolen or misplaced.

So, although there may be books, storage is an issue because there are no libraries. The result is that students do not have access to them.

Out of 40 students I spoke with at Waseta Primary in the Sohe district, a 45-minute drive from Popondetta, only five knew how to read.

It was disappointing to learn that almost all Grade 8 students who sat for the recent national examinations did not know how to read and so could not do their exams.

Although the school has a library, they had to convert it into a classroom and the few books there were mostly encyclopedias. I wondered how a school accessible by road did not have a stocked library. I also wondered why almost 90% of students could not read and write simple English.

I thought of the schools out there in Musa, where the only access is by walking the bush tracks or dingy. I tried to reason, but nothing made sense.

It was interesting to observe that students whose schools had a decent library could interact with me by asking questions, nodding, smiling and responding to my questions whereas students from schools that had no library stared blankly at me as I spoke.

I learnt during my interaction with teachers that most students come to school without knowing how to read or write.

“Education begins at home,” one said. Parents need to play their role by imparting basic knowledge to their kids before sending them to school.

For parents in the cities and towns, we can say they may be inattentive to their children’s needs; for parents in remote areas, it is because they themselves cannot read and write.

In Popondetta, the Anglican church provides adult literacy programs and it also may translate English into local languages to make learning easier.

The teacher to student ratio is around 1:40 and in most cases one teacher teaches two classes at the same time making it difficult for students to remain focused and dedicated.

Most teachers do not receive ongoing training or support, and as a result lack motivation.

As I stood in front of the students and stressed the importance of reading and writing, I realised that they had nowhere to go to find a good book to read.

Books with colour and a lot of artwork. Books that are attractive, books that could make them smile, laugh, sing and even dance.

Books that could help them develop their minds and fill them with imagination. Books that could change their entire world.

Some students ran after me asking me for books, but I only had a few copies and they were all donated. I fought back the tears that wanted to roll down my cheeks and promised I’d do what I can to bring more books to them.

When the 2017 Crocodile Prize survey of provincial participation came out, there were only two writers from Oro Province. It is among the lower provinces in PNG in terms of development, and perhaps the worst in terms of education.

On average, five or six students make it past Grade 12 to get to university.

Those of us fortunate to go to school in Port Moresby can make use of avenues to get decent certification.

Those back at home find comfort in drinking home-brew, smoking marijuana and getting involved in petty crimes (boys) while girls get married at a young age or fall pregnant with no hope for their own future.

I distributed the remaining books Phil Fitzpatrick had given me for the schools I visited. And I prayed this was not my last trip as a writer from the province.

My solutions to address the lack of a reading culture is for the government to focus on:

  • building more libraries across the country
  • purchasing books to fully stock these libraries
  • a curriculum encouraging students to read books and submit reviews (forming part of their assessment)
  • supporting the Crocodile Prize and rolling it out to each province

Books unlock knowledge and, without writers, there are no books.

Without libraries, the books are inaccessible.

Without libraries and without books, knowledge is inaccessible.

Original story can ne found here:

https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/11/lets-give-png-a-reading-culture.html

Suns and Laughters

15 NOVEMBER 2020

GREGORY BABLIS

PORT MORESBY

The sun rises at dawn
It peaks at noon
Then descends until hidden
A continuous cycle
Steadfast in its continuity.  
Laughter is food to the soul
It nourishes and warms the heart
It makes one feel younger 
in old age
And gives an air of experience 
when young.
Ever notice
How closely semantically related
And characteristically related
Sun is to son
And laughter is to daughter?
Sun is one letter change away
From son
Laughter is one letter change away
From daughter.
To all sons and daughters
Who are the strength and nourishment
Of their parents,
May the sun
Continue to shine on you
And laughter fill your days.

Settlements are necessary appendages to urban centers in developing countries

15 NOVEMBER 2020

GREGORY BABLIS

PORT MORESBY

The number of residential properties for sale in Port Moresby is growing, and fast. Not all of these structures are constructed according to laws and building standards though. Many of the houses are built on land that has not been legally acquired. Rather, quasi-legal land arrangements are executed in the shifting shadow of government, and the government does little to correct the situation. In this era its reach is limited. Political leaders tend not to fulfil past promises before opening their mouths to sweet-talk the people with new promises. These people are tired of too many unfulfilled promises, too much empty talk. Enforcing laws and standards has been a problem for all those who have ruled Papua and New Guinea. The Germans used a network of officers called kiaps, luluais and tultuls to administer their territory. The Australians used a revised version of the German system. From these colonial administrations, Papuans and New Guineans inherited a system in which power is exercised by legalised coercion within the modern western system of government.

The residential issues in Port Moresby cannot be contained or managed efficiently by the National Housing Corporation or the National Capital District (NCD) administrations. People need houses now, not in five to ten years’ time. Sub-standard houses are plentiful. I bought a sub-standard house in 2012 and renovated it up to standard, or at least to what I consider decent living conditions. My house is connected to water and electricity. However, I remain unsure, yet certain, that I do not own the land on which my house stands. My incomplete address – House # 583, Section 2219, Kela Mountain, Moitaka Ridge, 9 Mile, NCD, 121 – does not include an allotment number, which should form part of the legal title and is allocated after surveying. Powes Parkop, Governor of NCD, pledged to fix these problems, via his Settlement Upgrading Scheme, but that stalled a few years ago. One or two signs advertising the project are still up. As long as these signs remain, he will not forget his promise. Right? At the 2017 general election, the people returned Parkop to his seat. Things should pick up again now. Right? If the recent 14 Mile evictions are anything to go by, the good Governor is prioritizing so called “development” projects over the needs and rights of people to shelter and to owning homes.

The traditional landowners of 9 Mile are the Koiari. From the 1950s, people from the Gulf migrated to the area to work in the big quarry. In the 1980s, people from the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea came to settle as the settlement area grew. I bought my house from an old man from Simbu in the central highlands. He moved to Bush Wara, an emerging settlement in the 9 Mile area that is now competing for land with 9 Mile Cemetery, as both expand. The dead need land space as much as the living.

9 Mile is so named because it is 9 miles (14.5 kilometres) from downtown Port Moresby. The colonists measured out from the centre of town. In Lae is a settlement called 14 Mile. Goroka has a 4 Mile market. Madang has 7 Mile. You get the picture. At 8 Mile in Port Moresby, Kennedy Estate is being developed, one of a number of new legal “settlements” in the area. This estate is being built privately, not by the government. The developer organises building permits, occupancy certificates, land titles and all other necessary documentation for the first home buyer. The only problem with Kennedy Estate is that it is next to Jackson’s Airport and directly under the landing path for all incoming aircrafts. How did the developer get a permit to build there? Why didn’t the National Airports Corporation (NAC) contest the plans? It seems that city planners and relevant government agencies have not been communicating with each other. Although in the case of Kennedy Estate, the NAC may have taken for granted the fact that airports can now be built nearer to residential suburbs because of improvements in aircraft engine designs that make them less noisy than they used to be.

Is the increasing number of residential estates and the often comprising semi-legal, sub-standard residences, really a sign of development and progress? Yes and no, I would say. If the government cannot provide proper housing options for people in a timely fashion then how does it satisfy this basic human necessity? Settlements become a necessary appendage in a developing country when the government cannot cater for the population densities required of urban centers.

Slow Down By Caroline Evari

Life can be on the fast lane for most people. It could be depressing and stressful. This poem is a great reminder to all of us to slow down and enjoy life while we can:

Stop
Take a deep breath
Relax
Calm down
Think
Recollect your thoughts
Sleep
Rest your muscles
Eat
Regain your energy
Drink
Motivate yourself
Slow down

No need to juggle it all
It doesn’t matter if you’re trailing behind
Not every problem can be solved in one day
Not everyone can be saved in a day
Slow down

A wound takes time to heal
A broken heart takes time to mend
A seed takes time to grow
All your chores don’t have to be completed today
Let them wait if they have to
Slow down

You don’t have to please them all
You don’t have to be like them all
Work with your pace
Save your sanity
Save your health
Save your energy
Slow down

There is more to life then work, work, work
There is more to life then worry, worry, worry
Slow down

Have fun while you can
Laugh and be merry
Take your time
You are alone in this race
You have no one to beat
Slow down

Kiluwe, oh Kiluwe: a song of mist and ice

Michael Dom

It is a rare pleasure to come across a poem which rises above the common, well beyond the ordinary, far from the expected, one which soars and, in doing so, lifts us up with it, allowing us to live inside it, then stand beside it and to marvel at the grandeur we behold.

Samuel Lucas Kafugili has presented us with one such poem in Kiluwe, oh Kiluwe.

That poem was extracted from his very soul; it is a song of mist and ice from the ancient high mountain valley of Tambul-Nebilyer.

The view from the base of ‘Murmur Pass’

Reading this poem I can smell the fresh air and feel its bite, taste the teary blue sky burning my eyes and watch the soft dappled sunlight weeping in the green grass.

I am standing there in amidst the sweet potato mounds, the Irish potato and broccoli, the cabbage and carrot which grow plentifully in the rich black volcanic soil, where the strident pine and yar trees whisper to each other.

What a glorious scene to behold Tambul Valley from ‘Murmur Pass’, to swoop down the winding road into the valley, while the mountains leap into the air beside us.

And there he stands, Kiluwe, like some ancient chieftain surveying his land.

“Ah, mighty steaming Kiluwe,

Your peak standing in grandeur

Mastering the winds and ice

And sovereign over all we see”

This is a great poem.

It is a poem which will be read, recited and recalled long after our bones rest in the soil of our birthplaces.

I have followed Samuel’s poems published on Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude and, as a fellow poet, I can say that when he wrote this poem Samuel had approached the apex of a mountain he has been intrepidly scaling.

Kiluwe leaps beyond his other work, such as Deceitful beauty of a lassie, The power of Muddle Mind and The sentinel is always vigilant.

In all these poems Samuel maintains a non-rhyming quatrain form throughout and each stanza is a box containing distinctive expressions of related aspects on the subject being explored.

It is his focus on crafting a compact stanza which has allowed the poet to concentrate his efforts with diction, phrasing and concision, to be precise and accurate, and to have the best word which is the right word.

Swooping down the winding road to Tambul District

When I compare the first stanza of The sentinel is always vigilant to Kiluwe, oh Kiluwe there is immediate recognition of the value of simplicity and selectivity.

Whereas, The sentinel makes a bland opening, “It’s dangerous to be in precarious space / That allows impairment of our being”, Kiluwe bursts into our eyes, “Mt Giluwe, oh Giluwe / Kiluwe in the mother lingua franca”.

Comparing these verse segments we see that the use of longer words drags the lines on but the use of shorter words spliced with the foreign term, lingua franca, perfectly balances the deft and necessary conversion of Giluwe to Kiluwe – Samuel reclaims the name in one swoop!

The sentinel does address a different subject though and, as Lindsay Bond commented, it is one which is “serious and descriptive of real events and adverse imaginings”. It is a sentimental poem, one of intellectual consideration rather than a poem of raw emotive power (naïve) beneath a veneer of skill which, to me, Kiluwe exemplifies.

The second stanza of Muddle Mind, really does muddle the mind, as the rest of the stanzas also do; “A tangle mind fearful, / Human inflated badly, / The power of muddled mind, / Disappearing sagacity of permissive.”

It takes time to disentangle this poem and that is probably the aim: the stanzas mirror the subject.

But the second stanza of Kiluwe is a mental explosion; “And snowflakes that puff out, / and ice, the spray-gunned ice, / Sending away the glacial drops / that slide into the mist”.

This stanza is high magic executed right in front of our eyes – no mirrors used.

As a poet I am very jealous of this charmed verse and will hoard it in my treasure chest of inspirations.

In Deceitful beauty the fifth stanza is the very last and although it provides a vivid image the metaphor is familiar; “Shining bright like a perfect jewel, / But flickering, dimming after nightfall, / Now seen in all its broken splendor, / Filled atop with regret and remorse.”

It is a complex depiction of bad character trait and the results of deception upon the soul of a person.

The stanza is satisfying. It is an expected conclusion.

But in Kiluwe the fifth stanza is a restart not an ending to the poem, and the imagery encapsulates the entire valley into the glass-ball of the verse; “The fog that then shelters the cold, / Causing nature to be an ice-box, / Chilling all that it comes to meet / as it freezes and fogs its way”.

Fog shelters the cold? Yes, it does!

Nature becomes an ice-box?  This is a solid metaphor.

And nature freezes and fogs its way to meet you.

We are tested by nature at the extremity. That also is where life begins in earnest.

And it is where great poetry is born.

Voices of Independence: echoing back with nothing new to say

Michael Dom (August 2017)

In Samoa there are many people who recall with only partly contrived awe that some of their early national missionaries were eaten by New Guineans. While holidaying there recently I gladly explained to a few people who asked me about this event that ‘we ate only the bad ones’. But maybe I should not have been so glib.

Voices of Independence – New Black Writing from Papua New Guinea, edited by Ulli Beier, 1980, St. Martin’s Press New York

It’s a relatively inoffensive question however the agenda their query relates to – reports that PNG people are un-baptized, uncivilized, tribal cannibals – is a familiar frustration to many of us. We’ve been independent for over four decades and still we get these ‘negative images / printed in the media’ about our far gone past.

We know that all of the above reports are not true today (large grain of salt applied here). But there’s a hazy image which sometimes projects itself through the mists of time and into the casual meet-and-greet conversations wherever Papua New Guineans roam abroad. Or maybe it’s just me?

The Western media lies about cannibalism in PNG. The guy who ate a new born baby was actually possessed by an evil spirit. The burning of Leniata in the centre of a town market place was not an act of savagery because she was a Jezebel and the whole community witnessed it, and besides which she wasn’t eaten. Mt Hagen town will rise from the ashes and ruins and become the Turkey of the highlands. God wills it!

If those singular news stories captured the attention of international media and social network audiences then it may be little wonder if the cannibalism question pops up in the casual remarks of those folks in more elevated circles too.

Turnbull: “Hey, Pete, your people aren’t going to eat me when I arrive in PNG are they?”

O’Neil: “No way bro. You’re not that appetizing.”

Turnbull: “Oh, that’s good then, I suppose. What about those boat people on Manus?”

O’Neil: “Nah, we can’t eat them because Roy Trivedy is watching. And I tell you what, after this year’s election mess nobody will have an appetite to eat any foreign body, except in the nicest possible way.”

Turnbull: “Pete, you’re a Master theft, I mean chef.”

O’Neil: “Watch it mate. You never know who’s in my kitchen cabinet and not even God knows what I might cook up for you. We’ve just had some tribal fights too.”

In truth, most people do know better about cannibalism in PNG but those newsworthy tidbits are still an awfully interesting story with which to strike up a conversation. I often enjoy these little engagements.

Our cannibalizing past left a lasting impression in the Samoan psyche and provided my visit with a distinct and juicy flavor.

While the recollection of these historical misadventures may provide a fascinating and far less scandalous anecdote today it nonetheless remains suggestive that not much is really known about the broader evolution in PNG over a number of generations. We can help to cure this unintentional ignorance by engaging in small talk and talking about bigger things. (Alternatively we can write a fictional story which tells the truth about us.)

For instance, the Kumuls, oops! Scratch that. It’s Rugby Union which dominates in the islands, not Rugby League. And we were…still not present at the world cup this year. Anyway Samoa lost to Wales on home-ground so there!

PNG on the other hand hosted the biggest and bestest Pacific Games ever, in the whole wide world of sports. It cost us bucket loads of money and made us millions more, but hang on…we’re still awaiting official confirmation of the actual income generated and who got how much for what. I’m sure it must have been up there in the millions for paying off the billions in loans. The important thing is that we won!

Don’t forget that we created the Bank of South Pacific, which probably works with a third of the Pacific economy, and even though we still have to fly via Australia, with a transit visa, just to get to Vanuatu or Samoa, that’s a different think – neither incorrect notions about cannibalism nor intermittent and brutal violence has anything to do with tourism, business and air routes. Clearly it’s the airlines which are to blame.

Also, despite our low exchange rate and poor GDP, PNG is the largest economy in the Pacific. Fiji and Vanuatu, our smaller, much, much smaller Melanesian brothers may be richer with much, much fewer resources, although well connected internationally from the middle of the Pacific Ocean and having relatively strong governments, they still don’t have the great, great, great, really great big-men leaders we have – and size matters, and notwithstanding height, because Peter is our most vertically challenged big-man ever.

And we got lots of money. O’Neil spends it all for us and borrows some more, but we got even more money coming soon to a BSP branch near you, so we good. We got this. Our 300 LNG ships are coming in soon – “Go tell a passerby / that here by Spartan law we lie”, and lie.

On one occasion when I took refuge in the National Library in Apia the same never-endingly negative storyline seemed to follow me upstairs to the Pacific Collection.  Right there what small delight I had taken in correcting the fake news and providing much needed alternative facts ended abruptly. And it ended in my favorite zone.

Relaxing in what I had thought was the safety and sanctity of the library, while going about my favorite pastime of exploring for poems, I came across a book that was an exhilarating find but which soon led to hours of rambling, frustrated thought.

When reading the foreword to ‘Voices of Independence’I took a step thirty-seven years back in time and arrived exactly at where I am today. Nothing much seems to have changed.

But you decide.

“Political events have obviously made a critical examination of colonialism less relevant. Instead, there is already disillusionment with the national government; its conservatism, its easy acceptance of foreign business, its timid stand towards Indonesia, and the resultant “betrayal” of the West Irian freedom fighters. Above all there is disillusionment with the power-hungry bureaucracy and the increasing pompousness and Westernization of the so-called elite.

“The writer’s position has become more difficult and more ambiguous since independence. In the late sixties the young angry writers were seen as natural allies by Papua New Guinea’s politicians. The writers then helped them to form public opinion and political consciousness and exercised some influence on the stance of leading politicians. But now the government is sensitive to criticism, and many leading politicians fail to distinguish between issues and personalities. Writers on the whole have been tolerated rather than encouraged. There are few intellectuals in parliament, and the leaders of the nation are pragmatic men not given to ideologies. Many of the younger people have found the government uninspiring and mildly unsympathetic to their own aims and ambitions, but they have not espoused alternative political ideologies. Mostly the writers have seen themselves as social critics rather than political rebels. During the years since self-government many of them have taken an unsentimental look at their own communities, both rural and urban. The unflinching way in which many have learned to look at themselves is one of the healthiest symptoms of Papua New Guinea society today.” Ulli Beier (1980)

At least Ulli ended his foreword on a positive note and one on which I hope the writers, poets, essayists and novelists, emerging through the Crocodile Prize also persevere towards. More so, I sincerely hope that our new crop of political leaders hears our voices.

We are not the disembodied echoes of a senseless state; we are the independent voices of a free nation.

Article first published on Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude. https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2017/08/voices-of-independence-echoing-back-with-nothing-new-to-say.html

Give back PNG

Michael Dom

Read the article by Frank Senge Kolma

There was a young leader named Marape
Who served in O’Neill’s bagarapment
But when push came to shove
And he had had more than enough
He took back PNG without foment

If the aim now is to keep taking back
I don’t know why we are being so slack
Because Beijing doesn’t care
And Canberra won’t dare
Tell us how to be Christian, rich and Black

And where are those God fearing leaders
Who bowed and scraped for the APEC bleeders?
Seems Jehovah is least on their minds
When they sign for more logging, more mines
They keep selling us all down the river

Since the last PM taunted our laws
And sold everything behind closed doors
All those riches we can’t take back today
So better to stop giving them away
And treating our people like paupers

But Marape says take back PNG
And then hands out all the car keys
For Flying Spurs and Maseratis
Look instead at what he will do
If his words and promises are empty

Now when we say take back PNG
And cheer Independence with glee
There are difficult things we must do
Ask with sincerity, who really are we?
And how is it we keep our Black history?

Stop taking and give back PNG.

Original poem posted at https://www.pngattitude.com/2019/10/give-back-png.html