Now in its third year, the Rivers Award this year takes the theme 'What I Was Told'
& it offers K5,000 in prizes for Papua New Guinean writers
Help distribute free Crocodile Prize anthologies to PNG
Now in its third year, the Rivers Award this year takes the theme 'What I Was Told'
& it offers K5,000 in prizes for Papua New Guinean writers
Help distribute free Crocodile Prize anthologies to PNG
HERE on a beautiful and tranquil 500 square metre block two kilometres upstream from Denglangu Catholic Mission Station, live more than 50 special children with their guardian Martin Tine and his wife Gertrude.
They are orphans and children without parents and their home is the Irugl Mother of Life Centre (MOLC).
MOLC is located on the side of Papua New Guinea’s highest mountain, Mt Wilhelm, in the Gembogl District of Simbu Province.
It is a three-hour 4-wheel drive vehicle north from Kundiawa on a rough road that follows the Warasimbu River.
THE Abbott Government will reject a push by Port Moresby to make it easier for Papua New Guineans to travel across the Torres Strait into Australia, fearing the move could increase drug trafficking and the spread of tropical diseases.
But prime minister Tony Abbott has dismissed calls for a beefed-up Customs, Immigration and Federal Police facility in the Torres Strait any time soon, declaring “there is no crisis on our border”.
PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill called for the Torres Strait Treaty to be renegotiated to allow his citizens easier access to Australian islands and to stay for longer.
FROM molluscs and monkeys to wolves and whales, a number of rare species thought to have gone extinct have been rediscovered, including a handful this year.
Researchers around the world have laboured for months and years to find these “living fossils,” which they say can help scientists determine how species have evolved over milleniums.
But with each new rediscovery and sigh of relief, they stress that none of these animals are out of the woods yet – at least not so long as humans keep destroying the woods or overfishing the waters they live in.
THE Crocodile Prize awards event posters hit Kundiawa town early on Thursday.
Big and colourful, they were pinned to public notice boards and in government buildings and drew large crowds (see picture).
Very soon the stories were spreading about the Crocodile Prize awards event to be held in the Simbu capital on 18-19 September, just after Papua New Guinea’s Independence Day. I was also asked to go on air to be interviewed by Radio Simbu and National Radio.
PRIME Minister Peter O'Neill says his government is keeping to its economic and social agenda despite having to adjust to the downturn in commodity prices.
Mr O'Neill says Papua New Guinea is enjoying an historically strong period of economic expansion, even after cutting growth for this year to 11% from 15.5%.
He told a PNG investment and infrastructure summit in Brisbane that, like other countries, his government is having to adjust to global factors beyond its control.
An entry in the 2015 Rivers Award
For Writing on Peace & Harmony
Passed on through generations
Is the forefathers’ oral tradition
The legend started long ago
Then it walked miles until now
It was truly philosophical
It was moral and ethical
It contained the true wisdom
To be written on the human heart
PAPUA New Guinea is fighting to throw off the perception its economy is ridden with fraud, corruption and money laundering, with prime minister Peter O’Neill insisting his cabinet does no “favours”.
Addressing prospective investors in Brisbane yesterday, Mr O’Neill said legislation would be introduced in October to establish an independent corruption watchdog “free of any political influence, tribal or regional influence”.
“Of course, as many of you know, in Papua New Guinea, there is always a lot of finger-pointing going on,” he told the Papua New Guinea Advantage international investment summit.
THE cemetery at Rebiamul in Mt Hagen has many interesting graves.
The pioneer Danny Leahy, of First Contact fame, is buried here together with some members of his family.
Fr William Ross, Bishop George Bernarding and several other missionaries share the same cemetery.
Pilot Henry Hoff, art-collector Tara Monahan, local identities Sir Wamp Wan and Ninji Kama, and businessman Wally Perdacher are among other notables buried here.
THE current El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean is disrupting food production in Papua New Guinea and Indonesian Papua.
Whether the current El Niño event will continue to develop for the rest of 2015 is uncertain, but likely. Nor is there a sure way of predicting the severity of food shortages in PNG from the severity of an El Niño event.
But already this year the impacts on food production in PNG have a worrying similarity to the way events unfolded in 1997, when food and water shortages were more serious than they had been since 1941 and possibly since 1914.
El Nino loves the terrain of Simbu
For five consecutive months
The sun consumes the running water
Even the plants wilted
The earthworms struggling to survive
Streams and creeks no longer running
The Simbu people are mourning
For not having fresh water
Even plants are starving for water
Animals are searching for fresh water
When the River Destroys by Samantha Kusari, Pukpuk Publications, 102 pages, ISBN: 978-1517034290, Available from Amazon Books, paperback US$3.59 plus postage, Kindle ebook US$1.00.
UNIVERSITY student Samantha Kusari has just published her first book. It is called When the River Destroys and is a novel loosely based on the early childhood of her father.
Samantha is from Yagusa (Fore) village in the Okapa District of the Eastern Highlands Province. She is 23 years old and in her final year at the University of Goroka studying Linguistics and Literature.
She is currently undertaking an internship with SIL International at Ukarumpa, EHP, as a Language Documentation intern in the Language Resource Department.
YESTERDAY was Repentance Day in Papua New Guinea, when highlights include the public burning of traditional carvings used in what the organisers call “idol worship and witchcraft”.
The day also, bizarrely, featured a national collection of money as an “Aliyah” offering — to promote the migration of Jewish people to Israel, which some American evangelical Christians view as a prerequisite for the second coming of Christ.
The day was a public holiday, marked by “prayer ceremonies” across the country.
ALL that stands between Australia and Papua New Guinea is an understaffed, dilapidated demountable building serving as a Customs office, federal government MP Warren Entsch has warned.
Mr Entsch, whose far north Queensland electorate takes in the Torres Strait, will today take Health Minister Sussan Ley and Attorney-General George Brandis to one of Australia’s most northerly points, the remote Saibai Island, to push his case for a greater government presence on the porous border.
From the shores of Saibai, the mangrove-lined PNG coastline about 4km away is clearly visible. Tens of thousands of journeys are made each year between the PNG coastal villages and the outer Torres Strait Islands, under the Torres Strait Treaty signed by the governments in the 1970s, but Mr Entsch is concerned the border is also letting through drugs and disease.
THE Papua New Guinea highlands have been hit by the worst drought in 20 years with two million people affected including 1.3 million at great risk.
Prime minister Peter O’Neill says that climate change is exacerbating drought and frost conditions which are likely to worsen.
But he claims the PNG government has been “preparing for months” for the possibility of such an event.
"This drought has the potential to be worse than 1997 and 1998," Mr O’Neill said, referring to a shocking drought which claimed the lives of an estimated 500 people.
Pastoral letter to all the faithful of Vanimo Diocese, Sandaun Province
WE were surprised to read in The National newspaper that, on 26 August, there will be a Solemn Assembly program which “includes burning of objects used in idol worship and witchcraft as well as collecting the Aliyah Offering".
Since many Catholics came to us asking for clarification, we are obliged to give some explanations and directions to our Catholic people regarding what they found on pages 32 and 41 of the newspaper.
We understand that this is not a program of the Government of Papua New Guinea. It appears to be a private program and personal initiative of somebody who wants to use the name of the honorable office of the Speaker of Parliament to promote private beliefs.
THE United States Embassy in Port Moresby says Papua New Guinea police must do more to stop senseless acts of violence.
The Embassy issued a statement deploring a brutal attack on three women and one man last week in Mendi in Southern Highlands.
It says the public humiliation, beating, and burning of these individuals with hot rods following accusations of sorcery in the villages of Kave and Kumin is reprehensible.
The Embassy says police must investigate and prosecute those responsible and it says the appropriate resources and attention needs to be directed at addressing these crimes.
THE overwhelming number of entries in this year’s Writing for Children Award in the Crocodile Prize has inspired Paga Hill Development Company to assist publish and distribute a special book of children’s stories.
Many of the more than 50 children’s stories entered in the Crocodile Prize contest will be published as a special edition children’s book and distributed to as many Papua New Guinean schools as possible.
The children’s anthology, an initiative spearheaded by the Crocodile Prize Organisation and edited by Ben Jackson (pictured with writer Martyn Namorong), aims to provide Papua New Guinean schools with greater access to home-grown literature and to encourage reading from a young age.
THE Melanesian way of keeping silent, or not speaking out against leaders and their wrongdoings, promotes a conspiracy of silence and is in fact condoning violence in all its forms.
Widespread and entrenched complacency towards combating violence against women is one outcome.
In Melanesian society, at least among most tribes and clans, the male holds dominion, status and power. In most cases women hold limited or severely controlled rights.
Therefore, by default, to combat the negative aspects of the Melanesian Way is to come up against male domination and male oriented/originating systems of governing society.
In order to address such serious social issues, violence against women should also be a political agenda. Turning a mature 40 is the opportune time to make it so.
The reality: women provide 50% of the voting population and yet their voices are relatively less heard, both through socio-political agenda and political leadership.
This poem is aimed at improving that aspect of social and political development of our country and towards creating a more just, equitable and law abiding nation.
I am regularly amazed by the way in which the supposedly well-educated and well advised leadership groups across the world fail to understand the lessons of economic history.
Typically, the most egregious errors occur when a leadership group believes it has discovered the one true path to economic success, whether this be unbridled "casino capitalism" or a "command economy" or some variation on either or, as in China's case, a bit of both.
Once they have discovered the "perfect" economic model, the leadership groups then proceed to implement it, usually on a grand scale because this suits them politically.
THE list of rorts sounds like a spoof on corruption in tin-pot third-world countries, and it’s what led foreign minister Julie Bishop to shake up AusAID in late 2013.
The head of Papua New Guinea’s Law and Justice Secretariat Program gives himself and his staff a 23% pay rise without authorisation, duchesses departing workmates with over-the-top payouts, and hands out contracts to companies he owns, for a fraud of Australian taxpayer dollar aid worth about $600,000.
Nearly 200 tonnes of Australian food aid reaches famine-ravaged Somalia and is handed over to the World Food Program in Mogadishu, only to be completely looted, with the program confirming the loss two years later.
THE University of Papua New Guinea’s business school has changed its name to reflect a new emphasis on public policy as part of a groundbreaking initiative to train the next generation of PNG leaders.
The new School of Business and Public Policy will be strengthened with additional academic staff and a new faculty building under a partnership between the Papua New Guinean and Australian governments.
The rebranded school forms part of the new Pacific leadership and governance precinct, an initiative of both countries to produce ethical and accountable leaders who will improve services across PNG.
THE Rivers Award for writing about peace and harmony enters its third year with the founder, Val Rivers, again offering K5,000 in cash prizes for original writing on this year’s theme, “What I Was Told”.
Articles, essays or poetry must address the theme by writers telling they have learned from others about how to live a peaceful and harmonious life in Papua New Guinea.
This may include traditional stories offering guidance about peace and harmony, present day advice about these issues are managed, true stories about conflict that has been resolved, policies that could be implemented to lead to a more harmonious society.
Edited extract from an academic paper by Florence Jonduo, ‘Does ulu manjeh (bilum making) and its traditional patterns have any significance in contemporary Ulighembi? A case study on Ulighembi Village, East Sepik Province’
IN today’s lucrative global traffic in art and culture, the Western art world recognizes the traditional village arts of Papua New Guinea to be masterpieces of aesthetic power and meaning.
In traditional PNG every design and pattern made on objects such as bilums, spears and carvings has a connection with the people that make them.
While the general patterns appear to bespeak strongly persistent cultural norms particular to original settlement groups still identifiable by their languages.
These designs and patterns signify the identity of a tribe or clan and are very much valued by the clan members. These designs also tell of great wonders or of myths which the clan’s forefathers have achieved and show how valuable their clans are.
MEN in Enga were like a banana tree that is bent, never to grow straight again. They kept their distance from women and never involved them in decision making. Women were subservient to men always.
I was told in the hausman never to be alone with a woman for lengthy periods of time. “Even if you know the woman is your brother’s wife, never be alone with her. You don’t know what your brother will think.”
Some years ago, one day in March, I waved down a taxi at the market near the docks in Cardiff, Wales. When it stopped, I didn’t know if I should let it pass me by. To my absolute horror, I had seen a woman sitting behind the steering wheel.
IT snowed every winter in the place where I came from.
As kids we used to climb to the top of a nearby hill, make a big snowball and send it rolling down the slope.
As it rolled it picked up more snow and got bigger and bigger until it finally crashed in spectacular fashion in the valley below.
It may intrigue you that I was once caught in a snowstorm in Papua New Guinea.
A slap on the cheek, a punch in the gut, getting slashed with a machete: finding a woman who hasn’t experienced intimate partner abuse is tough in Papua New Guinea.
Until just two years ago, domestic violence wasn’t even considered a criminal offence.
Although physical mistreatment is punishable by fines and jail time, a slow shift in societal norms has left women and children vulnerable.
Hoping to offer support and options to families in danger, a free domestic violence hotline was launched on Wednesday.
BOUGAINVILLE President John Momis has condemned a recent outbreak of violence in Buka Town in which local people attacked and ransacked a business house.
“As both Bougainvilleans and Christians we cherish our values of tolerance, unity and the peaceful resolution of disputes,” Dr Momis said. “This incident does not represent what we stand for and I condemn the perpetrators and their actions outright.”
Dr Momis also congratulated the Bougainville Police Service’s response to the incident noting this was a sign of how the rule of law has matured in Bougainville.
Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare’s address to the 2015 Waigani Seminar
IN celebrating the past, let me thank the creators of this forum that was born eight years before our nation.
While academics were busy establishing this platform, my colleagues and I were busy creating our political platform Pangu Pati, which was born on 13 June 1967.
For the architects of the Waigani Seminar, I know that it has been a long and often difficult challenge ensuring its growth, relevance and continuity into the future.
I hope the work put into the papers that are presented here are not collecting dust but are being used as source materials to allow readers to celebrate the past, understand the present and make calculated plans for the future through effective leadership that is guided by values, principles and adherence to the law.
SHE is an orphan girl, 16, maybe 17 years old. Her adoptive father brought her to this little cottage inside the grounds of the Goroka Hospital, in Papua New Guinea’s remote Eastern Highlands province.
Because a couple of weeks ago, when Queensland was thrashing New South Wales in the rugby league State of Origin, some men from her village watched it on TV, drank some beer, and decided to celebrate by dragging her into a coffee plantation and gang-raping her.
In this month’s Una Voce, the journal of the PNG Association of Australia, there is an article, ‘The PNG Crest and Flag’ by Geoff Littler. There is much more to this story, which we can reveal here…..
BECAUSE there was no course or school for graphic or commercial art in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea (as it was known then), I decided to introduce one; which I did with the help of the Adult Education Society.
There was a fee for persons outside our Department of Information and Extension Services but I offered my Papua New Guinean staff free access and ran periodic lessons for them during working hours.
THE charred foundations are all that is left of the homes that made up Kenemote village in the mountainous Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea.
For the past four and a half months a tribal war has raged between four clans of the Kintex tribe who are armed with high-powered guns, as well as bows and arrows.
Nine people are dead, including a small boy, and most dwellings have been burned to the ground, while women and children are traumatised.
“We [the women] are really affected because our lives are at risk, we are not free to go to the garden to look for food and the children cannot go to school; there is no freedom and no safety,” Aulo Nareo, a resident of Kenemote, told IPS.
THE aviation sector in Papua New Guinea is set for a major shake-up, with government plans to privatise a stake in the national flag carrier, Air Niugini, later this year.
This should support Port Moresby’s growing role as a regional air traffic hub, as new routes are added and more airlines extend services to the capital.
Last September the government announced it would offer a stake of around 50% in Air Niugini to private investors, a plan confirmed earlier this year by prime minister Peter O'Neill, who said the sale would begin towards the end of 2015.
THE city of Port Moresby is undergoing an expansion unrivalled in the history of Papua New Guinea.
The last time I was in Moresby, back in 2010, the O’Neill government was embarking on some huge infrastructure projects.
Millions of kina was subsequently spent on upgrading sporting facilities for the Pacific Games and the huge Erima flyover bridge, a monumental structure that can take your breath away, is now complete.
Well, that’s a bonus for the residents of Port Moresby. These urban projects will propel it into a modern metropolis.
FRANCIS Hualupmomi (PNG Attitude, 18 August) chose to take a "glass half full" view of Papua New Guinea’s progress since gaining independence in 1975.
He has some grounds for doing so, with PNG remaining a vibrant if somewhat idiosyncratic democracy, the rule of law still honoured (if not always observed) and with a reasonable revenue stream derived from a steadily growing economy.
However, a less optimistic person might note that perhaps 90% of the people continue to survive by following their ancient subsistence based way of life, with the sometimes dubious wonders of modernity being well beyond their grasp.
The slight improvement in infant mortality and the literacy rate referred to by Francis hardly constitutes a ringing endorsement of the PNG government's efforts in relation to either health or education.
THE drumming on the tables was getting louder. It was a sweltering afternoon and the corrugated iron roof didn’t help much as it radiated heat throughout the dining room.
Come on prefect on duty, get on with the prayer, we’re hungry. The door swung open and the prefect stepped in. There was silence.
“Bow your heads and let us say grace.” The Grade 9 and Grade 11 students chanted in unison, “For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful, Amen.”
Trina lifted her head and looked around the table. “You serve the food,” Norma said and she shyly handed Trina the serving spoon. “You’re the senior now, it’s just us now."
I am informed that there is rising anger from some in the Papua New Guinea government towards me and a few people who are ringing alarm bells about our bleak future.
It is a future of drought and disaster: fiscal nightmares; corrupt financial management of public funds; cartels running key agencies; corrupt public servants still in positions of power; a lack of justice for the honest man; exemption from punishment for evil.
Look around. It’s common sense. Something is profoundly wrong.
Solid Oil by Russell Hunter, Cambridge Books, Cambridge Maryland, 2014, 290pp, ISBN: 978-1-61386-238-4, Paperback US$18 from Amazon Books
I seem to have read quite a few books over the past year that are set in Papua New Guinea and which could be called ‘thrillers’.
My definition of a ‘thriller’ is where a writer sets up a situation that requires a resolution to avert some sort of dire consequence. Central to this are heroes and villains and a suspenseful narrative that carries the reader along at a fairly fast pace.
Of those I’ve read so far none are particularly unique to Papua New Guinea and could be set almost anywhere in the third world. At best Papua New Guinea simply provides a particular type of exotic setting.
THE origin of Papua New Guinea’s aid program in the Pacific can be traced back to an announcement by former prime minister Bill Skate in 1997 of a grant scheme to assist Solomon Islands.
This pledge was made in the aftermath of the Sandline affair and was characterised at the time as a form of compensation for the spillover effects on Solomon Islands of the Bougainville crisis.
Reports vary as to the size (somewhere in the range of K20–40 million) and the period of the commitment, and indeed it’s difficult to trace the extent to which the commitment was ever fulfilled.
FOR the second year running, the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia has provided a significant grant to assist publish the Crocodile Prize Anthology.
And we want our readers to help distribute it.
If you meet a few conditions we will provide lucky PNG readers with 10 free copies of the 400-page Anthology to hand out freely to libraries, schools, universities, hospitals, aid posts and other relevant places in the provinces and districts of Papua New Guinea.
Winners will also be permitted to keep a copy of the Anthology for themselves.
WHEN I met him in the United States, Barney Nelson, a jovial 72-year old, told me where his friends were killed in New Guinea.
Lt Barney Nelson was a veteran of the war in the Pacific – and he was to become my instant hero.
After all those years Barney still remembered two Melanesian Pidgin words - kaikai (food) and meri (woman).
He rang me quite unexpectedly one morning as I began to settle down to work at The Plain Dealer, a newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio. He was excited and fired questions at machine-gun pace.
“How are you doing? Where in New Guinea do you come from? Buna? Aitape? Is Port Moresby still the capital? Do you know Milne Bay? Is…”
“Now, wait a moment sir, how did you know my name?” I interrupted.
IT is well known that Papua New Guinea gained independence from Australia without bloodshed –something we must be proud of and thank God for.
Uniting a country with such diverse cultures and ethnic identities was a big challenge and that this has been achieved so far is very much due to our founding fathers.
We have had political mishaps along the way but our Constitution has held strong and we have been able to manage some testing issues.
Within the span of 40 years we have also made significant headway in a changing and challenging political and economic landscape.
MY train of thought has an incredibly annoying habit of steamrolling my brain just as I’m mid-task in the tedious duties of everyday life: tasks once started that, for my own blood pressure safety, be completed in one undertaking.
Pairing socks straight off the clothes line, rolling out a batch of green fondant icing or (as was today’s chore) mopping up the 15-metre trail of black shoe polish snaking its way across the cream tiles through an open plan townhouse.
Meanwhile my mind spins away, moving much faster and with greater concentration than the task at hand.
I can never be sure that this is due to the undiluted three-mix blend of household grade disinfectant or just the irrational anger that accompanies household chores and serves as my muse.
RECENT news about the devaluation of Chinese the yuan against the United States dollar should seriously concern the Papua New Guinea government given that China is one of our largest trading partners.
Since the Chinese economy began to cool off, the People’s Bank of China has devalued the Chinese currency in a bid to make Chinese exports cheaper.
The yuan is expected to continue depreciating unless Chinese authorities are satisfied the sliding economy has bottomed out.
The implication for PNG is that the kina will have to be devalued against the yuan to keep our exports competitive in Chinese markets.
The Chinese economy, which was projected to grow at 10% this year, is now forecast to top out at 7%. This means commodity prices will continue to tumble as Chinese demand takes a breather.
WELL, angels may fear to tread but I'm going to wade in.
Nobody in Papua New Guinea who’s hooked into the media could have missed the debate we’re having in Australia about whether same sex couples should be allowed to legally marry.
The Australian Constitution is non-committal on this point. It just talks about 'marriage', no gender being implied.
But the usual suspects have jumped on the bandwagon: the pro-gay brigade and the no-way religious righties.
OVER the next 50 years there is a 50% chance that Papua New Guinea could experience a severe natural disaster from earthquakes or cyclones with losses of around K2 billion and with almost 5,000 fatalities.
PNG is situated in one of the most hazard-prone regions of the planet and the complexity of its disaster management requires tailored solutions that weave science into the decision-making process.
Today the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management and the National Disaster Centre are hosting a disaster science information session for an audience of technical partners, key government agencies, development partners and media.
I wrote this poem for my people in Sandaun Province.
I love my home province.
As the saying goes, “Home is where the heart is”.
I watched as the sun set;
Burning the sky like a raging fire;
Its rays gleaming across the calm water;
As it slowly met the horizon.
The moon shone an orb of light;
Setting the night on fire;
As blazes were lit all around.
THE vice-chancellor of the PNG University of Technology, Prof Albert Schram (pictured), has told Radio New Zealand International that the PNG Treasury has announced that all universities will have their funds cut by 40% for the rest of 2015.
The disclosure follows recent independent analysis of the nation’s budget which, despite denials from prime minister Peter O’Neill, shows significant revenue problems.
Paradoxically, Mr O’Neill indicated last week that a slump in the economy would somehow be good for PNG. He agreed with ANZ Bank chief Mike Smith that the resources boom allowed PNG to paper over weaknesses in the system and so the downturn now is "not such a bad thing."
PAPUA New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill has warned the Australian government he will not back down on a plan to shift aid workers from employment with aid companies to direct contracts with PNG.
Mr O’Neill said he planned to use a regular ministerial meeting in November to force the overhaul of the status of all Australian aid workers in PNG in time to start the new system by the beginning of 2016.
"The posture of our government is not going to change," he said in an interview about the new plan which he said he had been pushing for some time.
EVERY glistening evening, as the sun set beneath the horizon of Manam Island, the Sepik lass would return home with her catch for dinner; part of her daily routine to provide fresh protein for the house.
While cooking the fish on the fire, a thought popped into her mind. “It would be a good idea to enrol in Grade 12 rather than doing daily house chores and fishing. These are not the only means of making a living, since education is a primary concern in this contemporary world,” she said to herself.
The Sepik Lass called the Simbu Man to her side at the fireplace in the kitchen.
“I feel I need to enrol for Grade 12 next year,” she told him. “Since life continues to progress and change, education is important.”