BY MICHAEL DOM
When we were still floating, “In the
currents / That swept this land”1, things
were a lot messier than they are now.
But, there were less of us to see that.
In fact, we didn’t know it was messy.
Much later it was different “For white man,
he came / And our place changed forever”.2
Well, mostly. Maybe we gave in too
easily and didn’t learn how to clean up
our own mess, or to not make one at all.
The question is “What happened back then!” 3
(?) Everything got white-washed in our pre-
Falcongate days. We hid the scandal
of ourselves and now for the life of
us (or our kids) we can’t figure it out!
So every five years we choose who is to
be in charge of ‘cleaning up the mess’4
left by those others before them. Funny
that, because there are familiar faces in
this crowd from the last clean-up crew.
And it’s always one mess or another.
But one learned friend says that that is
what we should expect from a vibrant
democracy: Individualism vs. Pluralism5.
Now we live in a mess created by that schism.
Do you get that sneaking doubt that
somehow you’re partly responsible
for the disorder too? I do. Maybe it’s just
me and I should check in at Laloki6.
I know for sure I didn’t check that box!
It’s spring-cleaning season again PNG, so if
we all get together we can clear out The Mob7
we put in charge. That may be a faint hope
but it’s only as weak as our smallest finger
that gets stained with the ink of our guilt.
We’ve been here on this Treasure Island8
for a long while. Not discounting the chaos
it’s time we made more than a scratch
on the pages of history. Time is ticking on,
so today, let’s make a mark not a mess.
1 Lines from A Rower’s Song a poem by Steven Edmund Winduo, from his book A Rower’s Song, Manui Publishers 2009, Port Moresby PNG.
2 Lines from White man’s war a poem by P. Naringi, published in The National newspaper Writer’s forum on 23 September 2011.
3 What happened back then is a poem by Lapieh Landu, published in The Crocodile Prize Literature 12 January 2012 on the website Keith Jackson & Co: PNG Attitude.
4 The most recently recycled political rhetoric regurgitated for public consumption.
5 See the essay Theoretical Underpinnings of Development in PNG by Samil Yapi Yanam, published in The Crocodile Prize Literature 12 January 2012 on the website Keith Jackson & Co: PNG Attitude.
6 Laloki is a popular destination for idealists and others who might hear voices inside their heads (Is that my rebellious conscience I hear?).
7Also known as Parliament.
8Treasure Island is a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Some wise guy said that PNG was “an island of gold floating on a sea of oil”.
Written at Bubia Station between 25 and 27 January 2012