OUR WRITERS’ FELLOWSHIP PROJECT is off to a great start (we hope to announce another two tomorrow) and one of the spin-offs is the connection that is created between sponsor and recipient writer.
I thought this exchange between Joe Wasia and Bob Cleland more than adequately expresses the connectedness that PNG Attitude, in its own small way, is seeking to create and they have kindly allowed me to share it with you…
Waooo! Thanks Bob. I really appreciate you. Great man great sponsor!
I hope Bob knows very well the highland culture and PNG as a whole and what he has decided to do is to promote more PNGeans to be great writers, readers and thinkers.
The great thinkers, writer and readers will do marvelous in the development of PNG one way or the other. Great job Bob.
I could say Bob and your colonial administration in the highlands and PNG have done marvelously in the development of PNG. Most of the infrastructure services that we see today are your footprints.
After your team left PNG in 1970s and 80s our own government has never done much. Failed in many areas. The services that you established have been deteriorating to the state where it would no longer use.
One very good example is a primary school in my village which was established in the 1970s. Classrooms are now no longer classrooms. I feel very sad to see this situation.
Thanks again Bob for the sponsorship and hope to know you more.
Great to hear from you and congratulations on getting the sponsorship. Keith Jackson has sent me some details of you. It looks as though he has also sent some details of me to you. I hope we get to know each other better from now on.
You probably know I've written a book about being a kiap during 1953 to 1956. The first thing I want to do is send you a copy so please send me your most reliable postal address.
I was a kiap for 23 years and finally left in 1956. In that time, the people and country of PNG got firmly wedged in my heart (as with many Australians). I served in Eastern Highlands, Western, Lae, Kokopo, Chuave, then back to Eastern Highlands. When I revisit Goroka, I have a strong feeling of that being 'my ground'.
I've always been optimistic about PNG's future because I know that you, the people, can work things out in the end. As things began to deteriorate since 1975, and as corruption took hold, I stayed optimistic. Australian media reported most of the bad things happening, seldom the good. But I knew that there were plenty of good things happening, unseen.
In April this year, I joined a small cruise ship at Alotau and resolved to search out those good things. We cruised the islands off the tip of PNG, then the south coast of New Britain, to Rabaul. I didn't need to search for good things - they were all around me wherever we went. It did my heart good. Everywhere, people said they were sick of the government and were looking forward to the elections.
Well, the elections have come and gone and I have to say that I think things look pretty good. There's an enormous amount of hard work to be done and I think that's begun already.
Through all this time I've been following 'PNG Attitude' regularly and it became clear to me that posts from so many PNG writers were in fact the voices of the movers and shakers of now and the future. So I sponsored a category of 'Heritage Writing' in the Crocodile Prize. When 600 entries over all categories came in, I knew I wanted to participate in this excitement.
So that, in a nutshell, is how I got involved in Keith's sponsorship idea and how you and I are now writing to each other.
I've seen some of the posts and comments you've offered from time to time. I know now that I can look forward to more.
Yes, I know a bit about the highlands culture - enough to know that highlanders generally are an intelligent, perceptive, hard working lot and that's a pretty good base from which to start. Just look at all the highlanders in good, often influential jobs all around PNG - like you.
Hey, I ramble on a bit don't I? There's more which will come out from time to time, as I hope it will from you. May I say em tasol wantok.