I LIKE VERY MUCH Jeffrey Febi’s statement that "many a brother or a sister from another country looks to us with sad envy; so many resource projects, yet we appear wretchedly poor."
I have seen this look of 'sad envy' too many times already, and I'm not even half way through my life!
There is a consensus on the relative truth of this statement among Papua New Guineans - even though we observe so many brand new Toyota Land Cruisers on the roads these days.
Certainly there is a more perceptible gap between the rich and the poor, which will eventually create far greater strains on our so called 'PNG Way'.
Our Melanesian society has always been egalitarian but now men of modern wealth are able buy their way into power and influence during special feasts or other customary occasions, oftentimes without having made contributions or taken active part in the day-to-day struggles of their people.
Some may do so through third parties representing them in the village and this seems to have been blindly accepted as being okay by most people.
But this is not the same 'Way' as before.
In traditional times the rise of a leader was observed by all within the community. All the leader’s actions (or inactions), triumphs and failures were witnessed by his people first-hand; not through some proxy with vested interests.
There was a degree of transparency, albeit one that was guaranteed by the physical boundaries of the tribal zone.
It was preordained that, for future leaders’ stars to rise, they must align themselves with the elders of the clan and tribe whose character and leadership had been tested by time and who had brought the community to where it was at present.
There must be respect based on non-monetary indicators - values, speech and action.
Not so today, where the elders are almost totally ignored, especially by the younger male 'warriors', in favour of richer big men who are able to supply them with the pay that they desire; money, alcohol, women, vehicles, guns, a chance to travel and have access to other opportunities including education and employment.
By insidiously subverting 'our Way' the modern-day big men maintain their stranglehold on the wealth of this nation.
Their methods keep the rest of the population poor while seeming to dole out wealth to those who support them or, commonly, by providing some 'Christian or charitable' donation to other groups who then become their lackeys, since 'bekim dinau' [reciprocity] is also part of the PNG Way.
There's a lot more to say on this topic. Thanks again Jeffrey Febi.