JEFFREY MANE FEBI
THIS HAS BEEN OUR CUSTOM - the Papua New Guinea Way - the way we have been doing our business ever since our tumbunas understood the advantages of living together in groups - communities that developed ways of doing things that increases their chances of survival.
On many an occasion, I read and or hear rhetoric from delusional leaders, who occasionally emerge from a place where glimpses of almost-insanity tests my belief in our customs.
Other times I hear one who actually sound like insanity itself rumbling from its deep and dark enclosure. There are also times when I think I am insane not to have understood their logic, or lack of it.
How often does one hear or read of a PNG leader who does not call with a hint of ignorance to the masses to return to ‘our ways’ to sort things out - whether it is tribal fights, political fights, CEO’s fights, or any other fight that involve leaders and their equally ignorant die-hard supporters?
Somehow, weird though, when I hear a call to return to ‘our ways’ to settle disputes, a sense of assurance and of confidence in the workings of our ways automatically envelopes and calms me.
An inner call that tells me things will be all right when and if we return to our ways to find solutions. And I usually take for granted that our ways will certainly do us good.
Recently however, a call by a ward councillor from Enga Province for a certain sitting MP and his runner-up from the 2012 elections to return home to stop the fighting and killings that started after the elections the ‘Enga Way’, got me thinking.
These same two leaders’ supporters fought after the 2007 elections.
And they stopped it their way. But this didn’t stop them from fighting again this election, did it?
Having pondered a long while over this – the return to our ways to settle disputes – I began to realize that our ways never solve our problems once and for all.
The call to return to our ways to settle a tribal fight after many death and destruction of property usually ends up freeing, in addition to rapists and torturers, killers or sharp shooters who are likely to find employment as hired guns in other tribal fights.
And history records that, even after a settlement, apparent pay back killings occur away from home. So essentially, some tribal fights are not stopped; rather they evolve and take another form and may start again anytime.
So what constitutes the Enga Way of solving a tribal fight? And by extension, what constitutes our way of stopping tribal fights in other areas of PNG, where recurring tribal fights are prevalent?
How about this - a person suddenly dies from a mysterious illness. And doctors fail to diagnose a probable cause; and or relations of the deceased decide to ignore the results of an autopsy and return to their villages to find the cause of death ‘their traditional way’?
Next we read about an old woman clobbered to near death and dumped in a pit latrine, or burnt alive or of something grotesque. And ‘our way’ helped discover the cause of death.
Honestly, can anyone recall the number of calls by relevant government authorities and churches leaders for sorcery related killings to be stopped?
Further, after corporatization of PNG government’s business arms aimed at blocking political interferences and increasing efficiency and hence productivity; PNG continues to be burdened by corporate liabilities.
And there seem to be no end to government rescue announcements.
Who do you find working in those large corporations? Papua New Guineans! And more often than not, bulk of the workforce are wantoks of respective CEO’s - some of whom aren’t qualified to serve in positions they occupy. And they usually have things their way – the PNG Way.
The PNG Way – our way – is in the most part a curse unto itself. It may have served us well in the past but seem incompatible with contemporary PNG. There is an urgent need for change - a change that should happen immediately.
Not to do away with ‘our way’ but to modify it to work effectively with current trends. Perhaps, change in mentality - discarding of redundant aspects of ‘our way’ and fusing its good aspects with globally accepted ways of doing business to come up with something PNG flavoured.
Our way is seriously crippling the country’s lifeline – the heart, arteries and veins, and its blood are poisoned. How long does this country plan to use ‘our way’ to manage its affairs?
Recurring tribal fights are testament of the inability and of course uselessness of ‘our way’ to settle problems once and for all. So for instance, just what do our leaders mean by calling to their fellow tribesmen to ‘stop a tribal fight our way’?
Do such calls carry an inherent stop_fighting_for_now_until_next_election’ clause? Isn’t our way the way of not settling issues once and for all?
On a brighter note, we’re not lesser human beings – we’re equally endowed with mental powers
that enabled citizens of other countries to rise from the dusts of their mistakes to take their country to greater heights.
Many a brother or a sister from another country looks to us with sad envy. So many resource projects, yet we appear wretchedly poor.
If and only if we see where our way has taken us and break free from its stranglehold.
And no one will save us; it is us who will save ourselves, so let us make the changes our way – the PNG way.
Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2013.