A COUPLE OF YEARS BACK I wrote an email that sent me from the buai market to the corridors of power.
No I’m not a powerful or influential person, but I suppose I am privileged.
I have joined PNG’s privileged class who eat fine food in hotels and sip wine with diplomats and business leaders. It would be easy to dismiss me as having sold out on the ideals I had whilst blogging.
Indeed, I sometimes thought I had sold out until recently when I received criticism for being too opinionated on television. Yes there are some people who reckon I am good on TV but there are others who believe their world views ought not to be questioned.
I suppose this tension does highlight to me that I still have a mind that gives some people a mental wreck.
But I do not think I am unique. I seem to bump into so many very self-confident and articulate Papua New Guineans.
There seems to be a sense that We the People of Papua New Guinea have to be masters of our own destiny, it’s like the renaissance of the decolonial thinking that existed prior to independence.
Yesterday I moderated the first ever Sharp Talk seminar. Despite the criticism that has come from some quarters, the fact that Papua New Guinean thinkers have organised themselves to have a conversation about the condition of the nation is very exciting.
It is also ground breaking to the extent that it is a challenge to the intellectual dominance of foreign academics, foreign con-in-sultants and other so called foreign experts.
Obviously at the elite level, there seems to be some progressive thinking; however I am acutely aware that I live in a nation where I have a smart phone, tablet, laptop and wear clothes bought overseas while around me, thousands of my fellow country men and women struggle to eke out an existence and have very little understanding of the western world.
I suppose therefore that when I talk about a more socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable development approach, some people think I am being too opinionated.
Rio Tinto and BHP both know how sour things can turn out if development is not socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable.
Unfortunately, I have met many people whose arrogance and indifference continues at their own peril. And when I call them arrogant and indifferent, they think I am being too opinionated. One cannot be too diplomatic if the nature of the situation demands a stern critique.
I am glad to be meeting many young energetic and empowered Papua New Guineans who are themselves an inspiration and a source of strength. These are the sorts of people who presented their ideas at tomorrow’s first Sharp Talk Seminar.
We live in interesting times that could lead to further success or the demise of the nation if greed gets the better of everyone in power and privileged positions.