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27 December 2013


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I agree Phil, a planning workshop will allow for writers, editors and publishers to contribute ideas moving forward.

Here's an alternative that just happened in my pig feed work:

'A grub in your silage'.

The best writing wins. This gives us PNG literature material from which to learn more. It is not enough to win, we should understand why we have won. That spurs us on to improve our writing further.

A planning meeting at the next opportunity is a good idea.

We can use the advice of eminent writers who are associated with The Croc Prize.

Phil - I think a bug in the sauce bottle would be much more preferable to a flea in the ear?

I recall once whilst on patrol having been attacked by a small bug that flew into my ear from my Tilley lamp.

The little bugger then started to do a tap dance on my eardrum, which caused me to reciprocate although my dancing up and down was more from pain than pleasure.
Some analogy perhaps?

Thanks Ruth. Perhaps what we should do is make the next Crocodile workshop in Port Moresby a planning one discussing ways to take the cause of literature in PNG a step further in terms that are manageable locally.

What we probably did in handing it over to SWEP was expect it to run the competition in the same way we had done when, in fact, a whole new model was needed.

It's a bit like Australia handing over PNG in 1975 and expecting the country to carry on using the model bequeathed to it.

This has been bothering me for some time now. On the one hand I want to see literature in PNG flourish and on the other I don't want to be seen to be interfering or trying to impose an outside agenda.

Maybe if we flagged the workshop now we will get a debate going.

And, as you suggest, maybe we should try to get the sponsors more involved.

Maybe we also need a couple of dozen more Ruth Moiam's in the mix too.

Phil, you should ask the Croc sponsors at the next awards ceremony how many of them read the anthologies.

The Croc Committee 2013 which was made up of, yes, educated Papua New Guineans debated the quality of entries and whether the Crocodile Prize competition should be only about keeping alive a competition or also about encouraging quality and structure among writers.

Educated Papua New Guineans / writers these days need your support to be able to restructure something so it works for their society, people and their interest.

Phil - There are inevitable adjustments to make coping with work in a Third World Country. By the end of the rainy season in up-country Myanmar, we always had many little bugs in the flour. My wife sifted out what she could, and hid the rest by adding baking chocolate before the dough went in the oven.

But now, in a global economy, things are simpler. With the 2013 Crocodile Prize Anthology already in print (I'm looking at its ad on, you have the option to purchase at the publisher's discount, which is likely to be printing costs only, plus a discounted shipping cost. It shouldn't be too costly to get a few copies for the bean counters to approve.

If you buy $35 (USD) worth (six copies of your anthology even at full price) Amazon offers free shipping. Amazon might object to sending the books free half-way around the world, but check it out.

When I was asking about sending my own book to PNG, they quoted a price about half the cost of US postage, which would maybe double your total cost to 70 or 80 USD.

It's your own responsibility to check the printed and digital versions for any typos or other defects, but Amazon will patiently revise the book until you are satisfied. With some effort and patience, you can even talk with a competent human tech support person.

I agree Phil however the essence of how a society performs is not up to a few individuals. Should we judge all Italians on the basis of the mafia or an ex PM who has all those naughty parties? What about our own society with the current cases of political and union corruption? Opportunists will always be the exception.

Until and unless the educated elite in PNG take charge and change their society's paradigm nothing with change. Currently all we hear about are complaints and very little effective action.

To change a society's cultural norms is not, I suggest, possible withing one or even two generations. We tried remember and failed to make a lasting impression.

That's not to say however that everyone should just give up and not try to improve PNG.

Mipla i wan bel lo displa kain tingting laga?

A bug in a sauce bottle....doesn't look like things have improved any since 1963 when I ate a cockroach which was in the tomato soup served at the dining room of our hostel.

Thing is Paul, we're dealing with educated people here so it should be assumed that they are working to that changed paradigm.

The point you make about coming from a different culture is very sound when you are talking about less sophisticated people who are uneducated or come from rural areas but it doesn't really apply in the case cited.

The educated elite in PNG are very quick to make things work if it is to their benefit, legally or otherwise.

When I accosted the skipper of the boat over a beer in Moresby later his response was, "Sorry mate; if I'd known it was you in the village I would have dropped it off at the right place." His excuse was that he was tired and wanted to go home.

And Harry, a contract in PNG is worth Jack shit. People ignore them and taking a civil matter to court is nigh on impossible. The civil courts are too busy dealing with fake compensation claims and defamation cases being pursued by politicians. Not worth the paper you write them on; a handshake has much more value.

There are people like Jane Awi and Emma Wakpi who break the mold but there are, unfortunately, few and far between.

Barbara in two simple sentence makes a critical point. "But they need to follow history and get the local people to build some classrooms, for when it rains. Bush materials can do a great job."

Over the years, in PNG Attitude, there have been a number of "history" articles detailing the provision of significant community facilities using local resources/materials. Sadly there have been many more bemoaning the lack of government support in the provision of "first class" buildings.

Examples of a medical centre not being used because there are damaged walls or a leaking tin roof. Until there is grass roots (pun intended) determination to improve things then little will change.

We need more articles, from local scribes, detailing some of the multitude of excellent "self help" projects occurring in villages. One person I particularly encourage to write is Jane Awi
( who has just completed the PILP Program ( and now working to motivate the young people in her village Ganigle, Simbu.

A quote from Jane "I have always believed that in order for any development and transformation to take place in the communities we must first build the knowledge base of the community. Thus, I have had informal talks and storytelling exercises with children and youths in the community in the last 3 weeks.

"Tomorrow, I will be giving a community talk in my village Ganigle and Dindim to parents and members of on community mobilisation and transformation and how community cam mobilise to create change and build their community without relying on the government and politicians."

And pigs might fly or the anvil got broken.

Perhaps if doing business in PNG has fallen to such a level where distrust between all parties predominates then one solution may be to have the funds required for the publishing placed in a bank as a bill of promise thereby when the job is done the subsequent release of funds can only proceed when all parties are satisfied that the terms of the contract for services have been fulfilled.

Also as there has been a previous contract then analysis of the terms of same could be now fully analysed to ascertain if any proposed new contract is feasible?

Culture is an incredibly potent force that due to its ephemeral nature, rarely exhibits a clear view of the complex problems it creates.
We were taught as children to be on time, achieve a certain result by a certain date and be held responsible if we were naughty., ‘Or else….!’
But what if our ancestors didn’t need to depend on a finite, seasonal timing to ensure their food supply was planted, tended, harvested and stored to ensure they were able to eat all year round? What if our ancestors weren’t beholden to a king or a representative of a central government to pay annual taxes on time and in the right currency? What if our ancestors didn’t need to learn mathematics and business concepts in order to sell their produce or to make a living?
The answer may well be that we would not have the same imperatives of time, efficiency and motivation.
Our ancestors took generations of gradual change in order to effect today’s cultural norms. They also had the imperative of motivation through wars, gaol and the gallows and years of deprivation as forceful drivers.
Until the paradigm changes, nothing else will.

Getting and spending we lay waste our powers.

Good old WW.

When will they ever learn? When will they learn to think?

I'm thinking that there are probably plenty of educated people in PNG without a job who might like to do some training to become a teacher and help increase the number of teachers so they can allow every kid to go to school.

Of course they need more schools. But they need to follow history and get the local people to build some classrooms, for when it rains. Bush materials can do a great job.

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