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« One year on, no justice for woman burned alive in sorcery attack | Main | Nokondi's story - Once upon a leg »

07 February 2014


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I instituted the Cleland Family Award for Heritage Literature in 2012 because of my long-held belief that any society benefits from being aware of it's social and cultural heritage.

Notice my phrase 'being aware of'. That doesn't mean believe it or not believe it. It doesn't mean accept it or ignore it. It doesn't mean be proud of it or ashamed of it. It means, simply, to be aware of it.

I hope that today's writers accept that idea and record for posterity some of the beliefs and stories from their ancestors. It's up to each writer to judge for themselves what things to write about and what things to ignore.

I first heard a Nokondi story in 1954 or '55. He was a mischievous figure who was often blamed for minor little upsets in a village or garden. Nokondi must have stolen that kaukau. Nokondi chased those young boys from the bush. Nokondi was the one who called out those teasing comments to young girls in a garden.

He was not a malignant presence and he was known by the several peoples through much of the Eastern Highlands

In 1974 when the Eastern Highlands Area Authority (predecessor of the Provincial Government) was looking for a simple symbol or logo to use on its common seal and stationery, Nokondi was the unanimous choice of the members.

Students at the Goroka Teachers College had drawn, painted and made beaten copper images of their idea of Nokondi - till then an orally described being with one arm, one leg, one eye, one ear and, dare I say it, one testicle.

I simplified one of those images (I understand the copper beating still resides in the EHPG headquarters in Goroka), added a coffee branch to symbolise modern industry. That was adopted by the Authority and subsequently by the Provincial Government. The artwork above is a copy of my original pen and ink drawing.

Another point about Nokondi is that the concept came from the ancestors of those Area Authority members, far preceding the coming of Australians and the introduction of the coffee industry.

Oh, Julie. Is this the legacy she and Loujaya want to leave PNG women politicians?

I'm disgusted.

Can call all this "shorcut" policies (or temptations) and list a few of them:
1. Remove traditional images and the heart and mind of the leaders and the people will change;
2. Execute a few convicts and the crime rate in the country will be tremendously reduced;
3. Make free condoms available from basket to casket and Hiv/Aids will go away;
4. Promote massive artificial contraception and the population will stop growing;
5. Repeal the Sorcey Act 1971 and sorcery killings will practically end.

Am I making things too simple? Yes, a bit!

But I believe it helps understand who benefits from it:
1. Governments that need to give a fast impression that they are doing something...
2. NGOs that need to report on quick investments and project completion.
3. Institutions of all sort run by poorly and shortly committed people.

Who pays the price for the "shortcut' policies:
1. Basically poor peole tricked into believing that the above mentionend approaches will assure them happiness and wealth.

Who gets the blame for the failures:
1.Jounalists and media daring to speack out the truth.
2.Free minded bloggers.
3.Churches and other long term committed institutions.
4. Good leaders and adminisrators becasue of the misbehaviour of their colleagues.
5. Etc.

Last year the National Government repealed the 1971 Sorcery Act. They did this because the Act allowed a belief in sorcery to be a defence in assault, murder and other such cases.

The intent in repealing the Act was to make it clear that sorcery did not exist, that it was a fabrication.

Removing the Nokondi motif, just like destroying the carvings in the National Parliament, is a reversal of this intent. The removal of the motif and the destruction of the carvings clearly says that the government, both Provincial and National, still, in fact, believe in these things.

The government needs to make up its mind about what it actually believes.

Far out! Get some sense people of PNG. There is no God, god, Spirit, spirit, Jesus, jesus whatever.

Believe in yourselves and in what is right from wrong. Stop blaming lifeless carvings and ions of identity for your failures and criminality.

The Eastern Highlands provincial government has yet to put in place systems and mechanisms to deal with and reduce abuse in the province but is fast to point fingers at an inanimate traditional symbol/emblem on our flag.

Yet neither Governor Soso nor the National Parliament Speaker can speak out against the PM for contracting Borneo Pacific Pharmaceutical Ltd to potentially supply fake drugs to PNG. Ironic, isn't it! Total lunacy?

As I see it the problem here is the issue of blaming and leaders themselves cannot admit they are incapable to deal with the issues they were mandated to deal with.

They blame such traditional religious icons, etc, since they are lost.

PNG does not need such leaders that are good at pointing fingers.

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