THE lack of a powerful leadership that exerts influence over all Bougainvilleans is an issue that time has offered the island and its people, and that has resulted solely from the half-heartedness in the history of struggling for self determination since the 1960s.
Furthermore, post-crisis Bougainville should produce Bougainvilleans who are well aware of the long struggles of the island but adults and leaders tend to ignore the past as a tool to design the future. It is here that Bougainville should invest.
In history most Bougainvillean pro-self-determination organisations and independence movements, like the 1969 Napidakoe Navitu formed to foster unity across the island, failed because they did not strategically built themselves.
The people within did not invest time to built a concrete foundation for Bougainville’s cause for the long term but, unprepared, attempted to act in the short term; starting and running a government with an unsustainable amount of resources.
This paved the way for external forces to negate Bougainville Island, its people and their values. And Bougainville was affected at individual, family and community level and beyond. As Bougainville Manifesto 3 (2013) gives light:
So the landing of colonization on the Solomon archipelago was the pollution and interruption of the peoples’ harmony and freedom in a land that was theirs through unrealistic value enforcement, indoctrination, deprivation, suppression and so on.
Westernization, after arriving in 1868, systematically enforced a breakdown in the ecology of life that sustained Bougainville and Bougainvilleans for nearly thirty thousand years.
This has made Bougainvilleans lacked the capacity to function within their own island as a people who know and respect themselves. But this had made Bougainvilleans, a people full to the brim and thus made weak with alien ideas and concepts and trying to practice them in an environment that repels foreign intervention naturally.
Bougainvilleans, today, deny that they were a nation-state for over thirty thousand years. This is because modernization had made them erode their ethnic embodiment thus also losing their sense of direction.
One of Africa’s writers, Francis M. Deng, in his 1997 article, Ethnicity: An African Predicament, summed this crisis as: ‘Ethnicity is more than the skin color or physical characteristics, more than language, song, and dance. It is the embodiment of values, institutions and patterns of behavior, a composite whole representing a people’s historical experience, aspirations, and world view. Deprive a people of their ethnicity, their culture, and you deprive them of their sense of direction and purpose’.
Having built a multilateral peace process since 1997, Bougainville is seen to drift off track from the values that were suppressed and led to the 10 year Bougainville crisis since 1988 with the sole reason to please donors since it is financially not equipped and also to please the very culprit, PNG, that inherited all the game rules and concepts from colonial masters to abuse the Bougainville people of Solomon Islands.
With Bougainville Manifesto 7 identifying exploitation, indoctrination and genocide as the tools of killing the Bougainville nation out of the Pacific by PNG and its cronies, Bougainvilleans should now focus on creating a democratically accepted protectionist regime within the autonomy arrangements and even into its future political journey after the referendum constitutionally scheduled to be held between 2015 and 2020.
Protectionism—defined by the Oxford Dictionary as the ‘theory or practice of shielding a country’s domestic industries from foreign competition by taxing imports’—should be aligned to economic, political and social aspects of running Bougainville government by Bougainvilleans—in whatever form it is.
Bougainville needs to protect and defend itself from the three lethal injections: exploitation, indoctrination and genocide that PNG was endowed by colonisation to deprive Bougainville of its identity and dignity; and denied the attainment of the maximum benefit from all its resources.
How can Bougainville shield its land and people from PNG backed exploitation? Under the autonomy status of Bougainville the very people and organisations that Bougainville had long resisted causing the loss of some 15,000 of its people since 1988, are now rushing back to the unprotected and vulnerable island in the name of developing Bougainville.
Most of these parasites, backed by short-minded and lazy Bougainvilleans, are not interested in a self-reliant Bougainville.
Under autonomy, the Bougainville Constitution in Section 24 (1) states that: ‘In order to facilitate development, private initiative and self-reliance shall be encouraged’. But to this day, the ABG and all Bougainvilleans have failed.
ABG solely looks at multinational companies to start up impact projects that are the basis of exploitation across all Third World states; individual Bougainville citizen allow foreigners like those few Asian businesses protected by police on Buka town to exploit them.
Bougainville Constitution’s Section 23 and 24 seeks to make good use of the island’s vast natural resources. For example, cocoa can boost the internal revenue of the Bougainville economy if we get all non-Bougainville cocoa buyers such as Agmark and Monpi out and formulate our own company that is 100% Bougainvillean.
Such demands were placed to ABG by the ex-combatants of Central Bougainville in the PNG Post Courier of 9 October 2013 (pg 23). They said businesses the ABG must protect for Bougainvilleans include:
Retail trading, including trade stores, canteens and takeaway food bars or eateries, supermarkets, liquor supply and import including brewery and distillation of liquor, guest houses and hotels up to three star status, wholesaling and merchandising in any white goods, consumables and building hardware materials, Fuel supplies and fuel stations, including import of oil products, alluvial mining and gold trading, commodity exports of cocoa and copra primary and secondary products, cocoa and coconut plantations and other cash crop development, dealings in handicrafts and artifacts including the export of such items, timber production and exports, PMV and freight transport including trucking and earth moving, marine products extraction and exports, fisheries and fish exports, tourism and tour operators; any manufacturing, including cottage industries with cash capital value of K100 million or less is also prohibited and exclusively reserved for Bougainvilleans, partnerships and joint ventures in any of the above activities are prohibited.
Upholding such a call from concerned fighters is a key step forward to minimise exploitation on Bougainville and rise the internal revenue generation high as Bougainville learns the basic of running business in a conducive environment protected by a responsible government.
This also is the strategy for Bougainville to fight indoctrination and genocide and key here is to create an independent education curriculum for Bougainville.
Under PNG rule of Bougainville, Bougainvilleans have lost their identity as Solomon Island people over the years of domination since the known Anglo-German Declaration 1886 and Anglo-German Convention 1899 pointed by a Raspal Khosa 1992 thesis, The Bougainville Secession Crisis, 1964-1992: Melanesians, Missionaries, and Mining, that separated their island from the British Solomon Islands which was their rightful place.
Thus the Bougainville government as it staggers towards referendum has the enormous tasks in partnership to design a education curricula suitable for the post-war Bougainville population to learn why and how their island faced a long history of struggle for self determination; through such learning Bougainville needs to know it political, cultural, geographical, economic and social history.
From this knowledge then a link to anti-genocide move to preserve the identity of Bougainville people can be reached to avoid Bougainvilleans to engage on paths of self-destruction.
The Bougainville music identity is fast becoming Tolai rock in sharp contradiction to our root Solomon Island; Bougainville’s God-given skin colour is being diluted by PNG people through marriage in the name of democracy and human rights.
Insane Bougainvilleans falsely accept their classification under New Guinea Islands Region of PNG as rightful when it is not. It’s a way of negating a unique Bougainville people.
Such illicit acts are not crimes in the eyes of the world but we want to save Bougainville identity and dignity and stand firm against exploitation, indoctrination and genocide, Bougainville has to inflict pain in a short period of time to live a long happiness future.
Only protectionism in politics, culture and economy could pave the way for Bougainvilleans to see and re-possess the lost values of Bougainville identity and dignity and to build a better and prosperous Bougainville.
After all Bougainville is a tiny island and people in the midst of the Pacific Ocean and in need of protection to enjoy and promote its own uniqueness and place in the world in the face of globalization and other known dangers and challenges.