An entry in The Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism
I RECENTLY chanced on a Facebook group named Simbu Intending Candidates and am trying to comprehend the logic for such a creation.
Firstly, there is already the Simbu discussion group which discusses socio-economic, political and sectoral issues. Three-fifths of their discussions are on obsolete politics but it gives wannabe politicians an opportunity to demonstrate their political acumen.
The discussion group also exposes members to the dekrome arkanga, which is Simbu slang for the Lumbricus terrestris earthworm. These earthworms are lazy confidence men who feed on wannabe pollies. They are people who do not plough their own land for sustenance but feed on others toil.
An example of their activities can be explored by looking at the recent fate of a security guard who was a wannabe politician.
He worked in one of the Asian stores in Kundiawa, earned K120 per fortnight and unfortunately made known his intention of contesting the presidential seat of the local council prior to the issuing of writs for the last election.
He lived in a 5 by 4 metres cardboard shed in a settlement in Kundiawa where his people, upon hearing of his intention to contest the seat, visited every pay day.
On average, his small shed e accommodated and catered for 10 people each fortnight Friday. He suffered hunger and survived on flour balls for the next 14 days. This cycle went on until the issue of writs for nominations.
He then resigned from his job, went home and contested the election. As the count proceeded to the second preference vote he was the first to be eliminated. The people who had dined from his meagre pay and slept in his shed hadn’t voted for him.
He contemplated suicide after the declaration of results but instead chopped one of the people he had fed during his campaign.
Nowadays, there are still earthworms slithering around Kundiawa town and elsewhere with long black oiled beards,cowboy hats and infinite gimmicks. Their numbers are increasing exponentially as many young men and women realise it is a lucrative business.
Some of the women, with flattery skills learned from their husbands, are particularly good earthworms.
If an intending candidate goes up to Kundiawa, there is a high chance that an elderly woman will come by and call him a yal kuru, which in Simbu for ‘whiteman’. Such flattery serves to inflate the wannabe’s ego so he can open his wallet.
Another scam, when there is a death in the clan, is for an earthworm to take his dirty folder (what he calls a ‘submission’) and go looking for intending candidates and current MPs asking for money to buy a coffin and lamb flaps for the haus krai.
He leaves the sad women and old to mourn over the corpse and fend off the kumo (witches) while he runs around seeking donations.
This might take the earthworm and his protégés a week while the corpse literally decomposes. As a sign of respect, the women and elders cope with the whiff and wait.
Days later, the earthworm returns with his spoils and slaughters the pigs and make a grand bragging speech on his ability to bring in wealth. After more verbal diarrhoea the earthworm finally concludes that he will contest the next LLG presidential seat and implores mothers to remember him in their daily prayers.
The lamb-thirsty clansmen then yell hooo, meaning ‘yes’, at the aroma of lamb flaps.
Without fear or favour, the first dish of lamb flaps and other food will be served to the drug addicts, and that is another funny part of contemporary Simbu culture.
The addicts, having smoked tonnes of Mary-Jane (marijuana), take the dishes and congregate in a corner and devour the meat in a matter of seconds.
Whilst the drug addicts and people feed on the lamb flaps the earthworm and his protégés sip their SP brownies, bought with the intending candidates’ and current MPs’ donations.
After six stubbies the earthworm calls for attention from the community, says nothing but cries his eyes out. He has no policy platform but will strategically cry saying, “I feel sorry for all of you”. That is enough for the emotionally charged community to elect him and he will win.
Seeking donations to stage a funeral is immoral since filial love demands that a departing member in essence is still alive in the family in spirit and therefore a decent burial with resources coming from the family backyard is humane. The coffin, blankets, kerosene, tea, sugar and all other expenses must come from the immediate family’s own toil.
Other ethnic groups in PNG never go near the houses of their politicians to ask for a coffin and lamb flaps when a relative is dead.
In Kokopo a Tolai politician and his family can freely go to the market buying garden produce and shopping without anybody stepping up for a handshake. It is considered morally degrading to chase pollies asking for help with funeral expenses in their culture.
A Simbu politician, on the other hand, cannot walk down to Wara Maket with his wife and children without risking losing them in a melee of converging earthworms.
The current generation of Simbus are fast losing their heads and I suspect this new candidates group on Facebook will simply become a catalyst for more flattery and swindling of unsuspecting candidates for resources in our nere tere (eat and vote) culture.
This new group, by dint of its name alone, also runs the risk of coming into conflict with the laws governing elections, nominations and campaigns.