THE appointment of parliamentarian Gary Juffa and academic Albert Schram to the Crocodile Prize Organising Group, COG, is a great boost to the continuing development of a home-grown literature in Papua New Guinea.
Gary Juffa (right) is a national member of parliament and Governor of Oro Province and Professor Schram is vice-chancellor of the PNG University of Technology.
Both men are prominent figures in PNG who have had to overcome significant challenges in recent times.
Governor Juffa’s outspokenness on issues like corruption, the environment and development often finds him out of favour with the O’Neill government while his work to clean out dishonesty in Oro Province is attracting attention from around the nation. He is also a perceptive and talented orator and writer.
Professor Schram’s (left) battle to retain his vice-chancellor’s job in the face of opponents threatened by reform at Unitech turned out to be a long, sordid and nasty affair during which he was deported from PNG.
After courageous and protracted action by students and staff at Unitech, as well as by Dr Schram himself, he was reinstated less than two months ago.
Love of literature runs in his family: “My mother is a professor of Italian literature,” he told me when agreeing to his COG appointment, “and she will be very happy.”
Both men bring professionalism, grit, a love of Papua New Guinea and an ability to reach the constituencies the Crocodile Prize needs to attract if it is to become a permanent institution in PNG.
Together with a strong corpus of sponsors – most recently the PNG Association of Australia which is supporting the Crocodile Prize Publishing Program – this fourth year of the Prize is developing as its best yet.