SORI cup is an idea often used by youthful Papua New Guineans when meeting together to share a few substances based on alcohol.
If I am accurate, many young people in Papua New Guinea today are alcoholically savvy.
A large number of alcoholic substances are not factory made but, manmade: yawa, white soup, ombru and steam are among many choices. Probably not names familiar to you.
They’re concocted either by people producing for their own consumption or by others looking to earn some easy money.
Now let me get to the idea of sori cup.
When someone produces a container of, say, yawa, he will call upon his young friends and they sit in a circle with one person in the middle.
The one in the middle will supervise a container or more of these home-brewed drinks along with a little cup normally cut from the neck of the container.
He then pours some precious liquid into that small cup which is passed around the circle for each member to drink.
“The term sori cup implies you are sorry to give such a small amount of something (alcohol), because if there were more you would give them enough,” one participant told me.
Another said: “We cannot afford the industrially processed alcohol, so whatever we get we share among each other to sustain our connections.”
An interesting thing about the sori cup is the unity of the youths despite their different cultures - they share what little they have.
This set me thinking about our recent political origins. At independence, our forefathers had constructed the basis of statecraft, the Constitution, which we look upon as our common ground.
The Constitution rebuilt our political thinking after the colonial experience. In this noble document, wepledged to stand as one people and one nation.
But it seems to me these fine words have lost their true meaning. Our fundamental principle as a nation is contaminated by the challenges we face, and which force us to take refuge in our own individualistic culture.
As a young educated and proud Papua New Guinean, I believe young people nowadays are clever enough to teach leaders how to be innovative and how to embrace our culture for greater national unity.
Looking at the economic aspect of the sori cup, I think our leaders theorise but these young adults understand well the practical ideas of economics.
Resources are scarce and needs and wants unlimited. This they understand. So, whatever little these young men get, the sori cups ensure everyone is satisfied. Cultural differences matter not because they are dependent upon each other.
The person in the middle of the sori cup shows what a leader must do. He is central to everyone and, while everyone watches, he distributes the cup until all the alcohol in the container or bottle is finished.
I think this is what our national and local leaders should be doing. The national budget for the year should be announced, the provincial budgets should be announced, the local level government budgets should be announced and the ward development budgets should be announced with their priorities clear.
Back in my electorate, so far as I know, there is projected funding for priority areas, but no one has the accessibility to this money. The reason being the people with the sori cup (the leaders) don’t want to pass the cup around.
Leaders know that we have scarce resources yet they misuse them and think of themselves. They forget our common humanity and connectedness.
Melanesian society has survived a very long time through collective effort. It is true that we are diverse in our cultural heritage but we find shells from the distant coast even in the rugged interior highlands of New Guinea. We have long been in touch with each other.
This is the lesson that we must learn. Long before you and me, our ancestors had travelled across seas, rivers, mountains and valleys to trade using the barter system.
Before they travelled and traded, they worked collectively. They gathered products together to exchange. Upon arriving back, a leader called upon the community to share what they have received from the trade.
This is how we lived and the method has survived in our Melanesian society as it has in modern society: no nation can survive without assistance from others. This practice of exchange and sharing that is part of our common humanity.
We must adopt the philosophy of the sori cup. We have little but whatever little we have we will share. Each individual’s efforts will ensure the survival of the many. This is what the sori cup ideology is all about.
The sori cup ideology is that an individual’s gain lies in the survival of our people. If we understand this, we will not abuse the position of responsibility we are entrusted with.
PNG leaders! Do you understand what I am saying?