An entry in the 2015 Rivers Award
for Writing on Peace & Harmony
IN 2003, there were serious clashes at the University of Papua New Guinea between former students of Port Moresby National High School and Bugandi Secondary School.
The resultant chaos caused many injuries to students and much damage to property. It also created a hostile environment at the university especially for people living on campus.
At the time I was completing Grade 12 studies at Port Moresby National High School and, the following year, received an offer to study at UPNG and reside on campus.
I was allocated to Niomuro, a hall of residence for first year students. Before moving in, we were warned by our seniors that the conflict was ongoing.
Three weeks went by and nothing happened and our thoughts towards our freshman brothers from Bugandi and other schools began to change, and theirs about us. There developed a mutual feeling of respect.
Early in the semester we had our first hall of residence meeting with the Student Warden and were given the opportunity to introduce ourselves to each other. That’s when we knew which school each of us came from. We knew who the Bugandi students were and they knew who we were.
The meeting discussed issues, resolved problems and stated rules and brought us to a common understanding and respect towards each other. During the open discussion time, a brother shared a motto he learned at his former school.
It was “be a friend to all and enemy to none” and it nailed down what everyone was thinking; no one wanted to make enemies. We would be living together under one roof for the whole year, why create an environment where you would not feel safe.
It was a simple motto, but very meaningful. Everyone in Niomuro was a friend to everyone and an enemy to none. When a member of Niomuro saw another, he knew that he was safe. Life in Niomuro was peaceful and harmonious from that day.
If all Papua New Guineans saw each and every one as a friend, this country would be a place of peace and harmony.