TALK festing is one of the most distinguishable attributes of the people of the Sepik region. Acting on the rhetoric is too often the hardest part.
Instead of moving forward progressively on good ideas and resolutions, our tribal, political and family affiliations distort our focus and in many cases, render good ideas useless.
This is 2016 and it is 41 years since independence. Are we going to sit back and play second fiddle to what others are doing in our backyard? We need to take this animal called development by the horns and lead it with a clear sense of direction so our people will embrace the changes we want to bring about for the good of everyone.
What leaders say too often is the personification of their broad ideas and visions. The ideas should be the springboard to compel enquiry and investigate possibilities for action. The findings should inform action and intervention.
How can we do this? For a start, as a region, we already have a cadre of educated and appropriately experienced people who can start the ball rolling. Why should we wait to have others walk us through the field?
We already have herdsmen who are groomed and well positioned to counsel our leaders and help them lead our people. In this country, our people have a reputation for foresightedness, wisdom, hard work and selflessness.
Therefore we need to establish a think group that is void of political affiliations and aspirations. This will be a like-minded group who will champion our development agenda and discourse.
However, the challenge we too often face is that of our narrow-mindedness. Too often our perceptions are poisoned by socio-political affiliations. Political perceptions of development and power wrestling have smeared negativity, malice and disenchantment around many good initiatives, sabotaging them and leading to their demise.
For example, if you go into Wewak, folks will tell you that the storm water project and the stadium are Somare family matters. Similarly if you discuss the Sepik Plain Economic Zone, they will say its Maru’s political and private project.
Such views tell you a lot about how we perceive development in the region and the extent to which the common mindset has been influenced by affiliations to different socio economic and political groupings.
These views are also advocated by some post modernist thinkers who argue time and again that people display such multiplicities because of their social construct.
However, to mobilise our people and move forward, we need to deconstruct such mindsets.
We need to give people the tools to master the art of recognising new opportunities and not sitting back and complaining when someone else rolls in and takes the opportunity away from them.
Our people need to understand the changing global market and the way our country is changing both economically and socially. We need to switch our people into a mode of thinking that assists them understand change and take on the challenges.
They need to view change as a chance for a better life and thus learn to network, mobilise resources and take advantage of opportunity.
So who will lead the way in embracing change? It is the educated and literate populace. Unfortunately, many commentators today on development issues display low level thinking and perceptions.
For example, the level of debate on development in the Sepik Development Forum website speaks volumes about our perception and comprehension of development concepts and practices. Many contributions are amazingly shallow and regressive at times.
The bigger development picture, and our people’s collective interest, is too often overshadowed by ego. If we are going to peg our thinking at such levels then God help us because our people will remain that way for the next 40 years.
If that is how it is going to be then we might as well all migrate to Australia or look for greener pastures in Madang, Lae, Kimbe or Port Moresby.
My conscience and agenda is clear. Now is the time for us to rise up and assemble a like-minded group to pursue our development desires for the collective advancement of our people, our region and country.