IN HIS critical review of traditional kastom in Papua New Guinea, Sam Koim should have been more specific.
He should have stated that our culture has been politicised both by politicians and those mostly western educated men who have become bikman by money and who go back to the village to flaunt their wealth in order to buy support and recognition.
This is a total abuse of our customary systems.
I am writing this as someone who comes from a simple background and who has been privileged to witness and experience the benefits of customary practices like hauskrai and bride price and the benefits they have on society.
Papua New Guineans, who mostly live in rural areas, are a self-reliant people who rely on themselves and their family extended families to see them through hard times.
Thus it is important to show your face and make a contribution in customary ceremonies whether about death, marriage or reconciliation.
If these people do not contribute in one way or another, no one is going to help them when they face problems; the government will definitely not help.
Collaboration and reciprocation is a way of life for most simple Papua New Guineans.
I am not sure if most Westerners or Western-influenced Papua New Guineans understand this or see its importance until they actually live in a traditional village society.
Traditionally our Melanesian way of life is never about getting rich, it has more to do with maintaining family ties and looking after each other.
A good illustration of one such custom and the positive impacts in our society is captured by Arnold Mundua in his book ‘A Bride’s Price’.