IT’S been a while since my last appearance in PNG Attitude and I own some guilt feelings because skimming through the blog is not the same as sharing articles with readers and regular contributors and commenters.
I’ve spent most of my time over the past two years trying to fulfil my career vision as a Bougainville diocesan media operative.
This has included trying to get a radio station running for the Catholic Diocese of Bougainville and at the same keeping the office providing its daily services.
It’s been a great challenge but we now have all our radio equipment here awaiting installation in the coming months.
In my absence from PNG Attitude, I have also pondered how to get Bougainville writers exposed to the world of literature based on my appreciation and admiration for Keith Jackson and Phil Fitzpatrick in their endless support for promoting PNG writers and literature.
I have also contemplated an alternative for sport and music in advancing peace in Bougainville; sport and music have been significant means returning to normalcy since the 10-year Bougainville crisis of the 1990s and its long aftermath.
From my point of view, I think it’s fitting and timely for Bougainvilleans to share with the rest of the world what it means for them to live and experience a peaceful and harmonious society. This can be expressed through writing now and we need to do it now.
So this year I have decided to use my office to sponsor a writing competition for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
The Balens Laip Prize 2017 is an initiative of Bougainville diocesan media and communications to promote peace and harmony in the province through literature.
It is offering prizes worth K5,000.00 for winners of each of four categories - article, essay, short story and poem, all inspired by both Val Rivers and the Crocodile Prize.
Balens Laip is a Tok Pisin rendition of the Catholic Diocese of Bougainville’s pastoral program entitled ‘Renewal into Balanced Life’.
This is a 12-year pastoral program (2013–25) to promote and bring lasting peace to Bougainville by finding best answers to Bougainville’s post crisis situation.
In this literary competition, writers are being asked to write about peace and harmony in Bougainville. Contestants are also encouraged to write about the upcoming referendum on independence in 2019.
History has it that Bougainville has produced some great writers like Leonard Fong Roka, Marlene Potoura, Agnes Maineke and others who have appeared on PNG Attitude and won national awards.
These people have set the scene and established the way forward for upcoming Bougainville writers who still have to make their way.
I have also thought hard about Bougainville’s political walk to self-determination; a dream long dreamt even prior to the Bougainville crisis.
I think peace and harmony is the the answer to Bougainville’s long struggle for self-determination.
And I believe this writing competition will help Bougainville in her journey towards what she thinks is best for her people.
There are many untapped crisis related experiences and other stories that need visiting and only through such initiatives will we be able to unveil the richness of Bougainvillean literature.
This is what we hope for and look forward to the outcome of this writing competition here in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
The Balens Laip Prize writing competition begins today and closes on Friday 25 August.
If the competition is successful, it will continue next year and in the coming years.