Hush those words
walk a while
your footsteps on mine
walk a mile
before you judge
before you speak
walk with me
“WHERE is she?” he asked through gritted teeth.
It was taking too long. The people in the packed church were straining their necks abnormally towards the empty entrance to the aisle.
The women uncomfortably adjusted their Sunday best, the children were shooed and told to be quiet, the men wiped the hot sweat from their eyebrows and still the entrance remained bare.
He stood unmoving, motionless like time itself had frozen. He wished that was the case.
He wished the whole snow-themed wedding was frozen so he could shatter it to pieces.
COCK-a-doodle-doo! Damn kokorou (chicken)! I could strangle it with my bare hands, Abia thought.
She wanted to sleep in but she knew that when the sun came up it’ll be a scorcher so she may as well get up now and have breakfast in the cool of the morning.
Her back ached from the thin mattress against the bamboo slats. She sat up, rubbing her sore back. It’s always like this during the first few couple of days. Just yesterday she had awoken from a comfortable spring mattress in town; this morning she awoke from a foam mattress three times less the thickness of that.
She stretched before exiting her tainamo (mosquito net). Every morning for the next six days she would wake up, tie up her tainamo, and fold her sheets. She had come from Moku (Port Moresby) to spend time with her bubus (grandparents).
Every time I think of you
I am always hurt
Because I did not want to lose you
But it’s hard to hold back.
Why did you lie to me?
I gave you a second chance
Even though you broke my heart
Because I promised to love you
No matter what
Why did you lie to me?
And now you come begging me
Why are you begging me?
Where is all the trust?
It is all gone
Why did you lie to me?
WANI was a household name in Suwayawi village. He was the last remaining of the twelfth generation of the Suwayawi clan. Four generations older than the present village population, Wani showed little evidence of aging.
A village court magistrate spanning unrecorded years of service to the government, his influence reverberated also over neighbouring villages and as wide as the district boundaries.
He was empowered and immortalised by the reputation of his intense local knowledge and was claimed by many as a soul from centuries gone who had returned as a prophet to take care of his people.
Wani was feared and claimed to possess supernatural powers that could turn a person into stone. His presence alone was enough to make one shiver to the bones. Nobody dared go near his house or land.
The sun was high, and beneath the coconut palms life was motionless except for a few birds whistling in nearby bushes. A lone cock at one end of the village indicated the approach of noon. Nature’s way of signalling time.
Along a deserted road she walked,
Her feet trod, plodded and drummed along the path
Trodden by thousands…or was it millions?
How was she to know how many, before her, have travelled on the deserted road!
And along this road she was a sojourner.
If she had a mind to contemplate, she wouldn’t care,
For that thing yonder was so good-looking
And along that road she endured, stubbornly persisted.
What manner of youthful ideal did she harbour?
Everything that opposed and stood in defiance of all rational thinking.
Do you think she cared? Not at all,
SISSANO Lagoon on Aitape’s west coast in the Sandaun Province is a fertile source of sea food for the coastal villages of Warapu, Arope and Sissano.
The area also has long historical links with South-East Asia.
Historically, when people started to migrate from Asia, the Pinapro, a huge tribe comprising four clans, moved in. These four clans are nowadays Pou (my village), Barapu, Ramo and Sumo, which is located at the pedestal of the Torricelli Range.
These four villages, as living evidence, continue to have a common spoken vernacular.
The rugged endless terrain crawls mercilessly,
Winding and meandering carelessly,
Through time and age;
Challenging the cause and destiny of the inhabitants along its path.
The beauty thereof, one beholds in awe.
Parallel to this unspeakable awakening,
Is the disappearance of a varied species of flora and fauna.
Yet no one awakes. It is like a dream.
GREGORY JAZE AVIRA
Surrounded by oil and floating on gas, lies my country so rich and diverse.
Aliens they come to dig up my earth, for whose benefit my mind ponders.
Millions of kina rush in, yet so little seen in our everyday life.
My people cry in silence, yet my leaders turn a blind eye.
And I wonder, why must my people suffer...
Money can buy costumes but not beauty
Money can buy idols but devotion
Money can buy books but not wisdom and knowledge
Money can buy bed but not rest and sleep
Money can buy medicines but not health
Money can buy clothes but not shame
Money can buy food but not hunger
Money can buy flowers but not freshness and fragrance
Money can buy land but not home ( made of human heart )
Money can buy honey but not sweetness
Money can buy something but not everything
Money can buy luxuries but not happiness.
Bride Price, a tradition in every society
Involving money, pigs, goods
Bridging one family with another
Connecting from one person to another
Moving from one village to another
Bride Price calls for monies
Bride Price hunts for pigs
Bride Price searches for food
Bride Price requires resource
All make up the Bride Price
Dawn is breaking, as we approach the modern times
Culture is transition, as we move with the changing times
People are moving, with the changing tides
At the end of the Day, We are who we are
No one can change me,
No one can change you,
No one can change us,
No one can change them,
No one can change the country,
Think big, change your own mindset to have a positive attitude towards Guma culture.
At the end of the Day, We are who we are
What is in a woman’s surname?
Everything about her father
Everything about her husband’s father
References to the patriarchy she belongs to
A male classification order for us women
Monuments to our fathers.
But what of our mothers?
She is nowhere in this nymic roadmap
DEVELOPMENT as an end goal can only come about if it is well funded. Regardless of the commitment, honesty and good governance ideals that are prerequisite to it, it cannot come about if there is no money.
In Papua New Guinea, electorates are heavily reliant upon development grants from the national government. These grants varies in scope, size and purpose
The most notable one, which has drawn a lot of attention lately, is the District Services Improvement Program Funds (DSIP), which is integral if not the backbone of development in electorates.
It is no secret in most electorates in PNG that under development is an issue. It seems that the further you move away from the urban areas the more desolate become the infrastructure and services.
I rubbed my eyes, stepped out from the warmth of the kunai house and shivered. The morning cold on the mountain had got to me so quickly. My breath hung in the chilled air.
Suddenly, I found myself pitching over, propelled by a sudden push from behind and sprawling headfirst. I sat up rubbed at the scratches on my face.
The offender, who was unfortunately my cousin, grinned down at me. “Hello,” he smirked and hopped as I kicked out at him from below. I reached to drag him down, but he leapt out of reach. “Justin!” I yelled.
He laughed and rolled his eyes. “Come on, let’s go down to the lake.”
“Are you kidding, we’re not supposed to go there!”
“Scaredy cat,” he taunted
“Am not,” I retorted.
Woven tales and stories of our ancestors
Fearless struggles of warriors long before our time
Boundaries of our land and the law of our inheritance
The many secrets twisted inside
The beliefs of our tribe
And the legends of the dark forests
A unique way but again for protection
Twisted in a loop only to us
Battles fought down generations
Voices of the suppressed
A message of a promising future
Tangled and carved
Songs of victories
Beauty and talents
True cultural identity
Sacredly hidden in one language - tapa
What colour are your eyes?
I'm afraid to look,
Every time I take a peek
They catch me like a hook
I feel like you bait me
I'm a sucker for that smile,
Losing myself in your chocolate brown eyes,
And I wanna stay lost for a while
SHE was a middle aged woman of about 40, a foster mother of six children, and she was found dead and mutilated in her coffee garden in the remote Mordaula valley of the Simbu Province.
Regina Kina was married to a school teacher John Kombukon, and had been a faithful, fruitful and laborious wife for 16 years.
Although she could have no children of her own, Regina had been a dutiful and splendid foster mother after the children’s biological mother had died almost 20 years ago.
Regina had gone to her garden in the morning to pick coffee berries from her families’ coffee trees. She had not expected danger since no foe was not common in this locality.
It is believed that the attacker assaulted her from the back, succeeded in knocking her to the ground and stunning her with two large rocks that were nearby.
He stripped the woman, pulled her to a drain and raped her repeatedly.
The victim was discovered by a young mother who had gone to wash some clothes and fetch water. She looked in the direction of the garden and noticed that human feet were kicking about in agony.
Upright sapiens tracing constellations
Painting frescoes of migrating ancient quadrupeds
Moulting primate kin un‐severs umbilical cord
Prostrates before celestial and terrestrial
Chanting mantra: magna deum mater
Primal instincts know: she was, is and always will be
Superior Ovum from which humanity evolves
From a powerful womb we come forth –
Not an inferior bone broken in a dream
The perfect XX, not its deformed latter.
KELVERI checked his bank balance on the Eftpos machine in the main shopping centre at Eriku. There was just a single kina in his account.
Payday after payday, it was always the same. He couldn’t believe it. He earned K400 and, even before the week was over, he ran out of money.
Then he’d go to the money market and borrow money from the lenders.
Kelveri depend on these money sellers, even though they ripped him off. There was no other way.
A money seller can loan K10 to Kelveri who will pay back K15 on his pay day.
At Divine Word University, we meet as friends
But you are more like a brother to us
When challenges freezes us
Your smiling face was our warmth
But now we will miss your comfort
You taught us the meaning of life
It is a definition of challenges
Your philosophy is generational
And your project is for us to invent
But now, we will miss your courage
IT was bright and sunny in the middle of the day when the boys and I decided to float down the Erap River on our car tube.
We got the tube and followed the river up to Erap Bridge on the Highlands Highway.
Then we followed it further to a village called Kasuka at the junction of upper Erap and Boana.
Reaching the village, we walked down straight down to the river and prepared our tube to float on it.
There are two voices
Always banging on your temple
If you listen carefully, you would hear the two voices
Go left! No go right!
The two voices are always up for a fight
Say yes! Say no!
The two voices are always a foe
That step that one takes
After making that one stake
Is the choice that one makes
To the life that one later forsakes
I feel that I haven’t thanked him enough for the many wondrous things and hidden sacrifices he has made whilst he was still alive and so I wanted to write about his memory knowing that he will be pleased.
I remember that night vividly at about 7pm on 3 November 2008. The Mt Hagen hospital bus came to the house, the driver said our dad was at the hospital and wanted to see us.
I didn’t believe him because dad just left the house with Emmanuel, my fourth-born brother, about 30 minutes before to attend a meeting at a colleague’s house and all had been well.
What could have possibly happened to bring the hospital bus to our door?
I called dad’s phone but it went to voicemail. Bosco, my third-born brother, went with the bus. In a minute or two an ambulance came and picked up me and my little sister Clara.
Dedicated to the late Ian Boden
Alone you stand in life’s memory lane
Sometimes for the world
Sometimes against the world
Enemies came with their swords
You defeated them with your ink
How you make them stumble
How you bring about fame
How you applaud greatness
How you act as a downfall
HAVE you ever been asked a question and you automatically give your answer without thinking, only to realise five seconds later that it was an obvious question or statement?
We seem to state the obvious every minute of our lives but are not aware we’re doing it.
It is one of those social quirks that just exist. It is an unspoken habit that the obvious is one way people begin conversations whether with each other or with strangers.
Asking an obvious question or making an obvious statement, is the first baby step before a conversation flows.
I can confidently say that the obvious is a special form of ice breaker in PNG. Asking the obvious has resulted in many lasting relationships.
If I was a bird of paradise
I would rise up to the sun
Fly above the tree tops where other birds would see me
I would show off my beautiful feathers
I would dance and show off my beautiful colours
I would tell them
I am more beautiful than them
When evening falls,
I would fly down to where humans dwell
And land on the flag pole
Where the Papua New Guinea flag is flying
We would dance together to the rhythm of the wind
And show off our beauty
To tell the nations
ONCE upon a time in a garden there was a little green grasshopper named Oa and a little green caterpillar named Kaipa.
Oa and Kaipa were best friends. Kaipa was much slower than Oa so Oa would always visit Kaipa. Oa and Kaipa lived on an aibika.
Every morning after Oa woke up he would hop over to Kaipa’s leaf and they would eat breakfast together then tell stories. Oa would tell Kaipa about his adventure and Kaipa would listen with great interest.
‘You’re so lucky, Oa,’ said Kaipa. ‘I wish I could go on adventures like you. I wish I could see new places like you do.’ ‘Don’t worry, Kaipa,’ said Oa. ‘You keep eating and I’m sure one day you’ll grow legs and wings like mine; and be able to hop and fly like me.’
IT was his eyes. Light brown eyes.
I'm smiling now thinking about them. They were the perfect colour. When the sun shone from behind him, it looked like it shone right through beautifully coloured stained glass.
I remember looking at his eyes that moment he talked to me. I couldn't help but gaze right back at them. I was mesmerised for a bit too long as I remember him saying - Hey, what's up with you?
Nothing. I was just thinking. Trying to quickly think up something that I was thinking about. I swear, if my skin colour was a bit paler, he would just see my face go red!
There’s a belief that, the will to receive is essentially a desire for creatures to enjoy, corresponding to the abundance and pleasure that comes from the Great Spirit. Creatures great and small, creatures like me, creatures like the weary and cunning Mr. Corvus or busy Polly. Creatures, born into this world with that will, attached like a membrane of the heart.
A gift from the Great Spirit, thought Kito to herself, as her thorax lay in all fragility in the pupal case hanging by the surface of a miniature pond.
Rich with ammonia and carbon dioxide, the pond, mainly damp, was due to the leaking underbelly of a pipe that partly extended into the shower basin of house forty-eight, in the Port Moresby suburb of Tokarara.
Alexandra, Queen of the forest
Your beauty is compared to none
As you soar in style amongst others
You are admired by many
You carry dignity and identity on your wings
You represent the pride of the land
The perimeters of home are within your limit
Every river you know by name
You bear the strength of warriors
Peace thrives in your presence
Alexandra Queen of the forest
Your beauty is compared to none
I looked around and couldn’t see any empty seats. Big momma occupied three quarters of the double seat in the bus.
It was obvious that all the passengers did not want to share that one quarter with big momma.
I looked at big momma.
Goodness me, a generous amount of body, decorated with accessories.
Big momma had huge arms that dangled with bracelets, bangles and gold rings.
WEST Papua is culturally part of the diverse Melanesian society in the south-west Pacific. Melanesia is not a country but a "culture area" - a term used by anthropologists to refer to a geographical region where people share many of the same traits.
In our case, these traits include family structure, marriage rules, social organisation and ways of surviving or making a living.
Melanesia itself is part of the larger Oceania culture area that includes Melanesia, Polynesia, Micronesia and Australasia.
I had a dream the other night that I was sitting by a beautiful creek. And I watched the water flowing slowly down the stream.
I saw all kinds of plants growing near the river. There were trees, ferns and wild flowers.
I was sitting under a big Yomba (cedar) tree on the bank of the river.
The place was cool and peaceful and the birds were singing sweetly in the trees.
The gentle breeze made me want to sleep.
Suddenly the water started turning and I saw some legs. They looked like a monster’s legs but covered with thick long hair. I wondered what it could be.
As I eagerly watched, the water started to bubble.
I looked into the bubbling water and something that looked like a head was slowly rising up.
I could see big bulging eyes staring at me. A pink tongue poked out and tasted the air.
JOHN K KAMASUA
In the work of life in this world, in this time, in this age
There is much work to do.
More faithful workers needed to carry the torch
Over lofty mountains, through valleys deep,
Across rivers swift, in galleys narrow; and across cruel seas
Cannot rest on my laurels, till my work is done
Preserve me in memory’s palm
In the presence of goodness, when I am gone
Though pressed by burden of work
No sound of despair shall escape my breath;
Always the bearer of good tidings,
Even when the rain of plenty stalls
SCHOOL fights have become a serious issue for most schools in Papua New Guinea, especially in Lae, Morobe Province.
It has become routine for students to chase others of their number from schools on to roads and cause havoc and hindrance to the general public and motorists.
Many people blame these school fights on cult groups in schools and have sought the aid of the Provincial Education Department to solve the problem.
The Education Department and the Provincial Governor have come up with zero tolerance on fights and alcohol consumption in schools. If students are caught breaking these rules, they are expelled immediately.
UPE is a traditional hat worn by boys especially in Terra and Rau Constituencies in the Wakunai area, Central Bougainville. The hat is not worn randomly, only in specific rituals.
This may be when young men, especially first born males, are taken high up in the mountain forests of Wakunai to be initiated into manhood. Or on important occasions such as when a prime minister or president visits.
Such ritual grounds are not allowed to be stepped upon by women. The consequence of breaking this taboo is believed to be a curse: sickness or, in worse cases, death. It is believed that nature knows who is at fault when violating the norm.
At such places in the forest, women are not even allowed to cross the ground where the people with the Upe have walked.
The veils of evil we will remove
With force carved within our soul
We will fight with weapons buried within our land
For what we believe in and for what we hope for
Let the wheels of justice turn to our song
As it burn down the camps where greed is nurtured
For our home and for our pride
And for the generations to come
IN an article, Order and Control in Schools, D Orere (2006) said children today are “developing behaviours … which are not expected of them as students.”
This leads to the question of whether corporal punishment should be re-introduced into the education system in Papua New Guinea.
While Orere stressed it would be difficult to impart knowledge to frightened students, there are other reasons for corporal punishment to be reinstated.
Teachers are held responsible and criticised for the wrongdoing of the youngsters even as society becomes more lawless, violent and undisciplined.
This poem is dedicated to my mother and all other women before us
who paved the way for women of this generation to be heard
I am a woman
Clothed with culture
They can’t hear me
I am a woman
Sewn together by religion
Why can’t they hear me?
Take a glimpse at this painting I named my life,
Daubs of memories are splattered far and wide,
They show a picture of my reasons why
So with words I paint,
With my weapon slash brush in my hand,
My mighty and trusty pen
PAPUA New Guinea is among the few nations in the world where ordinary people by virtue of birth can claim to secure access land.
Land in PNG directly supports about 80% of the population, the vast majority of whom live in rural areas.
It is impossible to imagine how PNG could provide for its rural population if villagers had no land. People's attachment to the land is intimately tied to their notions of independence, identity and security.
When the state intrudes on land to exploit natural resources in the name of greater national self-sufficiency, and therefore greater national independence, village people may see it as a new form of colonisation.
An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism
“The optimist sees opportunity in every danger; the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity” - Winston Churchill
LUKSAVE - a Tok Pisin word that means to acknowledge those people that you know.
Luksave is commonly expressed in Papua New Guinea to mean that one is obliged to recognise those who have helped the process of making a claim by paying certain tips or commission.