CONTEST CLOSES TUESDAY 30 JUNE
K41,000 in PRIZEMONEY
535 entries registered
Poetry 197; Essay 153; Story 96; Children 30; Heritage 24; Illustration 16; Tourism Arts Culture 12; Book of the Year 7
ROSARY Secondary School at Kondiu in Simbu Province burst into life a week ago with students, teachers, a singsing group, local police and the community converging in the Bishop Cohill Auditorium.
They were there for the 2015 Simbu Writers Association (SWA) school debate and quiz contests and literary awards presentation.
Normally, it is inter-school sports or athletic competitions that bring schools together. More rarely, schools get together for other reasons. This was one of them
The event was made possible by the SWA through its pioneering endeavour, Simbu for Literary Excellence, that attracted and united provincial high schools and secondary schools.
READ a good book lately? Want to share it with someone?
Written a good book lately? Want to spread it around?
Thought about giving it away so other people can enjoy reading it?
Passing books on gratis is a long standing and underrated tradition.
I’ve read thousands of books in my lifetime but my bookshelves only house a few hundred favourites.
Most of what I read nowadays, unless it’s spectacularly good, ends up in our local Red Cross opportunity shop, sometimes via a few odd relatives and friends.
AS this piece goes to print, the on-line petition to get books authored by Papua New Guineans into PNG schools has passed 100 signatures.
Haven’t signed up yet? Can I encourage you to do so?
If ever there was cause worth spending a free minute to support, and which will advantage each spirit it touches, it is this one.
Right now we stand on the crest of a literary peak PNG has not seen since those heady years around Independence.
AS we are get closer to the tail end of the 2015 Crocodile Prize writing season (entries close on Tuesday 30 June), it’s probably time to introduce the man responsible for the Anthology covers.
Joe Bilbu has been designing the covers since 2012 and he also provided the logo adopted by Pukpuk Publishing.
This year he has had the difficult task of coming up with a cover that reflected our signature pukpuk and that the competition workshop and awards will be held in the highlands for the first time.
We think he’s come up with a gem of a cover that does the job admirably.
Joe hails from Babakau Village (BBKings), down the coast from Port Moresby and just off the Magi Highway.
He now lives in Fiji with his Fijian wife, Milika, and their three children, Carlene (19), Joe Hendrix (12) and Grace Leona (7).
I’VE always suspected that the reason why most politicians in Papua New Guinea don’t support writers is because they are scared of what might be written about them.
Either that or it’s because they are basically dumb and don’t read themselves and do not see any point in funding literature or having a literate society.
Our previous conservative premier in Queensland, Campbell Newman, was one of those. One of his earliest initiatives was abolishing the Premier’s Literary Award and giving the money to a TV network to produce a really silly reality program.
Having read the PNG Parliamentary Speaker’s diatribe, ‘2015 – The Year of Crossing Over to the Other Side’ on the National Parliament website, I’m more inclined to favour this dumb (really, really dumb) option.
That said, I’m also wary about allowing governments into the literary mix for the simple reason of the control this might give them over what is written and published.
AWARD-winning Papua New Guinean poet, Michael Dom – on behalf of the Crocodile Prize Organisation – has launched a petition to persuade the PNG parliament to provide funding to get PNG-authored books into PNG’s 4,000 schools.
The petition, which you can link to at the end of this story, seeks parliamentary approval for “an Independence gift to the children of PNG in the form of making the five annual Crocodile Prize Anthologies 2011-15 available to all PNG schools”.
It suggests also that parliamentarians each year allocate some of their DSIP (district improvement) budgets to ensure that every school in their electorate has an increasing number of books written by Papua New Guinean authors.
At present, about a dozen new books each year are being published by established and emerging local writers.
“Papua New Guinean school children should be reading literature that was authored by their wantoks,” the petition says.
THESE are the trophies that, in September, will travel from their place of manufacture in south-east Queensland to the Papua New Guinea highlands to be presented to the winners of this year’s Crocodile Prize.
Along with K5,000 prize money in each of the eight award categories, travel and accommodation to the event at Kundiawa and guaranteed publication in the 2015 Anthology, they represent the reward for outstanding talent and effort.
SOMETIMES we try to cook up convincing arguments to back up our case. Sometimes someone else gives us the arguments.
But last night, while thinking about whether to petition Papua New Guinea’s parliament to provide more PNG-authored books to our schools - and whether or not it was a good idea - a simple thing happened that galvanised my confidence that a petition is the right thing to do.
I’m studying in South Australia and my partner Isidora was at home in PNG giving baking lessons to a colleague’s young daughters.
While they were relaxing in the lounge waiting for the dough to rise, the girls happened to come across a copy of my first book, At Another Crossroads, sitting on the coffee table.
PAPUA New Guineans need to be reading literature that was authored by Papua New Guineans.
But PNG authors have not been supported to create literature that encompasses our heritage, tells PNG stories in novels, expresses PNG perceptions through poetry or explains PNG thinking through essays.
The Crocodile Prize is a national literary competition established to provide incentive and support for writers, poets and essayists to do just that.
It started on a wing-and-a-prayer and is now supported by several companies and private individuals who believe that literature is an important tool for the development of a national identity.
ALONG with Papua New Guinean friends, I want to petition the National Parliament of PNG and the Speaker to purchase 5,000 books - 1,000 copies each of the five Crocodile Prize Anthologies from 2011 to 2015.
Regardless of the opinion each one of us may have on the issue of the King James Version Bible, one point cannot be denied - a lot of money was spent to acquire it.
Therefore, two questions, among many, which citizens have a right to ask are:
(1) How else might all this money have been used?
(2) Can we put the same effort and funding into buying PNG literature for our schools?
PRESIDENT of the Crocodile Prize Organisation, COG, Jimmy Drekore, will attend the annual Brisbane Writers Festival from 4-6 September this year.
The Festival is a great meeting place for people associated with literature in Australia and overseas – authors, journalists, administrators, supporters and readers.
COG member Bob Cleland has been dealing with Festival organisers, who say they are keen, in future years, to have Papua New Guinea officially represented in the festival.
IT is unlikely the Crocodile Prize literary contest, now in its fifth year, would have got off the ground in 2011 without the support of then Australian high commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Ian Kemish.
At a time when the Prize required financial and material support, and had no track record to point to, Mr Kemish came to aid of what has been a fruitful initiative. The Crocodile Prize project, run entirely on voluntary effort, has shown itself to be of real benefit to PNG.
During their stay in PNG, Ian Kemish and his wife Roxanne Martens were respected throughout the country for their willingness to go out of their way to support worthwhile endeavours.
Ms Martens threw her weight behind a number of projects including Safe Motherhood Alliance of PNG, the PNG Cancer Council and the Port Moresby General Hospital Special Care Nursery.
A much-awaited meeting of Port Moresby writers was held last Friday in the Kuri Dom Building at the Waigani campus of the University of PNG.
And, apart from the good roll up of 21 people who attended the meeting, many others sent emails to register their interest to be involved in future events.
Many people thanked me for the concept and said they looked forward to getting involved in what we will be doing in Port Moresby.
When the meeting began, I welcomed participants and outlined the rationale for floating the idea, including the need to formally organise writers in Port Moresby through an association.
LAST Monday afternoon was a historic moment for the Simbu Children Foundation and Simbu Writer’s Association.
A high profile six-person Digicel Foundation delegation, led by chief operations officer Jennifer McConnell, travelled to Kundiawa for an on-camera interview with Jimmy Drekore, founding president of both organisations, who is one of the three people shortlisted for this year’s PNG Community Leader.
The Digicel Foundation is the charity arm of the largest communication company in Papua New Guinea, Digicel Ltd.
The visit was triggered by the nomination of Mr Drekore in the 2014 Digicel Man of the Year Award by Amos Wama, who is working with the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
If he wins this category, Mr Drekore will proceed to the final, competing against the winners of five other categories for the overall Man of Honour Award.
FORMER long-serving Papua New Guinean politician and government minister, Dame Carol Kidu DBE, has accepted an invitation from the Crocodile Prize Organisation to become its first Patron.
As leader of the Melanesian Alliance Party, Dame Carol served in parliament for 11 years including nine years as PNG’s Minister for Community Development.
She was leader of the opposition for a short period before her retirement from politics in 2012.
Dame Carol is a Fellow of the Lowy Institute for International Policy and sits on the boards of Bougainville Copper Ltd, the Pacific Institute of Public Policy and Nationwide Microbank.
I was disappointed and annoyed to see Dr Kristian Lasslett’s unnecessary, irrelevant and (in matters I am personally involved in) factually incorrect comment about the Paga Hill Development Company’s (PHDC) sponsorship of the Writing for Children Award in the Crocodile Prize.
In my view, Dr Lasslett's continuing vilification of the chief executive officer of PHDC is defamatory and it makes no sense to me.
I am also aware of what has been criticised as his unbalanced and damaging "investigations" concerning Bougainville and Bougainville Copper Ltd.
Dr Lasslett may be an expert on international human rights documents but he is not an expert in the Papua New Guinea context nor in the cultural frameworks in which we have to operate and to which such international conventions cannot and should not be literally applied.
WRITING for children seems like a straightforward thing to do. No big words, keep the storyline simple and include a moral of some sort. How easy can that be?
Unfortunately it’s not easy at all. In fact, writing for children is much harder than writing for adults.
The key, just like writing for adults, is to know your audience. However, where knowing what adults might enjoy is reasonably simple, an audience of children is made up of infinite variables.
Children are complicated little creatures with developing intellects, complex foibles, unexplainable hang-ups and evolving perspectives. This produces a bewildering and sometimes perverse world view that is changeable and open to all sorts of influences.
A prolific contributor to PNG Attitude and academic at the University of Papua New Guinea is the most recent member appointed to the Crocodile Prize Organisation, COG, the group that administers the affairs of PNG’s national literary contest.
John Kaupa Kamasua, originally from Simbu Province, is a senior lecturer and leader of the social work strand at UPNG, where he been an academic for more than 10 years.
He has a Master of Arts from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom where he studied following his first degree at UPNG.
And he says that, when he settles into his role with COG, he will “contemplate organising writers in Port Moresby around an association” – and we certainly encourage him to pursue this goal.
The Award for Writing for Children in the Crocodile Prize
is sponsored by the Paga Hill Development Company
WRITING for children is a much tougher assignment than writing for adults.
Simplicity of sentence structure and vocabulary are not so simple in creation. They require technical discipline – and an understanding of what children want.
In the Crocodile Prize, we’ve set an age of around 12 as the maximum you should be aiming for in your writing. Your story should not be longer than about 800 words and it needs to be on a subject that engages children of ages up to that.
And what do these children like? They like to laugh, they like to be excited, they like to see problems solved, they like to learn, they like to see embarrassment successfully resolved and they like to see heroes (protagonists) who are like themselves.
An Australian cartoonist and illustrator points to the scarcity of illustrators in Papua New Guinea, a shortage that the Crocodile Prize is seeking to address through the SP Brewery Award for Illustration ….
IN 2013 Geoscience Australia commissioned me to illustrate some booklets they were preparing about natural hazards. Specifically: volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunami.
This was a joint project with geological agencies in Papua New Guinea, with the booklets to be distributed to local PNG communities – especially volcanically-active towns like Rabaul.
One key aspect of the project was the need for the illustrations to be relevant for the local Papua New Guinea communities. Geoscience Australia had previously tried to engage local artists from PNG to illustrate the booklets, but nothing could be confirmed.
THAT Papua New Guinea is a nation of art and artists is a contention beyond dispute. Even the most fleeting visit to the country is sufficient to demonstrate it.
But when we take to the Internet to find evidence and examples of indigenous Papua New Guinean illustration, there is precious little.
Indeed there seem to be far more illustrations featuring PNG and its people by overseas artists than there are by locals. And some companies are making good money from it.
This is one reason, of course, why we have established the SP Brewery Award for Illustration within the Crocodile Prize. We hope to improve things to the point that, when you search for 'PNG illustration', you are swamped with the real thing.
“WHERE’S the children’s story contest,” was a question pitched at me in a number of emails after we announced the 2015 Crocodile Prize awards in November.
Well, truth be told, we were awaiting advice from the previous sponsor, Buk bilong Pikinini, to confirm whether they’d continue this year. It was advice that never came.
So we were absolutely delighted when late last week the Paga Hill Development Company offered to fill the gap.
As the company’s CEO, Gudmundur Fridriksson, said: “It’s an award which will result in more locally written material being made available to children of all ages in PNG. The love of language and joy of reading at an early age is a wonderful and powerful gift.”
Absolutely true – and we hope Papua New Guinea’s writers take this as their cue to begin drafting their stories for children up to the age of about 12.
THE Paga Hill Development Company is sponsoring the Writing for Children Award, initiated successfully last year, in the 2015 Crocodile Prize.
Paga Hill Development Company (PNG) Ltd (PHDC), which you can read more about here, is a privately held, PNG registered company, with the majority of its shareholders from Papua New Guinea.
PHDC is developing a quality mixed residential and commercial estate on Port Moresby’s Paga Hill which will be a world class precinct for residents, visitors and tourists.
In achieving this, the company and the community have faced a number of challenges but with the support of Dame Carol Kidu and her community engagement team, a comprehensive resettlement program has been completed for the Paga Hill settlers whereby resettled families have secured tenure in their own block of land at Tagua, Six Mile.
THIS year’s Crocodile Prize offers a wonderful new award – the SP Brewery Award for Illustration - and Papua New Guinean illustrators, cartoonists, graphic artists, caricaturists and designers really ought to enter.
If you draw, design or paint you should think seriously about entering this contest. And if you know someone with these splendid skills, you should encourage them to enter the contest. There is K5,000 at stake and many other benefits besides.
You can find more information here.
Today I want to take a bit of your time looking at the art of political cartooning in Papua New Guinea. This is one area that illustrators might like to explore in their entries. There are others – like illustration and design - that will be examined in future articles.
Probably PNG’s most eminent cartoonist, ever, was the late Bob Browne. It has been said that Bob “provided a generation of Papua New Guineans with a deeply insightful and often hilarious commentary on life in the region - especially its political processes”.
AS early entries in this year’s Crocodile Prize soar way past the century mark (can we achieve 1,000 contributions this year), it is timely to look at how you – the writer or potential writer – can maximise your chances of winning an award.
A Crocodile Prize award is a great award to win, both in terms of the honour and the benefits.
In addition to the K5,000 cash prize and pride of place in the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2015, you’ll be flown to Kundiawa and accommodated there to attend the two-day award event organised by the Simbu Writers Association.
IN September, Keith Jackson wrote in PNG Attitude: “More than 800 copies of the Crocodile Prize Anthology costing over $8,000 are now being distributed free of charge throughout Papua New Guinea, mainly to schools and libraries but also to tertiary institutions and members of parliament.” (The number has since increased to over 1,000.)
Jackson continued: “This is fulfilling the second leg of the Prize’s ‘contract’ with the people of PNG – which is not only to encourage and reward writers but to ensure their work is published and made available to readers throughout the country….”
In this article, I want to report on the distribution effort in the Gulf Province which began as a small attempt to get the book on to the laps of kids and which turned into a movement to revive a rich writing heritage, support overall literacy and re-open closed school libraries.
This is our Gulf Province ‘distribution’ story.
IN 2010 Keith Jackson and I established the Crocodile Prize to help rejuvenate the flagging literary scene in Papua New Guinea.
At the first writers’ workshop at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby in 2011, we and the writers endeavoured to plot a road ahead for the competition.
In the second row there was a gentleman sitting in an old wheelchair listening intently to what everyone had to say. Now and again he joined in the conversation.
At first I didn’t make the connection. In his submissions to the Crocodile Prize competition and his contributions to PNG Attitude, which is the central support agent for our endeavours, Francis Nii had not once mentioned that he was a paraplegic.
THE long awaited 2014 Crocodile Prize Anthology has arrived in Simbu to begin its 2015 mission.
I was wondering how long it would take for the anthologies to arrive in Kundiawa all the way from the United States after I was granted 10 copies to distribute to rural schools in the Yongomugl area.
I frequently visited the Kundiawa post office and enquired at the counter over those four months.
I expressed my concern to prove to the post master that I was entitled to collect the books.
“Give me your name and box number,” he demanded.
THERE are unexpected drawbacks in running something like the Crocodile Prize national literary award in Papua New Guinea.
Like some sponsors, who make all sorts of promises and lead you up the garden path and wait until you’ve made irrevocable commitments before pulling the rug out from under you.
Or people who promise faithfully to do certain things and then blithely ignore them.
Then there are things that are a bit more inexplicable.
A case in point is the delivery of copies of the anthology and some of the other books that have spun out of the competition.
As a publisher, Pukpuk Publishing has duly despatched copies of its books to the National Library in Port Moresby. This is a statutory requirement but is mostly ignored by publishers in Papua New Guinea and Australia.
The books have been sent by post and were addressed to the Chief Librarian by name. None of them arrived.
KERENGA Kua, former Attorney-General and a man considered one of a Papua New Guinea's leading politicians, was holding his breath and looking extremely impressed.
Soon after, while the presentation of certificates was proceeding, Mr Kua left his seat and came to where Jimmy Drekore, Ware Mukale and I were sitting.
“You guys are doing something great that I didn’t know about,” he said, referring to the Crocodile Prize and the activities of the Simbu Writers Association.
And Mr Kua (pictured here with Jimmy Drekore) put his enthusiasm to work by committing K20,000 to SWA from the 2015 District Services Improvement Fund.
The Crocodile Prize Anthology 2014 was one of the books amongst the literary wealth of the Simbu Writers Association that was on display at the recent Ku High School Grade 10 graduation in Simbu.
DIVINE Word University’s Friendship Library was officially opened on 29 April 2004, named so to recognise the special bond that exists between the people of PNG and the people of Australia, which provided the funding.
The library collection is much older – dating back to the 1960s and the days of the earlier SVD high school.
By 1979 the collection was augmented to support the new Divine Word Institute curriculum. And when Divine Word University was established in 1996, the collection developed further.
The Friendship Library offers resources in all media formats complemented by broadband internet, online databases and journals, facilities for electronic document transmission and data storage.
The main objective of the library is to work with the academic community to offer maximum support for the university’s mission and its teaching and research programs. It has become a vibrant centre for students, researchers and staff.
THE Crocodile Prize writing season – which lasts until Tuesday 30 June next year – began yesterday.
There are six different writing contests – covering stories, poetry and essays - and one contest for illustration.
The other award is for a lifetime contribution to PNG literature.
If you enjoy writing, then there’s certainly something for you in Papua New Guinea’s literary awards.
THE Crocodile Prize is once again open for business.
From today, Papua New Guinea’s writers – and, for the first time, artists – can enter a national contest that culminates in September each year with recognition of the very best in creative endeavour.
In launching the 2015 contest, chairman of the Crocodile Prize Organisation, COG, Jimmy Drekore, said the organisation was proud to introduce an award for artists, the SP Brewery Award for Illustration.
He also said the Prize still needs more sponsors (see following story).
Crocodile Prize entrants can select from a range of creative categories. There is no limit on the entries that can be made although Prize organisers emphasise that “quality will always triumph over quantity”.
THE Crocodile Prize Organisation today announced the sponsors of the fifth year of Papua New Guinea’s national writing awards.
Chairman Jimmy Drekore (pictured) also has confirmed that next year’s awards event will be held in Kundiawa on 18 and 19 September, the first time it has been celebrated outside Port Moresby.
Mr Drekore said the sponsors’ roster for 2015 includes the PNG Government, SP Brewery, Ok Tedi Mining, Kina Securities, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, and the family of former colonial Administrator Sir Donald Cleland and his wife Dame Rachel Cleland.
The PNGAA Publishing Program is also renewed for a second year, which ensures that at least 500 copies of the Crocodile Prize Anthology will be distributed free of charge to PNG libraries and schools.
THE Crocodile Prize Anthology 2014 has so reached the Department of PNG Studies and International Relations, the Department of Communication Arts and Divine Word University’s Friendship library.
The Department of PNG Studies and International Relations houses the Bachelor’s degree that writer Leonard Fong Roka and his comrades qualified for as they completed their university studies this year.
The PNG Studies and International Relations program offers a unique degree merging social science disciplines like community development, anthropology, gender studies, literature, history, politics and international relations.
The cross cutting nature of the program ensures that students are empowered with a variety of knowledge and skills tailored to the PNG experience.
THERE would have been no Crocodile Prize national literary awards in Papua New Guinea if it wasn’t for the steady hand of Australian High Commissioner Ian Kemish in 2010.
Mr Kemish settled down some nervous nellies at the High Commission who counselled against involvement in a project that was not the brainchild of a team of consultants or an Australian bureaucrat trying to get some runs on the board.
The then High Commissioner provided a stable platform from which an idea could grow.
So yesterday, when I received the briefest of emails from Andrew Gavin, First Secretary (Public Diplomacy) at the High Commission in Port Moresby, advising that the previous sponsorship of $3,000 would not be renewed in 2015, I felt disappointed that a relationship had been severed that was so instrumental in getting the Prize established.
PUKPUK Publishing received an honourable mention in yesterday’s review of the Crocodile Prize Anthology 2015 by Drusilla Modjeska in The Australian newspaper.
And it would be a fair question for readers to ask, ‘Well, what is this upstart? Where does it fit in?’
Like the Crocodile Prize and PNG Attitude, Pukpuk Publishing is a voluntary, not-for-profit project established to both strengthen the Papua New Guinea-Australia relationship and to ensure authors and poets writing about PNG can achieve publication for their work.
In the case of Pukpuk Publishing, its objective is to bring long-form works to publication and to take those books to market in a coherent way.
The entity is the brainchild of Phil Fitzpatrick and it spun out of his magnificent work to bring the Crocodile Prize Anthology to print, which it has done each year since 2011 - even in the fallow period of 2013.
THE fifth Crocodile Prize national literary contest will kick off on Monday 24 November in what promises to be a big year for Papua New Guinea’s writers.
The contest will culminate in September next year when, for the first time, the awards event moves outside Port Moresby for two days of activity at Kundiawa in Simbu Province.
The Simbu Writers Association is working in close cooperation with provincial authorities to ensure the success of the event and a budget of K110,000 has been targeted.
Meanwhile the Crocodile Prize Organisation has its eyes on a sponsorship budget of about K100,000 to fund prizes, book production, publicity and other activities.
THE second planning meeting for the 2015 Crocodile Prize event in September was held recently at Rosary Secondary School, Kondiu, in Simbu Province.
It was for the very first time the Simbu Writers Association (SWA) had met outside the capital, Kundiawa.
SWA president and Crocodile Organisation, COG, chairman Jimmy Drekore thanked Kondiu principal, Gabriel Aina, and seven teachers who were at the meeting. He also praised young writers, Tom Kaupa and Nolai Kin, who were in attendance.
Mr Aina commended SWA for “leading educated Simbu people to come together like this to express themselves from their little world and to interact with one another.
I feel that September’s 2014 Crocodile Prize writers’ seminar held at the National Library’s American Corner did some justice to me as a struggling Bougainvillean author.
And visiting Australian author Trevor Shearston ahsd some welcome words for me as a lone Bougainvillean voice.
“Your writing is unique, Leonard,” he said to me, “but you only need to do away with trying to dictate to your readers what they should see in your texts or stories.”
As a lone mushroom, I sprouted in Bougainville’s Arawa High School in 1997, encouraged by my New Guinean teacher William Mania and Kiwi ornithologist and author Don Hadden.
THE Simbu Writers Association is only six months old as a writing organisation but it is already gearing up for two major activities to accomplish in September 2015.
Over the weekend, the seven-member committee met to deliberate on how the SWA will host and manage the 2015 Crocodile Prize in Kundiawa.
Also on the agenda was the second year of promoting the home-grown concept of ‘Simbu for Literary Excellence’ which involves all high schools in the province in literary and related activities.
The committee got together at 11:00 Saturday at Gum Tree Lookout in Kundiawa. The members were pleased to welcome Jimmy Drekore, recently appointed chairman of the Crocodile Prize Organisation and also SWA president.
IT was the coastal trawler MV Solomon Queen which took me away that February afternoon in 2011.
I was carried away from my Solomon island of Bougainville across the Solomon Sea to the New Guinean town of Rabaul in East New Britain.
Then, after a few hours catching up with relatives from Ragunai village, I left on the ill-fated MV Rabaul Queen for Kimbe and on to Lae.
In 2013, the Rabaul Queen was to sink in bad weather with heavy loss of life.
From Lae we hit the highway through the Markham Valley, over rugged terrain into Madang Province and thence to Madang town’s Divine Word University.
It was a three day journey from Bougainville to Madang that finally had me stuck to the university for four years.
IT was 15 September just past and I had returned to Port Moresby for the 2014 Crocodile Prize literary awards.
From the air looking down, Port Moresby was shimmering under the dust emanating from the plethora of road and building construction.
As usual, the savannah grassland surrounding the city had patches of black from burning and torching mostly by Eastern Highlanders and Simbus who, as if they own the landscape, use fire to clear the land of weeds to plant corn and peanuts to feed the growing population.
The smoke produced by these fires added to the thick haze.
Still, it was a good feeling coming home to this unforgiving city that is unfairly ranked by The Economist Intelligence Unit as one of the 10 most dangerous cities to live in.
THE Crocodile Prize Organisation has been boosted in 2014-15 by the appointment of Oala Moi as its media director.
Oala, from Port Moresby, is press secretary to Boka Kondra, Papua New Guinea’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
He was educated at the University of Papua New Guinea from where he graduated with a degree in public administration in 2002.
After leaving university, Oala spent nine years working in PNG’s National Disaster Centre where he rose to a senior role specialising in disaster response.
He was a team member on the 2007 Cyclone Guba and flood disaster in Oro Province and the 2008 king tide disaster in PNG’s maritime provinces.
‘IN perpetuity’, this legal term has a welcome sound to it. Perpetual, permanent, unending, eternal, and that’s just the start of it.
At the tail-end of the fourth pukpuk prize presentations, I would like us each to reflect about the future of The Crocodile Prize, and this word; perpetuity.
It is a big part of what writers and poets wish to see for their literary contributions, no matter how small the work.
I was recently honoured to receive a request from the Commonwealth Education Trust, based in London England, to have a poem placed in their anthology A River of Stories, Tales and Poems from across the Commonwealth.
AWARD winning Papua New Guinean writer and founder of the Simbu Children Foundation, Jimmy Drekore BSc, has been appointed inaugural Chairman of the Crocodile Prize Organisation, COG.
Jimmy, 38, from Kundiawa, is an industrial chemist by profession who retired from Newcrest Mining’s Lihir gold mine in 2013 after 14 years with the company.
He returned home to work with the Simbu Children Foundation, one of PNG’s most successful home grown charities which he had founded in 2004.
He is also Chairman of the Kundiawa-based company, Organic Mountain Produce (OMP), which was established this year.
Jimmy will be supported in his leadership role at COG by Phil Fitzpatrick as Publishing Director and by me as Executive Director as well as by a revamped COG committee.
KEITH sends his regrets at not being able to attend tonight, but it is an honour for me to be invited to speak in his place and I am proud to be following his footsteps in PNG.
Congratulations to all our winners – Iriani Wanma, Leonard Fong Roka, Agnes Maineke, Arnold Mundua, Diddie Kinamun Jackson, Sil Bolkin and Sir Paulias Matane.
I also want to take his opportunity to congratulate every person that submitted entries to the Crocodile Prize, because you put the flesh on the bones of the crocodile.
IF you live in Papua New Guinea, there tend to be more downs than ups. Fortunately people are able to adjust and improvise and life goes on.
And so it was with the 2014 Crocodile Prize Workshop and Awards.
For our part, we know it is always wise to arrive in Papua New Guinea a couple of days early to sort out any unforeseen problems.
This year the venue for the Writers’ Workshop was the American Corner in the National Library.
Through a series of ill-advised maintenance contracts that have the unfortunate taint of cronyism about them, the library had managed to exhaust its operational funds and two weeks prior to our arrival had its electricity turned off because it couldn’t pay its bill.
This is an all too common occurrence in Papua New Guinea. True to form nobody had thought to tell us about it.
AT Kundiawa airport in mid-September an informal session with the an experienced politician and a public servant gave in sights into how Simbu and other PNG politicians perceive non-government organisations.
At 12 noon on the Saturday, I was with former politicians and current public servants as they chatted among themselves on the issue of recognising the difference between the words critique, criticise, comment and condemn.
The hottest debate was between Mathias Kin (pictured) and ex-politician Peter Gul.
Peter Gul was the former Premier of Simbu Province (1984-86). He is the current protocol officer of the Simbu Governor.
He never had a university education but, after , completing Grade 10, he mastered a good command of English. He is said to be a keen learner and ‘a scholar from the streets’.
He highlighted that he was taught without books and what he learned was mainly through living a hard life.