BY JEFFREY MANE FEBI
Candidate for the Lufa Open Electorate, 2012 Papua New Guinea National Elections
“Mane!” I turned and saw my concerned mother. The wrinkles around her eyes have grown, her hair is more grey. And, clutched firmly in her palm at the end of a frail extended arm, a kaukau. “You must eat,” her voice sounding the more alarming because of its concern.
The scene was more of a successful gathering than one of failure but I, with less than zero experience in crowd control and management, was more worried than every other person who approached to greet me.
After I nominated to officially become a candidate for the Lufa Open Electorate in the Eastern Highlands, I met the crowd. They didn’t come in hundreds; there were over a thousand people.
Men, women, boys, girls, children and babies; some had walked hundreds of miles, taking days to arrive at Lufa government station to witness this event.
Others have flown to Goroka then caught rides on PMVs (public motor vehicles) to Lufa. They are the people of remote rural Lufa; those who sing: ‘They call use camels; they call us white horses; they call us semi-trailers…’
The ensuing excitement and confusion (as I saw it) was over a thousand voices to listen to and innumerable hands to shake and many more bodies to hug. It was overwhelming.
I thought there was no order, and something was brewing. Any moment from now it would burst and someone would be hurt. A child, a man, a woman, anyone…
Just to feed such a crowd was no easy task. A group of men and women in their mid-30s made it seem less arduous. They, young and untested, worked on - and on.
I, on the other hand, with less village experience and knowledge, couldn’t envision a successful ending.
This, coupled with the day’s heat and smell of the crowd, almost laid the foundations for a brain explosion.
As the election days unravel along with their latent challenges, I am hoping and praying I’ll be able to cope.
Jeff Febi is an award-winning writer and poet, a regular contributor to PNG Attitude and an aspiring politician