Forget your McMansions – my AR10 was heaven on earth
A bamboo trap killed his son in the sugarcane garden

Is it just us - or is the whole world stupid?

The implicit mental absurdityFRANCIS NII

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Short Stories

THERE are some things that human beings - to be specific Papua New Guineans - do that, when I consider them critically, I find to be so absurd as to wonder whether they have brains.

There was this mother selling taro nicely creamed in coconut oil with spring onion and garlic puree. You could smell it from afar.

Her grown-up girl came back from school and she was hungry. The mother gave her one kina from the money she had earned from the sale of the taro and told her to buy a bun known as dry scone.

The girl grinned and walked to the nearest bun seller, got herself a dry scone and sated her hunger while other people bought taro from her mother for one kina and ate it with coconut milk and garlic and onion soup served on plate. A delicious and healthy snack.

Another time I saw a woman selling oranges at our small market at the hospital’s front gate for K1 50. Her little kid came crying to her for something. Instead of giving the child an orange, the mother gave her a kina and told the kid to buy a bottle of Tang.

The kid ran to the Tang seller and, wearing a broad smile, came back carrying a bottle of the sugary beverage.

There is a fisherman from Wara Simbu who catches trout in the river. Each time he catches a big one, he sells it. With the money, he buys lamb flaps, an animal product classified as health hazard and unfit for human consumption in Australia and New Zealand.

There it’s processed into animal feed but it also floods PNG supermarkets because dogs and Simbu fishermen likes it.

I see many coastal people doing the same thing. They toil in the rough seas, fighting the wind, rain and sun, to catch fish to sell them at the market.

After they sell everything, they buy lamb flaps and tinned fish full of additives and little quantity and take them home to eat.

A mother and daughter sold English potatoes at the main market. In the evening they bought a packet of rice to take home. Before catching a PMV, they were in one of the Chinese fast food places eating potato chips.

Whenever I think about these things, it makes me wonder which part of their body these people use for thinking. It can’t be their brains.

And I wonder whether there are people like them in Australia, New Zealand and other countries or do we only have them in Papua New Guinea


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John Kaupa Kamasua

Francis - Just one more: there is a health message in here somewhere.

After these years, I have learned to "listen" to my body. I am not a health guru, but I tend to know just roughly when my body needs a pack of chicken and chips, or a well-cooked and balanced meal, or when to indulge in some "sweet."

However, I will definitely have a problem with an individual who sticks to only one form of diet for a very long time, or as an habit: like junk food, or dry carbohydrates, or a lot of protein and fats all the time.

As a rule of thumb, variation and general quality in diet is better than quantity.

Jimmy Awagl

The term stupidity may sound obsessive to people of other cultural backgrounds, but generally for typical Papua New Guineans it's a terminology of culture used in everyday language.

People use it to depict the action and conduct of someone else and it becomes a daily language.

Francis has expressed a current trend taking dominion in the lives of ordinary PNGuineans acculturating from a subsistence life to modern lifestyles.

A great analogy on the life transformation undermining one thing to afford another as perceptions change to think that the new is better than the old.

Michael Dom

I once saw an expatriate businessman at the old Jackson's Airport reach into the pocket of his business jacket, take out a silver cigar holder and remove a long Spear.

He lit up that long black tobacco roll and smoked it in complete contentment.


Francis Nii

Thank you all for your comment.

These are some things that we come across almost everyday but take little or no interest in them because they appear trivial or insignificant to our eyes or they don't affect us.

But on the aggregate, they reflect our people's level of intellect, their ability to reason things and their general attitude which many times consequently entail in lifestyle diseases and other health issues.

Thus our people need to be educated to change from such stupidity.

Chris Overland

Stupidity is perhaps more accurately described as chronic bad judgement.

It seems to be an enduring feature of a small but not insignificant minority of people: something to do with an under developed frontal lobe of the brain, which is the bit that controls risk assessment, problem solving and decision making processes.

The ability to make bad choices on a consistent basis seems to be more obvious these days, especially because we live in such a "joined up" world.

The internet enables the latest examples of rank stupidity to be flashed around the world in nanoseconds.

Because of this, we may be given a false impression of our fellow human beings. Surely, stupidity is not that prevalent?

I like to comfort myself with the fond hope that most people are actually fairly sensible. I have no definitive proof of this but enough sensible things happen on a daily basis to make me feel that it is true.

Being sensible, measured and moderate is not the stuff of hot news stories, so it is virtually never reported.

The media revels in the doings of the stupid, the venal, the narcissistic and the cruel. It is the path to sales and ratings.

Most of us can only look on while feeling either bemused or bewildered or, sometimes, just appalled.

Take heart Francis, you are not alone.

Tuhas M de Vries

When I asked people who grew beautiful healthy garden food why they sell it and feed themselves store food and chips etc at the Kaikai bars they indicated that they did not want to percieved as uneducated village people and by eating non garden foods let the outside world that they were civilised.....hmmm...there was not much I could say after that as it seems the civilised world has already set the standard.

Lapieh Landu

Oh the list is endless....

We start eating out of sachets that are supposed to be properly mixed with water and drunk;

We settle for scone and cordial as breaky, lunch and dinner when we opt for healthier market produce;

We overload our vehicles still, despite the rise in the death toll of road accidents from overloading;

We consume alcohol like there is no tomorrow;

We have no regard for rules/regulations, we are all leaders!

Yes, stupidity or just plain ignorance!

Michael Dom

The whole world is where you are and sometimes it's stupid there.

Where you are not is a story or hearsay. Believing that elsewhere is never stupid may be unwise thought.

Perhaps the potential for stupidity abounds as a by-product of human intelligence and endeavour.

Animals have only instinct survival, humans have the learned behaviour of action and reward.

Stupid does what stupid is.

John Kaupa Kamasua

Francis - Talk about taking the goodness of the earth that is good for our well-being... Instead people opt for junkies in the Chinese stores and supermarkets.

Call us whatever name you see fit, we fit all sizes and descriptions!

Philip G Kaupa

In my village, people buttered noodles on to rice thinking that it is a cheap and highly processed protein package. I think it is all about the lack of knowledge on food nutrition. I hate to see what I just read.

Arnold Mundua

Francis, I hate to say it but sometimes our behaviour is like scenes extracted from 'The Gods Must Be Crazy' movies, that is, we don't think and analyse before doing something.

Robin Lillicrapp

I think you know the the answer already, Francis. What you describe is indeed a malady of madness in Australia too.

Shhh! Don't speak out loud. There are industries that prosper from this affliction.

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