BUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO
An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism
IT is almost the norm whenever one travels around Papua New Guinea to find kids and adults swearing using very strong derogatory and excessive language.
And top of the list is the infamous phrase ‘Kaikai K’.
From my own personal experience since moving into my current residence three years ago, the phrase “kaikai k—“ (referring either to a male or female sexual organ) is commonly used in everyday conversation that a non-Pidgin speaker could mistakenly infer to mean something less degrading.
What makes this practice frightening is the reality that parents are not taking measures to stop this behaviour getting out of hand. It is even more worrying that the use of extreme language is fast becoming a norm in PNG.
Furthermore, parents use such words when scolding their children or abusing each other when they get into fights. The frequent use of this language by parents may largely explain why kids are seen swearing without hesitation in the presence of others.
I am very concerned with the excessive use of coarse language by the community in which I live because I fear that my kids will be influenced into this imitating this degrading behaviour.
For instance, my youngest brother gets along well with most kids and he spends most of his afternoons playing with them in our yard. At first I approved of his friendship given that he now has friends to play with, however, as time went by I began to discern the dysfunctional attitude and behaviour of his friends and I took measures to isolate him from them.
Although he hates me because he feels I am depriving his right to have friends, deep down I can tell that he understands why I am doing it. His future is more important to me than how he thinks or feels about me. I know there will come a time when he appreciates why I did such a thing.
I have heard stories about kids who, like my brother, had a promising future ahead of them but threw it all away when they gave into peer pressure and the problems that came with it.
I have seen this happen to one of my blood cousins and I can’t afford to have that happen to my own blood brother.
If it can happen to my cousin-brother, what is the guarantee that it won’t happen to my small brother or my son?
Several times my family, especially my wife, has expressed her disgust and dismay at the frequent public use of the ‘K’ word by kids. As a result, she has advised me to sell our house and look for another place to raise our son.
Like me she fears that the more our son is exposed to this environment, the more likely it is he will develop similar attitudes that will become a problem for us.
Deep down I anguish over this situation and wish that these kids’ parents could take tough measures to help their kids to grow up to become law-abiding, productive and peace loving citizens of this country.
Being constantly bombarded with swear words, I wonder about the future of PNG. From this perspective it is clear that our future is bleak. Swearing, binge drinking by underage kids, widespread circulation of pornography, teenage sex and other social and moral ills are turning our youth into a dysfunctional and confused generation.
In the past it was uncommon to hear kids swearing using strong language like the infamous ‘K’ words. In many PNG societies such swear words are forbidden in everyday conversation. This was further strengthened by the adoption of Christianity as the state religion.
When I was growing up, my parents forbid me from swearing. Failure to abide would result in several lashes. Such character education had a positive impact later in life. Many of my friends and relatives are amazed that I rarely swear.
A year ago I heard Madang Governor James Yali on the radio. He raised a complaint during question time in parliament about verbal abuse hurled at him and his wife by certain youths in Madang as he drove past them.
He was particularly disgusted at youths using the ‘K’ word while hurling stones at his vehicle and he enquired into the possibility of introducing legislation to outlaw the use of the word.
His outburst was seen by many people as hypocritical, maybe because they thought it was a trivial matter. Some went to the extreme by commenting that the governor deserved to be at the receiving end given he had not done much in terms of service delivery in Madang Province.
Regardless, as we take a deeper look into today’s society we realise that family is the fabric of our society and it is increasingly under attack from immoral and unethical conduct and behaviour.
The frequent use of coarse language like ‘Kaikai K’ is a symptom of a morally declining society.
Such realities make me wonder if the plea by the governor to legislate the use of coarse language is a measure that we as a responsible society need to impose to create a brighter future for our children.
The ‘K’ word is now pervasive in PNG. As Tok Pisin becomes the most commonly spoken language in the country, there is a serious need for a nationwide campaign to push for legislation so that crude language can be outlawed from our everyday vocabulary.
Otherwise what is a private organ of the body critical to human existence becomes something of lesser value.
There are certain things in life that are meant to be sacred and the sexual organ of human beings is the most sacred of them all.
Demeaning its value through describing something bad is definitely a serious problem and requires the harshest punishment possible.