WHEN it comes to nurturing the body and soul of a nation most politicians opt to concentrate on the former rather than the latter.
That is, economic matters are seen to be much more important than the culture, literature, art and music of their people. These are viewed as ‘luxuries’ that are only affordable in times of plenty. It is a sadly misconstrued view.
It is only when these soul things look like making a profit that they become interested.
Thus Australia’s identity is linked to football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars and Papua New Guinea’s identity is linked to tourism attractions like wigmen, Birds of Paradise and the Kokoda Trail. All of these things are marketable commodities. It is a fairly blinkered view.
The preoccupation of both the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments with economics is somewhat ironic in this globalised age when forces beyond their shores largely determine its prospects and future.
The belief that only economics matters is also a mule-headed view; a kind of head-in-the-sand stubbornness that refuses to recognise the value of things that don’t carry a price tag.
The culture, literature, art and music of a nation is what inspires it, not its balance of payments. If a nation is not inspired it stagnates and falters.
Contrary to what narrow minded politicians think this translates to pretty much everything, including economic well-being.
The republican debate in Australia has recently been revived. When asked about it conservative politicians invariably say there are much more important things to consider first, like budgets and unemployment.
They cannot make the connection between the aspirations of the people and the country’s prosperity. They can’t see that a people fired up about their identity will be inspired to work harder to do well.
If you want to know what this feels like think back to when Papua New Guinea became independent and the pride and optimism that it inspired. The country rode that wave for almost a decade.
Unfortunately Papua New Guinea has done what most other nations of the world have done and fallen into the economic rut that dictates that anything of value has to have a kina price. It is a new age of philistinism.
The soul of Papua New Guinea is unwell. It is not something the churches with their tired old doctrines and superstitions can remedy; money and greed invaded their minds long ago.
It is something that is only repairable by the writers, artists and musicians of the nation.
This is why things like an Australian republic and a national literature competition like the Crocodile prize are so important.
What’s the point of living in economic luxury when you don’t even know who you are?
It is a priceless thing that no politician, no matter how much he embezzles or steals, will ever be able to afford.
Crocodile Prize 2016
Competition Launch - Wednesday 27 January, 3 – 4pm
National Library, American Corner, Port Moresby
- Opening and Welcome – Facilitated by COG 2016 Chairman, Mr.Baka Bina
- Overview of the history of the Crocodile Prize Organisation and the National Writing Competition - Crocodile Prize Awards – Address by Chairman
- Personal Reflections by Crocodile Prize Awards Entrant: How the national writing competition impacted on my writing and literary skills
- Crocodile Prize Awards 2016 – Address by Chairman
- Crocodile Prize Awards 2016 Judging Panel – Address by Chairman
- Sponsors Overview - Address by Ruth Moiam
- Sponsors Reflection on Involvement in the Crocodile Prize Awards
- Handing over of two copies of Man of Calibre and Sibona to the National Library Book Depository – Facilitated by Baka Bina and Emmaunel Peni
- Program Close – Address by Chairman