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28 February 2018


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In a way we are fighting the nature of our society.

We're not a nation of readers and won't be for a long time yet.

But that's not to say that we shouldn't make a stand or put up a fight.

Keep on writing, keep on publishing, keep on talking about reading and encouraging it.

The government don't have to see the value because their people don't.

Not yet anyway.

Working with the school kids is the best way.

Better still, demonstrate the benefits of being an active reader and writer.

There's no economics in selling our PNG books except at the high end market like the little book shop at Jackson's International.

Give away some of your books for free because you're not going to make any money selling them.

(Once you get used to the idea it's not so bad.)

Give away some of your books for free because the low income earners can't afford them and the middle income earners have less to spend on 'high brow' stuff and may find books the poorer opportunity cost.

Get book circulation going.

Build a readership audience.

Grow interest in our literature.

If people read your stuff, good for them. If they don't, it's not on you.

Literature, even the contemporary stuff, is based on cultural phenomenon not commercial enterprise.

Even books from the best selling authors end up going almost for free in the second hand shops.

That's where I find lots of good reading material.

Maybe that's where we should start.

Basic formal education has been made free and mandatory in Papua New Guinea. But it must be pointed out that, “you can force a horse to the riverside, but you can’t force it to drink”.

In order to reap the optimum benefits from a most efficient formal education system, it is a combination of various factors such as good financial standing from parents, reading, writing and research by students, and a massive investment in infrastructure, teachers and teaching materials by the government. So with the swiftness with which we have enacted policies to make basic education mandatory, measures to inculcate reading culture among students and all the other components should be the same.

Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything. There are books readily available on amazon, not to mention our local libraries, books shops, street vendors and even some secondhand clothing shops but few read consistently, if any at all.

Writing is equally important. In spite of this, books written by our local writers don’t sell like hot cakes. To me, literacy is not a problem. With more than 25,000 grade twelve school leavers every year, that’s a lot of potential readers and buyers. My books go as low as ten kina on Amazon.

Ironically, Papua New Guineans can blow over fifty kina every day on cigarettes, buai and flex cards but can’t afford a book that costs ten kina!

A timely article, Daniel.

The MWTE team has spent the early weeks of 2018 networking and pitching proposals to expand on the very points you've raised here.

I mentioned several strategies in a recent article but have also pursued others including a proposal to the Prime Minister's Office to endorse and align the MWTE Project with the national StARs policy.

As readers may be aware, and we have stated many times, the MWTE project (to date) is a wholly volunteer initiative in response to PNG's efforts to addressing the Sustainable Development Goals.

The anthology aligned itself with the UN's International Women's Day 2017 theme 'Be Bold for Change'; PNG Women writers used literature as a mechanism for advocating for social change.

In addition, it ventured to change the global lens through which the women of PNG is viewed through mainstream media. The proposal to the Prime Minister's Office was sent in early January, and remains unanswered.

In saying that, another disappointment has been the absence of response to supporting another Writer's Fellowship similar to that awarded to Martyn, Francis and Daniel in 2016.

In this case - a proposal that would see me undertake literary activities that would further the work of MWTE, in PNG and Australia.

It raises again the question of those willing to participate in providing equal access to opportunity for PNG men in comparison to PNG women.

Although, to be fair, the Fellowship proposal has been sent to only one private organisation and so, more effort is required by the team in pushing this agenda through.

If you know of anyone within your networks who may be willing to assist with this, please email me: (, Keith or Phil to view the Proposal document.

Ultimately (as indicated in my previous article) a goal for MWTE is to stage a PNG Writer's Festival in 2018 for writers, editors and publishers.

Surely, this would be a way to generate interest from the national government, potential investors etc and gain momentum for PNG Writers and national literature.

Again, if you have contacts within your network that would be willing to provide financial support, please let me know.

Finally, in continuing the work of addressing PNG's efforts with the SDGs, I was pleased to distribute copies of MWTE at the recent Pacific Health Governance Workshop: Knowledge Translation for SDG implementation, hosted at the University of Queensland.

Among the recipients were Dr Colin Tukuitonga and Jo Chandler whom I had the pleasure of meeting.

Many thanks to Phil for organising that consignment of books, and thank you to all who have purchased copies from Amazon.

As you may know, in line with Pukpuk Publications vision royalties from books sales go towards the purchase and distribution of MWTE.

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