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The real people of Papua New Guinea

PHIL FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - There are many good people in Papua New Guinea. We often hear their stories on PNG Attitude. They are a welcome respite from all the doom and gloom that otherwise reaches our ears.

Papua New Guinea is a Melanesian society that is founded on the concept of community, as opposed to the concept of the individual, and one shouldn’t be surprised by these stories.

These good people exist in most communities. They are working quietly and without any expectation of reward in all sorts of ways and in a huge variety of different fields.

Teachers work in remote communities without resources and sometimes even without a salary. Aid Post orderlies and health clinic workers toil under similar conditions in many areas.

Sometimes we forget about all these good people and concentrate too much on what we hear is wrong with Papua New Guinea.

This is especially easy to do this if you actually live in a big city like Port Moresby because those bad aspects are all too visible.

What we have to understand is that Port Moresby is an aberration that doesn’t really reflect what Papua New Guinea is really like.

Just like the dry climate of Port Moresby is different to the rest of Papua New Guinea so too is the way it operates.

Port Moresby is essentially a western city perched on the edge of a Melanesian country. It is just unfortunate that what happens in Port Moresby is taken by many observers to be representative of the rest of the country. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

As a western enclave Port Moresby tends to attract people disposed to that way of life.

While there are good people in the city its bright lights also shine like a beacon to every conman, huckster and carpetbagger in the country.

Those bright lights are also seen by undesirables in the immediate regional neighbourhood.

Port Moresby seems to have the dubious ability to corrupt many of the people who come to live or do business there.

The classic examples are the many politicians who regularly wash through the place every five years or so.

Fine, upstanding individuals with the best of intentions quickly succumb to all the gala and glitter and turn into greedy, overweight and grasping individuals who forget why they are there.

This process operates as a kind of plague or virus. When the politician or businessman or ordinary citizen eventually goes back to their home province and village they take this disease back with them and begin to infect anyone who comes near them.

This is why the importance of the good people can’t be over emphasised. They are the only thing standing between the ordinary citizen and this insidious disease. They are the antidote upon which the future depends.

They may be unassuming people who dress in scruffy clothes and walk everywhere instead of drive but they are the key to Papua New Guinea’s future and they need to be heard.

Some of them do big things but most of them just do what is right and proper.

They are not people who run vast financial empires selectively dispensing largesse at their whim but are more likely to be someone who gives a homeless kid a square meal and a place to sleep for the night.

They are the sort of people who will spend their last kina on someone else they think is more deserving.

They are the real people of Papua New Guinea.

Comments

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Garry Roche

Phil, well said.

Kenny Pawa Ambiasi

Thank you Phil for sharing this. Now my heart is at peace knowing that at least a person from outside PNG can tell the realities of the people of Papua New Guinea. Once again thank you Phil.

Francis Nii

Very true, Phil. That's exactly why I often state in Facebook that I don't think that Port Moresby is PNG.

If you haven't been to places like Nauna, Telefomin, Mt Bosavi, Karimui, Menyamia, Marawaka and met the locals, ate with them, slept in their huts, experienced their success and struggles etc, you have not seen PNG.

PNG is huge, full of diversity and amazement, more friendly than Port Moresby.

The true story of PNG is out there and it is not metropolitan Port Moresby and you have captured that well.

Simon Davidson

An excellent piece, Phil. I agree with the sentiments expressed in the article about the silent majority - honest, hardworking and ethical people who live in the nation outside the glitter of the city.

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