Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reflections on People Power


I have written this in response to critics of mine who believe a lot of what I have written previously are lofty political statements that have no tangible benefit. This essay is not a protest manual. Like Clausewitz’s On War it is an exploration of the phenomenon of protest in its tangible, physical, and psychological manifestations.

The conditions that prevail in this country are perfect for some form of kinetic force necessary to effect change. The State is weak and there exists a power vacuum thus the State has become a puppet of commercial interests. The recent land grab under pretext of Special Agriculture Leases, the amendments to Environmental legislation and the disquiet over mineral ownership has generated anger amongst the rural masses. People feel dispossessed, exploited and very frustrated and like dry wood; only need a spark to start the fire.

The penetration of mobile phones throughout the country has been used by Papua New Guinean Activists such as Noel Anjo to get their message across and mobilization of the masses. The lowering of mobile internet rates has seen the increase in the number of people accessing social networking sites.

In recent times, people all over the world have had laptop revolutions powered by social networking sites. Those that have succeeded have done so based on the tactic of taking control of a public area and transforming it into the symbol of power. The Filipinos did this in 1986 with their People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos Regime. In the last decade, the Revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia took place in public squares and this was copied at Tahir Square in Cairo.

This tactic however is not fool proof as events at Tiananmen Square, Tehran and more recently in Syria testify.

However, its application to Papua New Guinea is absolutely relevant. Noel Anjo’s absolute failure lies in the fact that he has not kept sustained pressure for issues, in a very public way. He has not kept a prolonged protest with supporters in the public space or building. He’s tactics were just electric surges and not an absolute power blackout.

The power of a sustained and visible public demonstration such as the recent Tahir Square demonstration lies in the perception it creates. It is psychological warfare in its finest. The fear it generates shuts down schools, offices, and more importantly businesses. There is a blow to investor confidence, markets are volatile and there is capital flight out of the country. Banks are closed and trade grinds to a halt.

As businesses make massive losses each day they start mounting pressure on the puppets they bankrolled into power. The money that finances corruption starts to run dry and it becomes only a matter of time before the strings are cut and the puppets fall from grace.

There is no need to march the streets and burn down shops because all this does is destroy the sources of employment and tax revenue that a new regime would need. Rather, a public gathering in a park, church, school, hospital, etc... accompanied by food, entertainment, church services and debates, etc... is more relevant.

The key here is to involve as many citizens in an act of revolt such that it paralyzes the State. Peaceful inclusive demonstrations that paralyze government and business activities can be very effective.

The use of technology to communicate domestically and internationally will increase awareness of the demands of those seeking change and focus the world’s attention on their cause.

The fact that World Powers have heavily invested billions in the resources sector of Papua New Guinea will raise alarms in Washington, Beijing, Canberra and Tokyo. The Chinese have spent Billions on the Ramu Nickel-Cobalt project while American, Australian and Japanese governments have pumped billions into the PNGLNG Project.

With the eyes of the world focused on this resource rich nation, it would be a spectacle to watch as a weak, unpopular Government is pitted against its people.

The party that prevails is the one that is cohesive, well lead and has clearly defined objectives. I would define some objectives of a hypothetical protest as follows;

  1. Creation of a Transitional Government of National Unity lead by currently elected members of Parliament from both sides of the House; whom the Public perceive to be less corrupt. The transitional government will lead the nation into the next elections.
  2. Parliament to repeal recent changes made to the Environment Act
  3. Setting Up of a Commission of Inquiry into the Special Agricultural Leases
  4. The enactment of Constitutional Amendments and relevant enabling legislation for the establishment of Hela and Jiwaka Provinces as well as the creation of Reserved Seats for Women
  5. Review of Natural Resource Legislation and the development of a fairer mechanism of distributing wealth obtained from exploitation of those resources
  6. The creation of an Independent Commission Against Corruption
  7. Any other issue that the people consider to be of concern

Such demands for change are aimed at creating a new reality. They’re about establishing a new democratic and accountable Papua New Guinean reality. The Three Arms of Government and the Fourth Estate have failed the people. It is now time for the people to create a new world - a new Papua New Guinean State.

These historic times present a golden opportunity to seize the moment and shape the future directions of the nation. As revenue flows in from the LNG Project, the State will be flushed with cash and like the Saudi Royals be able to dominate and manipulate a weak populace. The State will also be less likely then to respond to calls for change by any internal or external actors.

There are already movements of change in Papua New Guinea. They are activists in government, churches, businesses, Non-governmental organizations, etc... They have networks throughout the country and can be effectively galvanized to bring about the changes they genuinely desire.

As a writer, I am submitting these set of ideas to assist them to effect changes which they rightfully desire. As citizens we have a responsibility to protect the National Interest which has in recent times being tossed aside by puppets whose sole aim is to perpetuate their grip on power.




Monday, May 30, 2011


John Fowke was kind enough to send me he's thoughts on the Melanesian Way after he had seen my recent article on PNG Attitude. I have decided to publish it so as to give a different and balanced view on the so called Melanesian Way



Kill the 'sacred cow' — the 'Melanesian Way'

- John Fowke

I can tell you the reason for the story of declining services and declining prosperity, the declining well-being of the people of PNG. It's very simple. As coined by a group of Papua New Guinean intellectuals in the eighties, the problem is "The Melanesian Way".

There. It's been said. The big, silent, grey elephant which has loomed in the background, nameless but recognised by many, is out in the open. Tackle this elephant, or at least recognise it, everyone. Recognise it for the handicap that it has become in the struggle for
modernity and fair distribution of the nation's wealth.

The three decades of increasing puzzlement, of critical editorials, and of irate declarations by such as Hon. Malcolm Kela-Smith, MP ... have been three wasted decades, unless the whole experience is realistically summed up, now, and an appropriate antidote to the problems
applied to the developing wounds on the body of this young nation. The Melanesian Way is the way of a fractured multi-tribal society. A society which existed triumphantly, successfully, and entirely independently for tens of thousands of years. Within this society, land, and the possession of natural resources sufficient for the tribe's or clan's subsistence needs, land was the single, prime, and most-often considered fact of life. The clan's land must be protected and perhaps opportunely extended in any way possible. Without land and hunting and fishing resources sufficient to its needs, the clan or tribe was literally nothing. Such a condition was the result of bad planning by leaders, inept political moves, and ultimately, physical weakness in battle. The result would be annihilation as a clan or tribe. The anger of the ancestral spirits would haunt the remaining, fugitive remnants of the people, no matter that they might be absorbed into other clans sympathetic to them. It was the absolute end, and such an end was never to be contemplated.

This was also the basis of the way of the ancient Britons and the way of the wild tribes of northern Germany, people whom even the might of Caesar's army was never able to completely subdue or completely dispossess. All of us, at some time in the history of humanity, have lived under "The Way". In PNG, historically, the law which governed life applied 100 per cent to one's own group, and only in terms of one's own advantage to one's neighbours. Right from when one lay at one's mother's breast one learned that within the clan all were brothers and sisters. Outside the clan, all were enemies. Within the clan was solidarity and trust. Outside the
clan was the enemy, albeit of various grades. Thus evolved a set of ethics and moral appreciations which, within an overarching customary system, provided a practical set of safeguards and an acceptable level of justice. A dispute-resolution system evolved, which, while often draconian, even violent, worked within the nature of the culture. Here, where a lie was told or a pig stolen from an enemy, these were not crimes, nor even misdemeanours so far as one's clan-brothers were concerned. Only within the clan were such acts classed as crime.
Disputes arising in the clan could be fatally disruptive, and a long-winded methodology involving mediation, negotiation and the payment of some form of compensation-in-kind evolved. Even though this was sometimes inconclusive, and inevitably a long-drawn-out process, it was
preferable to outright fighting within the clan, weakening it in the eyes of jealous neighbours and providing reason for attack.

Here, in the foregoing two paragraphs, is a concise outline of The Melanesian Way. While it served the people well, providing a functional and appropriate system of social security for as long as they remained out of communication with the developing industrialized, class-based, nationalistic polities of the rest of the world, 'The Way" is demonstrably not compatible with the course of modernization in which PNG is engaged.

The tribal ethical matrix, where honesty is confined to a limited number of relationships and by nature encourages nepotism, combined with the propensity to talk and procrastinate endlessly rather than to face difficult ethical, management, and disciplinary problems constitute the big, grey elephant that no-one wants to talk about. Perhaps the Melanesian Way has become a sacred cow.

Kill the sacred cow. Look at life and the future straight in the eye, and begin to keep pace with the rest of the world, PNG. Directness, honesty, firm discipline and responsibility in government are the marks of an effective, fair society. Social history and ancient customs belong in the school curriculum, in museums and story-books, to be honoured for their positive part in the past. Not in the management methodology of a modern nation.


The Way will remain as it is needed, in the locations where the peoples' representatives have not been able to provide a modern counterpart, for as long as present conditions of deprivation by corruption, nepotism, laziness and outright theft from the state remain as conditions of life. But for the educated, the rising generation of thinkers who must themselves and by their own sole generational efforts, bring the ship "PNG" into line and place within the great, competing convoy of modernizing, industrializing society, it will be a great weakness perpetuated if it is intended to carry on a set of values which are plainly at the root of today's widespread social deprivation.

Thursday, May 26, 2011







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Applying the wisdom of traditional Melanesia to Modern Society

"A long time ago, our people discovered the secret of life — live well, love well, have something good for every person and die a happy death" 

Late Bernard Narakobi in his book Melanesian Way

My world view has in recent times being challenged as in my state of dependence, the social security system of traditional Melanesia aka Wantok System has kept me above water. I have always had the view that Melanesians had a choice between the past and the present and could not live in both continuums. This essay is not so much about me trying to convince you about the wisdom of traditional Melanesia as much as it is about me convincing myself.
Our people have for thousands of years been relatively independent societies. They managed their resources efficiently to cater for their needs. They lived in harmony with their environment if not with their neighbors.
The environment was the source of their physical, spiritual and intellectual nourishment. They fed on the food it provided, the lessons it taught and the mythical spirits it harbored. It defined them and confined them to a locality such that there an enormous diversity of linguistic, cultural and phenotypical features of tribes even with-in the same region.
Everyone was deeply rooted to the land of their forefathers and fought to defend the integrity of the tribe. While individuals had certain property rights such as the ownership of personal artifacts of value the land was owned communally. Thus the fruits of the land were regarded as communally owned and as such everyone in society expected a fair share – not necessarily an equal portion. This balancing act between the interests of the individual against those of the tribe is what I refer to as the Melanesian Equilibrium.
The Melanesian Equilibrium was the genius of our forefathers who juggled with the Economic Problem –human wants are infinite while the means of satisfying those wants are scarce. Many beliefs, laws, values, practices, and systems of social, economic and political organization were aimed at achieving that balance. Hunting, gardening, fishing, marriage, birth and death all had cultural norms aimed at satisfying everyone and maintaining social order.
This is indeed currently the case in many traditional Melanesian Communities despite contact with the outside world. Melanesians in remote isolated communities depend on their traditions as a means of survival. The modern State has little or no influence in how they live their lives.
It is this perceived 'normality' in many rural communities that sometimes causes western educated Melanesians to dispute references to poverty in Melanesia. This is what Sir Michael Somare was referring to when he told the Australian Press Club the no one in Papua New Guinea was going hungry. Is it poverty, if a rural Telefomin man only wears astanget and does not own a laplap? Is it poverty that a child in Balimo eats sago for breakfast lunch and dinner?
How do you define poverty and wealth in this present time when Melanesians live in two realities of the present? We live in the reality of our ancestral land and the modern State that exists on that land. Our cultural practices are as relevant to us as modern medicine, science and political organization.
The failures of our modern States are not a reflection of the failure of our Melanesian traditions. In fact, the modern State has been arrogant and ignorant of the wisdom of traditional Melanesia. Unlike our feudal Polynesian and Asian neighbors, we have traditionally recognized leadership based on merit. It is what has always been the strength of traditional Melanesian Societies. Warrior leaders defended our tribal lands and wise elders decided on gardening, trading missions, marriages, etc...
In the modern State anyone can buy leadership, buy resources, buy decisions and buy their way anywhere. Instead of protecting national interest, the State is a tool for pursuing personal ambitions. The modern State steals from its people under legal pretexts of Constitutions and Acts of Parliaments. Instead of sharing the fruits of the land with the people, individual purses are enriched.
Traditional Melanesian Governance worked because the people and their leadership were always accountable to one and other. More importantly, the people had direct contact with the leadership and could shape decisions in the interest of the majority. That is not the case with the political arrangements of the Modern State.
Modern Leaders live in foreign countries or the National Capital and are rarely with their people. There is a disconnect between both parties thus the people are never heard or the leadership simply ignores their cries. The electoral cycle allows Leaders to be totally unaccountable for five years or so. Democracy lasts only as long as the polling is being done.
The Melanesian Equilibrium has been tried and tested for millennia and the fact that Melanesians continue to survive with-in that reality, is testament to its robustness. It is about Leaders chosen on merit and being held accountable. It is about wise planning and decision making based on respect for the people's wishes and environmental sustainability. It is about warriors defending the National Interest and Sovereignty. It is about a population being educated to be of use to society. Above all it is about the fear of God and respect for the rule of Law.
Many Melanesians have sadly forgotten what defines them and how they came to being. Caught up in materialism, cargo cult, and the lures power they will do anything to get what they want; even at the expense of their fellow citizens.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Haunting Cassowary

Dedicated to all Divine Word University students currently having their exams – all the best

cHARLES ENDEDANCER Dirom looked at his tired wife Kakaem wrapping freshly washed sago to be baked over hot coals. There wasn’t anything else to cook. They had just arrived from the sago swamp, having spent the whole day shredding the pith of the sago palm and washing it to extract the starch. He stomach groaned for food as he licked his dry lips. His son Maigag sat on his lap.

Maigag was a skinny five year old with a bloated belly to match his large brown eyes. He sat silently and observed his mum prepare the sago while his dad’s tummy grumbled impatiently. The village kids gave him the nickname Scratch Lotto because the grille on his skin made him scratch it like a lottery card.

It had rained that evening and everyone in the village remained indoors near the fireplace. The only visitors Dirom had were from the Red Cross, as the local population of mosquitoes was grudgingly referred to. Thus as Dirom waved his hand and slapped and cussed the Red Cross; Maigag played lottery while mum tried to make a meal out of the sago.

As they all sat hungrily around the fireplace watching the sago bake, their dog Maski walked inside wagging his tail and carrying a wallaby between his teeth. Maigag leaped off his father’s laps and ran eagerly towards the dog. “Good dog,” he said while patting Maski. He tried to relieve Maski off the wallaby but the dog was stubborn. “Don’t do that son!” he’s mum exclaimed. “It might bite you.” “Bad dog!” Maigag screwed his nose and left the dog.

Dirom walked over to the dog and was able to acquire the wallaby. He called Maski out where he butchered the wallaby and gave the dog its share. Dirom was pleased; at least there was something to make the sago more palatable.

He grated a dry coconut and his wife boiled the wallaby pieces in coconut milk. The meat was served on the family had dinner.

That night as Dirom lay his aching body against the uneven palm flooring; he planned on going hunting the next day. Soon he was fast asleep. As he slept he dreamt that he had gone deep into the forests where his ancestors had lived before the white man came.

The coconut palms grew very tall above old mango and laulau trees. The grass was tall and the haunting sound of forest insects invaded the air. Purple tanget grew in the ancient burial grounds and their leaves waved at him as they swayed in the wind. The laulaus were in season and their red fruit were scattered all over the area. Dirom could see wild animal tracks cutting through the tall grass and thorn bushes. Cassowary droppings were located near and around the laulau trees.

He chose a tree that he could hide in and waited for a cassowary to approach. As he sat and waited fully armed with his bow and arrows, he saw a large cassowary approach. It was attired in all its glory. It proudly flaunted its dark charcoal plumage, long blue neck and blood red wattle. It marched proudly into the arena and sent the rats and bandicoots running for cover.

Dirom took a deep breath as the sight of the grand old bird sent a shiver down his spine. He had steadied himself against two firm branches and placed an arrow on the bow. He waited took aim and waited for the bird to appear with-in striking distance.

His arms and legs ached as he fought to keep steady while focusing on his target. The bird was busy feeding on the laulau and was progressing very slowly towards him. The excitement combined with the humidity made him sweat profusely. The tension in his muscles increased as the time passed slowly.

Dirom’s mouth watered as he thought of the prospect of eating cassowary meat and sago pie. His wife would wrap the fresh meat and sago and cook it in the mumu with some yams and grated cassava. The dark feathers would be used to make a wonderful headdress for Maigag.

Then from the corner of his field of view, he noticed a green tree snake making its way down the branches towards him. He changed his aim and pointed his arrow towards the snake. The snake took no notice of him and continued towards him. He pulled the bow-string and as he let go he lost his balance and went crashing down to the ground.

As he landed on the ground the snake dropped straight onto his chest. He screamed ferociously and threw the snake off his chest. The snake sailed through the air and landed on the cassowary’s back. The bird was startled and ran towards Dirom.

Dirom could see the bird steaming towards him with it large pointed claws ripping tuffs of grass at it advanced. Dirom tried to run but he couldn’t; he seemed to be under a spell cast by the cassowary. The cassowary stopped near the humbled hunter and the snake slid off its back and onto Dirom. As it began to wrap itself around him, Dirom yelled and woke up.

Kakaem was spooning him. “Ayo! muruk meri!” he sighed and slipped back into his beauty sleep.




Laulau – a red tropical fruit

Tanget – a shrub

Ayo, muruk meri – Ayo! Cassowary woman!

Muruk meri [cassowary woman] – a mythical bush woman who seduces men and kills them

Friday, May 20, 2011



Where do I start...ok, let me begin by stating that I have received two Reference Letters, a pair from Emeritus Professor Lance Hill of the University of Papua New Guinea and the other from Professor Keith Jackson of the University of Queensland. I am waiting for a third referee. I have already purchased the application form for UPNG and should be able to hand them in by next week.

I am in many ways very fortunate, as I have had the opportunity to inform and inspire many. The emails that generated a conversation have led to opening of doors for me.

This blog is a window into my soul. I have let you into my thoughts and poured myself here. In essence it is how I have chosen to vent my frustrations. Many of my peers choose violence and intimidation to do so.

Rape, which is very common, is about having control and power over someone when one is in fact in a very weak position in society.

Someone mentioned to me recently that ‘society owes me nothing.’ I agree. The English politician and philosopher, Edmund Burke, states however that governments are a creation of human beings as a tool for achieving/satisfying our goals and aspirations. The problem though with this is that human wants are infinite while the means of satisfying those wants are scarce – this is referred to as the Economic Problem.

Thus it seems perfectly reasonable to assume that my aspirations may not be achievable. But does that have to translate into an excuse for governments not to meet the basic functions of the State in society. I think not? While I do agree that my personal dreams can be just that- a dream, I believe the dreams of a nation must be realized. It is when leaders are in concert with the people that these dreams become reality. It has been this disconnection between the leaders and the people that has meant that since independence, the National Goals and Directive Principles have just been colourful words on paper.

I consider dropping out of Medical School as a blessing. I’m not being romantic about my life as it is but I have learnt so much about my people and my country. I do not have sympathy but empathy for my people. I see myself in the kid on the street, the street vendor, and the lady selling vegetables, the beggar, the homeless and the sick. I have walked the dirt road from Oriomo to Malam in the Western Province, and suffered the pain of the distance. I have sat in the emergency ward at Port Moresby General Hospital and waited for 5 hours to have my forearm stitched. I have sat 'til dawn with the homeless at 3mile. I sell betelnuts like thousands other Papua New Guineans throughout the country. None of these experiences are taught at any university – I attend the University Of Pipigari Street.

I speak the language of the common man, the rebellious teenager and the intellectual. I could never do all three a couple of years back.

I have made a deliberate choice to write in the language that you the intellectual can understand. The reasoning is simple- too much power in this country is concentrated in the hands of a few. Some of you are in positions of power, others may soon be. You need to understand the people you rule over. History is full of tragic stories of the high and mighty that have been brought down by their own people.

The people are ignorant, poorly educated and thus easily misled. You have a duty of care towards them, to safeguard their interests which are indeed the National Interest anyway. After all, what is a nation without its people?

I therefore do not see me being on the streets as an accident but part of Gods plan for my life. This has been an enriching experience. And wherever He leads me to I will go. He has used my talents to bring to the forefront a better understanding of His people here in PNG. I have through my suffering of body mind and spirit being made to understand the people He created, who live in one of the wonders of creation- Papua New Guinea. I pray that He raises someone up to lead His people to the Promised Land after wondering in the desert for almost 40 years since the birth of the Nation.

As for me, I hope He delivers me from this belly of the whale that I’m in. I hope to enter Uni next year. It will be hard having to start all over again but hey, such is life. Ideally for me, it would be nice to do one year of Flight Training than 4 years of hard labour. Besides, who am I to question Gods infinite wisdom?


Uniform Shirt


Once a uniform shirt

Was left on bus nine

Don’t know what its worth

But it looks so fine

Twas left by a fool

From Don Bosco Tech School


It looked at me with pity

And begged me for mercy

“I wanna see daddy”

It said to me sadly

So I swore to take it home

And not to let it roam


“Thank you very much

I am really touched”

The shirt said to me

I felt a sense of duty

To be my brother’s keeper

And return it to its owner

NOTE: Based on real events- well not the part where the shirt talks. Today (20/05/2011) I travelled on bus nine from UPNG to Boroko and there was this Don Bosco Technical School shirt that no one seemed to know what to do with. I decided that I would take home and pass it to some Don Bosco students who will hopefully return it to its rightful owner. School uniform shirts are expensive so I hope the poor guy learns his lesson.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

14 stitches


Hand Got caught in the razor wire at home. Read all about it in my earlier blog post “One night in Mosbi”. Removed all stitches at home before yesterday. Healing real good







That is the question that Parliament has allowed to slip in recent days by granting the PM leave of absence.

Section 142 of the Constitution of Papua New Guinea concerns matters relating to the suspension and/or dismissal of the Prime Minister amongst other things. It states in Section 142, subsection 5(c);

“(5) The Prime Minister–


(c) may be removed from office by the Head of State, acting in accordance with a decision of the Parliament, if the Speaker advises the Parliament that two medical practitioners appointed by the National Authority responsible for the registration or licensing of medical practitioners have jointly reported in accordance with an Act of the Parliament that, in their professional opinions, the Prime Minister is unfit, by reason of physical or mental incapacity, to carry out the duties of his office.”

The Constitution states further that pending an investigation carried out under Section 142 subsection 5(c) the Prime Minister is to be suspended from Office. Section 142, subsection 6(b) states;

“(6) The Prime Minister may be suspended from office–


(b) in accordance with an Act of the Parliament, pending an investigation for the purposes of Subsection (5)(c), and any resultant action by the Parliament.”

The enabling legislation is the Prime Minister and National Executive Council Act 2002. Section 6 of the Prime Minister and National Executive Council Act 2002 states


(1) The Head of State, acting on advice, may, on a matter relating to the health of the Prime Minister, request the National Authority responsible for the registration and licensing of medical practitioners to appoint two medical practitioners to examine the Prime Minister and to provide him with full details of the examination, together with their joint certification that the Prime Minister –

(a) is unfit or unable, by reason of physical or mental incapacity, to carry out the duties of his office, and as to how long they consider that the unfitness or inability will continue to exist; or
(b) is not suffering from any physical or mental incapacity; or
(c) although suffering from physical or mental incapacity, is still able to carry out the duties of his office; or
(d) refuses to be examined.

(2) The Head of State, acting on advice, may, where he has called for a report under Subsection (1), suspend the Prime Minister from office.

(3) The medical practitioners referred to in Subsection (1) shall report to the Head of State as soon as practicable, but in any event no later than 28 days, after the date of their appointment.

(4) If the Prime Minister refuses to be examined by the medical practitioners referred to in Subsection (1) his is guilty of misconduct in office within the meaning of Division III.2 (Leadership Code) of the Constitution.

(5) Where the medical practitioners referred to in Subsection (1) certify that the Prime Minister –

(a) is not suffering from any physical or mental incapacity; or
(b) although suffering from mental or physical incapacity is still able to carry out his duties,

the Head of State, acting on advice, shall immediately remove any suspension.

(6) Where the medical practitioners referred to in Subsection (1) certify that –

(a) the Prime Minister is unfit or unable, by reason of physical or mental incapacity, to carry out the duties of his office; and
(b) the unfitness or inability will, in their opinion, continue to exist for a period of more than three months from the date on which he was examined by them,

the Head of State shall forward the report of the medical practitioners, together with their certification, to the Speaker for presentation to the Parliament, and the Prime Minister is suspended from office until the Parliament has dealt with the matter.

(7) Where the medical practitioners referred to in Subsection (1) certify that –

(a) the Prime Minister is unfit or unable, by reason of physical or mental incapacity, to carry out the duties of his office; and
(b) the unfitness or inability will, in their opinion, last for not more than three months from the date on which he was examined by them,

the Head of State, acting on advice, shall direct the medical practitioners to conduct another examination of the Prime Minister at the end of the period for which the unfitness or inability is expected to last, and the Prime Minister is suspended from office until he is certified to be fit to carry out his duties.

(8) Where, on any second or subsequent examination, the medical practitioners referred to in Subsection (1) certify that the unfitness or inability of the Prime Minister will, in their opinion, continue to exist for a period of more than three months measured from the date on which he was first examined by them, the Head of State, acting on advice, shall forward the report of the medical practitioners together with their certification to the Speaker for presentation to the Parliament and the Prime Minister is suspended from office until the Parliament has dealt with the matter.

(9) Where the Speaker has received a report under Subsection (6) or (8), he shall present it to the Parliament on the first sitting day of the Parliament after he receives it.

(10) If the Parliament is not meeting when the Speaker receives the report and is not due to meet for more than 14 days after that time, a meeting shall be called as soon as practicable.

(11) Where a report is presented to the Parliament under Subsection (6) or (8), the Parliament may advise the Head of State to remove the Prime Minister from office.

I believe the law is clear on the dilemma faced by this nation. Parliament has chosen not to deal with this Constitutional requirement. Has Parliament failed again in its fiduciary duty and is it relevant anymore?

Tumbuna stori


Sukundumi i lusim haustambaran


Bipo bipo tru long taim bilong ol tumbuna long yar 2011 i bin gat wanpela bikapela masalai nem bilong em Sukundumi. Em i save bosim haustambaran bilong ol lain Papua Niugini. Hamas taim ol lain i traim long rausim em, em i save strong na stap.

Olgeta ol samtin bilong ol pipol em I bin bosim na stap na ol lain les stret long em. Em tu em olsem bigman long wei bilong em yet na planti lain ol sapotim em na stap. Olsem na ol man meri giv-up na stap isi. Wan-wan tasol ol bigmaus na kros-pait wantaim ol lain bilong em.

Igo na wanpela dei ol i bin putim Sukundumi long kot. Olgeta lain i hamamas taim ol harim dispela nius. Long dispela kot ol waitman i bin kam long ovasis long skelim ol stori. Sukundumi em i no wari. Em save olsem em ino bin wokim wanpla rong. Em strongim kona bilong em na karim ol save man long halivim em long winim kot. Em I bin winim kot na kot I tokim em olsem em bai no inap wok long tupela wik olsem panismen bilong em. Olgeta lain bilong em i bin hamamas stret na ol paitim bros na pati na stap.

Tasol wanpela samtin I bin kamap long taim bilong kot. Long fespela dei bilong kot Sukundumi i klostu ai-raun insait long kothaus. Olgeta lain I bin poret stret na painim six-holes stap long insait. Masalai ya em i bin gat bikpela hevi tasol bihain ol lain bilong em tok em I liklik samtin.

So taim kot i pisin Masalai em kalap long balus na em i go ovasis long kantri bilong ol kongkong ol i kolim Singapore. Long hap yet em i go admit long bikpela hausik na ol dokta I sekim em. Planti lain long Papua Niugini ol faul long wanem as Sukundumi i go long hausik. Ol lain bilong em I bin tok, "em normal yah wari be lasi." Samtin, ol tok em save kam sekim em yet stap olgeta taim so ol lain tingting tumas.

Ol tok olsem na nogat, wanpela niusman bilong Australia i tok olsem Sukundumi bai igat bikpela operesen long hausik long Singapore. Taim Sukundumi harim dispela em belhat stret na em ringim ol lain long Kundu2 TV na toktok olsem "mi stap stap orait, orait tasol, noken tingting tumas long mi."

Ol lain harim dispel na ol stap isi tasol. Tasol bihain ken, ol lain long hauslotu kisim toksave long pater long prei bikos Masalai bai go long bikpela operesen. Dispela mekim ol lain tingting planti ken na kainkain stori wok long pairap long olgeta hap kona long kantri. Ol lain bilong Sukundumi i kam aut ken na tokim ol lain long stap isi.

Igo na, wanpela dei,mangi bilong bipo Bigman bilong Wabag, Tei Abal, i toksave long haustambaran olsem Masalai I kisim bikpela hevi tumas long lewa bilong em. Mangi yah nem bilong em Sam na Masalai i bin wokim em bos bilong kantri na lusim em long lukautim hausman.

Sam em olsem bigman long wei bilong em yet tasol ol narapela brata bilong em nogat luksave long em. Kain olsem, em i no wanpela boi bilong grup na respect i no stap. Em i no kaksi olsem Don na Patrick, tupela original bik'la mangi b'lo grup. Olsem na taim ol boi blo grup harim olsem papa em kisim bikpela hevi na silip stap long hausik ol plen stap long kisim pawa long han bilong Sam.

Wanpela samtin i wok long kamap klia nau em olsem Sukundumi i no inap kambek long pawa ken. I luk olsem em i kisim bikpela bakarap long lewa bilong em na lewa I no wok gut. Em tu em lupun pinis na kain bakarap save kamap long lewa ol I no isi tumas long ol dokta long stretim.

Mama Lo bilong kantri I tok olsem sapos praiminista i no stap long gutpela helt Haustambaran i mas votim niupela praiminista.

Dispela senis em makim taim bilong niupela generesen bilong Papua Nuigini na pinis bilong wok bilong ol papa bilong indipedens. Na long yar 2012 ol biglain bilong ples bai makim ol niupela lida long go skelim pik gris long haustambaran. Husait ol trupela lida bilong niupela generesen bai kisim ples bilong Sukundumi -papa bilong indipendens.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Melanesian Way


With the current transition of power underway, let us reflect on the wise words of the late Bernard Narakobi taken from his book titled Melanesian Way. He and the fathers of independence understood how to unite and develop a people and nation however for decades they were unable to gather people who shared their vision. The result of this lack of common purpose is visible everywhere.

As Sir Michael Somare, the father of this nation fades from the political scene, Narakobi warns us of the forces that can destroy us and urges us to “be more assertive, not more arrogant, if they are going to inherit the wealth of this nation

Papua New Guineans have lost that national spirit that existed around independence. The Melanesian Way is the spirit that unites every one of us with our past, present and future. It is our inheritance – our birthright. It defines who we are, how we came to being and how we are to present ourselves to the global community of nations. It is the key to our nation’s soul and a people without a soul have a lifeless, meaningless existence and are easily scattered by the winds of globalization.


Our Melanesian ways stem from the unquestionable fact that we are an ancient people, born to liberty, born to ancient culture and civilization.

As Melanesians, we are a spiritual people. Even before Christians came onto our shores, we felt and knew the forces of a source greater than ourselves. That was our divine power, the Melanesian way.

We can and should call on the strength of that source. We have a right to demand interpersonal dialogue with the forces at work to change us.

Some people say that insistence on Melanesian ways is an attempt to have our people return to the gloomy days. I reject this argument.

First because the gloomy days have never been the gloom of our lot alone. Every civilisation, every culture, every race and community has its day of gloom. Indeed, every generation and every person has his bright days and his or her cloudy days. There is no sunshine without rain clouds!

Secondly, Melanesians were in fact moving together long before Western contact. One needs only reflect at the intricate trade links that extend across the island, the seas, the valleys, coastlines and the mountains to agree. If you don't agree, take a look at the Enga man who gets his shell from the Sepik man or the Mendi man who gets it from the Gulf man, and you will agree.

Thirdly, Melanesians are not and have never been slaves to their cultural practices, if they believed these were obstructing them. They liberate themselves by establishing new communities with new hopes and future.

Everywhere in Melanesia, the people are yearning for the good life the Utopia Spontaneous movements have emerged and will continue to emerge. These movements are called prophetic, synchrotistic, political religious, economic or civic, depending on the name caller. Still every one of these movements is searching for the ideal way, in terms of human association.

We Melanesians now stand on the summit of Mt. Wilhem. We can look across the valleys and isles of civilisations. We can see ruins of many civilisations. We can see the deterioration of human spirit in many lands. We can also see the beauty and the strengths of civilisations across the globe. We can see the deposited debris of the tidal wave on our shores.

The task before us is whether we can be free to choose. Can we choose a path that will give us a Melanesian identity, faith and dignity?

It is pure paternalism to believe one is here to teach and educate poor and ignorant Melanesians.

The true motive of our 'helpers' must be questioned. Some certainly end up helping themselves more than they help us.

Experts are like children. They expect Papua New Guineans to play within the perimeters they draw for us. If we do not measure up to their expectations, we are inferior. This is pure racism, subtle and unwitting though it might be.

Papua New Guineans need to be more assertive, not more arrogant, if they are going to inherit the wealth of this nation. They are far too passive and too shy for their own good. My soul weeps when I see Melanesians being pushed about like rootless leaves in the air. Papua New Guineans need to stand up and be counted.

It is no wonder that some of the most racist business houses in PNG are making more profits now than ever before, outsiders are ripping off the riches of this country. While we are being captivated and enchanted by the aura of political power, our feet, and our very souls, are being swept away. Half of Melanesia has been swept away by Asians. If the other half is not careful, it too will be swept away.

Papua New Guineans must unite and speak up to establish their own history. Created equal, we are of equal worth. We should be treated equally. Created in the image of the creator, we are co-makers with the Creator of our own histories. We Melanesians work with God to build our earth. On earth we will inherit. It is work of an ungodly nature to have us echo the sounds of those who made history in Europe or elsewhere, people now long dead and gone from this, our mother earth.

Often I sit in my office at Waigani with books and papers all around me and wonder what it's all about. A long time ago, our people discovered the secret of life — live well, love well, have something good for every person and die a happy death. By blindly following the West we have become estranged and alienated from each other. Personal human relationships are being sacrificed for professional titles. It is tragic that political parties are further dividing our people. It saddens me to see people stand on their offices or titles and refuse to deal with other people except as bosses or employers

There are those who are so ill-informed, simplistic and narrow minded as to believe Melanesians have the choice between the so-called "primitive" past of our ancestors and the "civilised and enlightened" present of Western civilisation. The choice is in fact more complex than this. The secret to that choice lies in the dual pillars of our Constitution. These pillars are our noble traditions and the Christian principles that are ours now, enhanced by selected technology. It is my hope that we would not blindly follow the West, nor be victims to technology and scientific knowledge. These belong to human kind. They are not racial or national. It is the same with music and good writing. These are physically located in time, place and people, but in their use and enjoyment, they belong to all. Thus it is with Melanesian virtues.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

One night in Mosbi



Above: my mug shot

On the evening of Tuesday 10th May, I had an argument with my parents and decided to sneak out at night at around 9pm. I changed into long black jeans, put on a black singlet and wore a black pinstriped long sleeve shirt. I walked to the living room where I put on my boots and a dark blue cap.

I asked my small brother where the gate key was and he said it was with dad. Dad usually takes the key when there’s been trouble at home so that no one leaves.

I wasn’t planning on going anywhere in particular; I just wanted to leave home. I have had enough.

I decided to climb over the fence. The fence is typical of many fences that surround the homes of city residents. Mesh wire wall with barbed wire and coils of razor wire on top. It is meant to keep criminals out and residents safe in their prison.

Anyway, I was able to scale the fence but as I jumped down to the other side, the razor wire caught my right arm and it was butchered. I did not even feel a thing until I felt blood oozing and to my horror I could see tendons.

Hearing the noise at the fence, my dad came over to investigate. I just told him I had slashed my hand and would probably be needing surgery and I left to the emergency ward at Port Moresby General Hospital.

When I arrived, I wasn’t sure where to find the ward due to renovations currently being undertaken at the former site of the emergency room. I walked through the corridors of the hospital and was fortunate to come across a medical student who took me over for treatment.

The student was horrified by the look of the wound. It looked very vicious. She couldn’t believe my story and thought I was drunk. I offered to allow her to smell my breath but she wasn’t keen on it. Instead, I removed the shirt and she placed gauze over the wound and wrapped it up.

I was taken directly to the mini-theatre, where an adult male from Ialibu was being stitched up by the Resident Medical Officer. I knew the Resident from my days at medical school. He reassured me that I would be next to be treated.

As I sat in the theatre, I could feel the effects of the blood loss. I decided to lie down in order to avoid fainting. I was not in any sort of pain.

As I lay down, the relatives of the guy being stitched took a keen interest in me. I told them I was a street vendor and well, they didn’t seem to believe that story. Then I told them about my bog and the patient said he had seen it. One of the ladies decided to come over and wash the blood off my hands even though I protested against it. It was a very nice gesture because she did that without hand gloves. It was rather poignant for me because the first patient I had inserted an intravenous canula into, was HIV positive, and I had also done that without hand gloves.

It was around 10 pm and I was soon joined by Sibona, a young male from Porebada. He had injured himself while playing volleyball. He seemed in great pain and was restless. I decided to chat with him and try to distract his focus from the injury. I asked him if he had taken any pain killers and he said he had take aspirin. I explained to him that aspirin prevents blood from clotting and that probably was the reason he was still bleeding albeit not profusely. He had a small cut relative to my gaping wound but he seemed far more agonized than I was.

The boy from Porebada decided to go out to get fresh air, leaving me alone. As I sat singing to myself, my dad called. I was mad and didn’t want to answer his calls. I sent him a nasty message and told him not to contact me. Anyway, the poor guy had followed me to the hospital but I had no intention of seeing him.

It wasn’t until around 2:30 am that the Emergency registrar came over to fix me up. He was accompanied by a security guard. He told me to remove the gauze. It was glued to the wound by blood clots. He suggested that I remove it under running water. As the water ran over the wound I felt sharp tormenting flashes of pain and moaned loudly.

Surprisingly, when I had completely removed the gauze, the pain disappeared. I smiled and remarked, “Sweat!” That made the registrar smile and I walked over to the operating table to have the wound stitched. He anaesthetized the wound and the surrounding region, cleaned it with iodine and cut out the disfigured flesh to create a clean wound which he began suturing. After suturing he washed the area with iodine, placed pads over the wound and bandaged it.

It was painless and the whole procedure took about 30 minutes. I helped the registrar clean up afterwards and we went to the drug station where I received some medication. I thanked him and left the hospital.

As I walked through the hospital car park I saw dozens of people sleeping in the shadows. Outside, more people slept by the roadside. I am not referring to those who pitch tents opposite of the hospital. The people I’m referring to are the homeless of Port Moresby. They sleep on the pavement because it radiates heat during the night and is thus a warm surface to sleep on. Even though I was aware of these homeless people, I never knew there were so many of them.

I sat at 3 mile bustop watching movies at the canteen with other homeless people, until dawn.

Monday, May 9, 2011



I have felt a great urge to write a patriotic poem like the poem Jerusalem by the English poet William Blake, whom I am most influenced by in almost all my writings. I hope someday in the future this nation be called NEW EDEN, because it’s the most beautiful, breath-taking and blessed land on earth.


In the beginning was the Word

And He flew like Paradise Bird

Through floral forests of New Eden

And gave to us this precious land


Did He breathe the Bismarck Breeze?

Into Adams wide nostrils

Did He carve the Great Sepik?

When He ruled from Wilhelm’s peak


In land of Gold that floats on Oil

He pitched He’s tent into the soil

And gave to Abel sugar cane

Much to Cain’s great disdain


Did wise Solomon sail this sea?

Did Christ’s tears flow the Fly?

Papua New Guinea

Praise the name of God on High

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Keys to Power



By authority of our inherent right as ancient, free and independent peoples

WE, THE PEOPLE, do now establish this sovereign nation and declare ourselves, under the guiding hand of God, to be the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea


My fellow Papua New Guineans

The challenges that we face as are nation are many. They are either self inflicted, externally imposed or naturally occurring. But they should not define us as a nation in the future as they have done for the past 35 years of existence as an Independent Nation.

The psyche of the nation has been dampened down by the constant bombardment of negativity and this has been very detrimental towards the creation of a society that is confident about determining its own destiny.

While recognizing that we have to seriously address problems we face in terms of social justice, crime, health, environmental damage, resource management and lack of governance, we also need to be proud of our achievements as a nation.

With the exception of the Bougainville Crisis, we have remained a relatively peaceful country without the tensions and crisis experienced by many of our neighbors. And despite warnings that we were becoming a failed state we have continued to experience continuous democratic governments. We are a proud people with a rich cultural and linguistic heritage. We are hardworking and ingenious people who have been able to survive for millennia in some of the most inhospitable terrain.

We need to recognize that we have Papua New Guineans capable of improving the state of our nation. Our doctors work under difficult conditions to work miracles in healthcare. Our teachers teach in remote isolated schools and bring the light of education to the people. Our people interpret laws, fly planes mine minerals and build skyscrapers. We have capable and committed people tirelessly and silently serving their country with very high distinction. That is why despite what others think of us, we continue to exist as a nation. And that is something that we should be proud of as a nation.

We have also enjoyed huge windfalls from the recent resource boom. However this great opportunity for meaningful change to society has been squandered in the past decade. The National Alliance led coalition has despite its achievements in growing the economy; failed to translate economic growth in improvements in society.

While the current government has been successful in negotiating a massive gas project and expanding the National Airline amongst other things, many people continue to remain disenfranchised. Many ordinary Papua New Guineans remain spectators as resources are extracted from their land and sent elsewhere. Many find themselves unable to fit into society and resort to crime to express their frustrations towards authorities. Marginalized and lost, many do not respect the institutions of the state, the agents of the state and state leaders.

There is a growing gulf between the haves and the have nots in society, fuelled by greed and lust for power.

The institutions that are supposed to protect the interests of the people have become compromised and/or have been weakened. People no longer trust the government as it is seen to be self-serving.

The National Alliance Party and its Coalition Partners have had almost a decade to make things right for the grass roots. They have failed and they must go.

There are other Papua New Guineans who are capable of doing a better job in governing the country. They are in politics, business, non-governmental organizations, churches and the public service. And when they raise their hands to make a stand for this country- we need to recognize them and support their efforts.

This isn’t about change for change sake; it is about doing the right thing by the future generations of Papua New Guinea. In addition, it is about making up for lost opportunity. We have to be optimistic about the future of our nation and put people into power to deliver on that optimism. It is not good enough to dwell on past failures and be pessimistic about the country.

I see great potential in the younger generation of Papua New Guineans. They are confident, intelligent and articulate young people. We need new leadership to harness their great potential in order to transform our nation. Otherwise, we shall have another set of squandered opportunities.

For it was we the people of Papua New Guinea who determined our destiny as a nation 35 years ago in declaring independence from Australia. Once again, we the people of Papua New Guinea are challenged to make a choice about the destiny of our great nation.

God Bless Papua New Guinea!

The Keys to Power


Next year the country goes to the polls to elect a new 5 year Parliament. There is already political maneuvering as individuals and parties jostle for power. Whoever holds the keys to power shall open the gates of power and glory and posses the kingdom. What are these keys to power?

1. People

The people who run any party or political campaign are crucial in how they are able to support their candidates. They need to have a grasp of the wishes of the electors and convey those wishes to the candidates. This helps the candidate understand and articulate those aspirations to the electorate.

While a candidate may have skillful strategists, they are of little use if the candidate does not have standing within the electorate. A candidate with good standing may gain this not necessarily from his/her own deeds but those of a relative of stature; for example, a former politician or tribal leader. Good candidates are also those with tribal ties within a large populace.

2. Resources

This is perhaps common sense in terms of running an effective campaign. For candidates in the highlands, resources are important to perform the courtship dance of the male Bird of Paradise, where the candidate has to court the voters. However, it is important to note also that at the coast the exchange of betelnut to mark events does have powerful symbolism. There are certain expectations voters have and those candidates who do not meet those expectations can be viewed as being greedy. I suppose this blurs the line between what is culturally acceptable and plain and simple vote buying.

3. Promises

Papua New Guineans are aspirational voters. By that I mean, they have voted in the past for people who made some of the most outrageous promises. Because of the level of poverty and illiteracy many join the bandwagon that promises the quickest and easiest way out. Voters have fallen for empty promises over and over again and do not seem to have learnt any lessons.

Negative campaigning doesn’t really work because most people are not in tune with National Affairs. Many are illiterate and do not understand issues trending in the news. Campaigns need to be positive and promise a better future for all - more cargo aka goods and services. Other issues of substance including party policy differences or governance issues usually take a back seat.

Usually two or three years post elections voters have made up their mind as to whether they keep the incumbent local MP or ditch him for a new one. This is based on the performance of the individual MP.

Elections are like a big party drunken party. It is after the elections that people sober up and realize whom they have gone to bed with.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Innocence and Experience


When I was a babe

Mum taught me how to behave

Dad said, “son don’t to be a slave”

When I was a babe


When I was at school

The girls thought I was cool

The boys said “you’re a fool”

When I was at school


When I left school

The girls said “you’re a fool”

The boys thought I was cool

When I left school


Now I drink a bitter cup

And Mum and Dad are fed up

Na ol tok, “mipela inap!”

Bikos mi salim buai stap



Na ol tok, “mipela inap!” – And they said “we’ve had enough”

Coz bats salim buai stap –Because I am a street vendor



The main street of that runs the entire length Malam Village in the Morehead Local Level Government council area, lined by flowers and astyrometus symocarpa trees–essential oil plants locally known as MOL in the Ende dialect


MALAM: My aunt Julie holding a joey – baby wallaby



MALAM: Me (in brown shirt) planting sago


MALAM: Shredding sago pith to be washed


MALAM: My cousin Matilda standing near a large termite mound in the savannah


MALAM: Bush tucker, Cycad seeds. These have been harvested and buried in the swamp for over a year. They are very toxic and must be cooked well before being eaten. They also smell like pig shit


MALAM: Bush Tucker, Extracting the shoot of a savannah palm


MALAM: My cousins standing outside the food garden containing yams, corn, pumpkin and bananas


MALAM: Cooling off in the creek


MALAM: Ende tribal dancer


MALAM: Tribal Dancing at night

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Revolution Cometh


Digicel PNG, the largest mobile phone service provider may be switching from GPRS to 3G mobile technology. Several sources have confirmed that the mobile company has been upgrading its network infrastructure to roll out the 3G network.

This is great news for internet junkies in Papua New Guinea who have had to cope with the inflated prices and constipated download rates of the State-owned monopoly Telikom PNG. Telikom PNG is currently providing 3G and 4G wireless internet services at a cost of K750 for 500 megabytes.

Current users of Digicel’s GPRS internet modem have noted phenomenal download speeds. @Walkan Toviran tweeted regarding the Digicel internet connection, “I am downloading at a phenomenal rate well its fast real fast...The connection status used to be GPRS or EDGE on my modem status bar is now UMTS or HSPA”

The entry of Digicel into the mobile phone market saw prices drop as it outwitted the monopoly of Bee Mobile a subsidiary of Telikom PNG. The entry of Digicel into broadband wireless internet should also see prices plummet.

Papua New Guineans who have had to put up with Telikom's high rates and poor service will have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of competition.

With the elections just around the corner, affordable and accessible broadband internet also provides the opportunity to connect with the voters via social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. There are already, thousands of Papua New Guineans who use these sites.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011



Trans-Fly is the land that lies between the mighty Fly River and the Torres Strait is inhabited by the Bine, Agob, Didra and Gizra linguistic groups of the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. There; wallaby, Rusa deer, cassowary and wild pigs roam the vast savannah woodland while migratory birds nest in the wetlands.

Located at the heart of this land is the ancestral home of Kuruwam Erome. Kuruwam's dad lived with his Dele-ag tribe in a settlement in the Forests of Boden, situated west of the township of Daru. Those were bad times as sorcery; head hunting and tribal warfare ravaged the land. His father owned the largest portion of land given to his Bodenang clan by their cultural hero Tubal.

Legend has it that Tubal walked from the Torres Straits giving land to everyone and changing his name each time. When he gave the land to the Bodenang, he called himself Tubal. He left sago to mark the land boundaries and created two Billabongs near the Bituri creek before leaving on the back of a crocodile towards Naigai – the East. Kuruwam was told by his dad to always look to the east because when Tubal returns the world would end.

It is said that in those days, men would come back from their raids carrying heads in woven nets. They’d be roasting human flesh as curious little boys looked on. They’d ask the boys if they wanted to eat some cassowary meat, which of course wasn’t cassowary meat but human.

When Kuruwam was a little boy he’d be offered this protein which he consumed without asking questions.

It was during his childhood that Kuruwam’s dad was killed under suspicious circumstances. His bloody body was found lying in little creek, said to be attacked by a crocodile. However, the creek was not known to be inhabited by a crocodile. Of course everyone knew it wasn’t a crocodile that attacked him, they all blamed a sorcerer whom they said had entered a crocodile and attacked Erome.

Kuruwam was taken under the wing of Kesa Ngiamang. Kesa owed Kuruwam a traditional debt in that he had used Kuruwam’s cousin sister as exchange for his bride. For it is the custom of the land that when a man marries a woman he puts his sister in exchange for the lady. It is traditionally referred to as erang in the Ende dialect. The bride’s male relatives are to marry the groom’s sister and the marriage is settled. No marriage can happen until the issue of the exchange of sisters is settled.

When Kesa was to marry Sigri, it is said that there was difficulty because he had no erang (sister to exchange). Kesa was figuratively told to go to the land of the Bodenang and find a frog in there in the bamboo and use it as his exchange. Kesa went to Dit where the Bodendang were camping and took a girl as his exchange. Her name was Tatan, the only sister of Nabo Dom and cousin of Kuruwam Erome. Nabo and Kuruwam’s fathers were brothers.

Thus, when Kuruwam’s dad was killed, Kesa became his guardian. It was under Kesa’s guidance that Kuruwam grew up to become a man.

When Kuruwam wanted to marry, Kesa gave him his daughter Amaru to put as exchange. However, this wasn’t a straightforward matter. Kuruwam worked in the garden and hunted cassowary for Kesa in order to have the right to use Amaru as his exchange.

Kuruwam married Waedar and Amaru was given to Waedar’s uncle Kobam. The marriage was settled.

Kuruwam lives today in Malam Village in the South Fly District of Western Province. His wife Waedar died in the 1980s. Amaru is alive as well while her husband Kobam is deceased. The people of Trans-Fly still practice sister exchange as opposed to payments of bride-price practiced by the rest of Papua New Guinea.





ABOVE: AMARU KESA pic by Sam Agisa

Acknowledgments: Many Thanks to Sam Agisa for the pictures and the Kuruwam Family for sharing their story

Note: Kuruwam Erome is the Author’s maternal grandfather

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Green Alternative

The Green Alternative

clip_image002Senator Bob Brown, the Leader of the Australian Greens Party, addressed an audience at the University of Papua New Guinea yesterday evening (1/05/2011). Senator Brown, who was elected into the Australian Upper House in 1996, became the Greens Leader in 2008 after a decade of being its de facto commander.

Senator Brown spoke of the growth of the Greens movement in Australia and around the world particularly within the context of the global environmental challenges that people face.

He was highly critical of the coal industry and particularly, Australia’s role as one of the largest coal exporters in the world. He said the coal industry in Australia made billions in profit with about 60% of those earnings going to pay overseas shareholders. The Australian people, through the Howard government, then invested AUD 500 million to pay the industry to research so called clean coal technology.

Mr. Brown said that even if the technology could be developed, many of the coal fired power plants could not be retro-fitted with such carbon sequestration technology and in any case, the AUD 500 million has not produced any such technology.

Senator Brown visited Madang during the last few days and was able to see for himself the Ramu Nickel-Cobalt project. He highlighted the fact that an Australian company is party to a plan to dump tailings into the sea bed. He said the Greens were preparing a Bill to make Australian Companies legally obliged to observe Australian Laws while in foreign jurisdictions.

He also expressed his grave concerns over the experimental deep sea mining project off the coast of New Ireland and New Britain. He said that on his return to Canberra he would push for an Australian Senate Inquiry into deep sea mining.

The Greens he said were not against progress but progress should not be at the expense of the rights of the people and the health of the environment. He said the Greens always considered the long term social and environmental implications of political decisions.

In speaking about the current moves in the Australian Parliament regarding carbon pricing, he noted that Julia Gillard promised the electorate that there would not be a carbon price. It was the reality of the Greens being holders of the balance of power, that the Labour Government has proposed this scheme. He said the Greens may not get everything they want out of the current scheme but it was a better alternative to Opposition Leader, Tony Abbot’s position regarding the matter.

Meanwhile, Senator Brown announced the election of Dorothy Tekwie as the Leader of the PNG Greens Party. Ms Tekwie’s brother and former Sandaun Governor John Tekwie then announced her intention to contest the Vanimo-Green Open electorate. Senator Brown commented that Papua New Guineans who believed in social justice and environmental stewardship now have the opportunity to have a voice through the Papua New Guinea Greens Party.