There is a certain innate camaraderie that lies dormant for much of the year and emerges during the Independence celebrations in in Papua New Guinea. One can be sceptical about it and shy away from the festivities or join other fellow Papua New Guineans who are increasingly finding their identity in the nation state and not in their indigenous tribal groupings.
Today I saw typical highlander looking kids wearing PNG shirts, carrying Radaaz bags and waving Madang flags. These children do not have the sectarian prejudices and many adult Papua New Guineans have and they hold the hopes of a nation in defining its destiny based on commonality of identity and purpose in nation building. The question though remains – will they grow up with this tolerance and fraternity or ill the adults pollute their minds with sectarian prejudices.
Note here that I am referring to sectarian prejudices as opposed to tribal identity. I appreciate the need for many of us Papua New Guineans to be grounded in our tribes and our customary land. I am referring though to the prejudices that lead to a general mistrust in our society.
Economists have found that nations with low levels of trust amongst home populations are generally trouble by strive and lack of peace and progress.
On Independence Day today many city residents came out of their barb-wire fences and iron-clad home to celebrate our unity as a nation. I walked through the crowds of red, black and gold and never did I feel intimidated. I took pictures on my iPad and no one bothered to harass me. For once, the city of Port Moresby emerged as a tribe, as one people under one flag. At least for a day, we all trusted each other in our pursuit of happiness, to celebrate nationhood and celebrate our sense of being one people.
I hope the spirit of independence day 2013 continues and everyone acts synergistically to enrich and enhance the lives of fellow citizens. 38 years on we still have a long way to go in terms of nation building and equitable and sustainable development but lets not beat ourselves down and instead inspire each other to strive for higher ideals based on our human potential for goodness as demonstrated by today’s events.
Happy 38th Independence Papua New Guinea