The Francis Nii Collection

Francis Nii & the green hills of SimbuPNG Attitude is asking for donations to publish a major book on the writing & remarkable life of  Francis Nii – author, publisher, literary leader & patriot. The book, compiled by a group of his colleagues, will include his best writing, his life story & his ideas for the proper development of a home-grown literature in Papua New Guinea


Thanks to Arthur Williams, Dr Gordon Pepeake, Judy Duggan, Ronald Sandell, Janis Roberts, Craig McConaghy, CY Young, Corney Korokan Alone & Tanya Zeriga Alone, Chris Overland, Bob Cleland, BK Bennett, Jim Moore, Joe Herman, Geoff Hancock, Dr Lance Hill, Ed Brumby, William Dunlop, Ross Wilkinson, Lindsay Bond, Paul Oates, Rob Parer, Robin Lillicrap, Philip Fitzpatrick, Ben Jackson, Bernard Corden, Keith Jackson AM
Bank transfers to Keith Jackson / NAB / BSB 082-302 / Account 50650-1355

Bravo! Another Metau epic on the way

Inspector Hari Metau
Inspector Hari Metau

If there was any justice in fiction writing, Phil Fitzpatrick’s Hari Metau series would have sold a million copies and be into its third movie by now. Instead, Phil is putting the final touches on the fifth book in the series and I – and many others who have grown to love the stories of the honest, hard-working detective hard at work in steamy, corrupt Port Moresby – will be grateful but unable to make Phil richer - KJ


TUMBY BAY - As far as I can work out I learned to read somewhere between my third and fourth birthdays.

By the time I was five I had worked my way through many of the popular children’s books then available, including James Barrie’s Peter Pan or The Boy who would not Grow Up.

Continue reading "Bravo! Another Metau epic on the way" »

The place that made so many of us

B&w Overland hline
Chris Overland - "My time in PNG made me who I am and I am supremely grateful for that"


ADELAIDE - Phil Fitzpatrick has raised the inevitable dying of the light for those of us who served as kiaps.

I find it incredible to think that it is now more than 50 years ago that I first stepped onto Papua New Guinean soil as a rather gormless 18 year old Assistant Patrol Officer.

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Bougainville presidential polling starts today

Demonstration for Bougainville high school students on how polling booths operate


BUKA – Young people in Bougainville are seizing the opportunity to help reshape the future of the autonomous region of Papua New Guinea as they began head to the polls yesterday to elect a new leader.

The general election is the first since Bougainville voted overwhelmingly for independence from PNG in a referendum at the end of last year, and the new president will manage negotiations on the terms of separation.

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The papers being sorted; the drawers emptied

Kiaps 1960
Newly recruited kiaps having completed their training in Port Moresby observe a march past by police in the early 1960s


TUMBY BAY - In an article a few days ago about Francis Nii and the effort to memorialise his contribution to Papua New Guinean literature, Keith Jackson reiterated an earlier comment that “this is likely to be PNG Attitude’s last big project. It was always going to happen that Phil Fitzpatrick and I would age and gradually run out of steam. Well, that point is arriving”.

I can wholly endorse that observation, no matter how hard I try to build up a head of steam about lots of things these days it seems to inevitably dissipate in ineffectual little puffs from all the leaks in the rusty old boiler.

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National Book Week is meaningless & vain

Francis Nii - "A meaningless and derisory celebration that should not be called National Book Week"


One year ago, Francis Nii wrote this article proposing how Papua New Guinea’s annual book week could be more relevant and useful by focusing on locally-authored books. Like much of what Francis wrote, his words were perceptive but ignored. This failure to listen to and act on good advice underpins much of PNG’s failure to progress the interests of its people….

KUNDIAWA - It is high time the meaningless and vain annual National Book Week was changed to make it become the vehicle for stimulating tangible benefits to writers and readers.

Every August features National Book Week. In Papua New Guinea gaudy banners of all sizes rustle in the dusty wind. Written on them is an ostensibly witty theme that nobody cares about.

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Reckless Healing


Always in a dilemma of loathing and loving
Your family that keep secrets
You are dismayed but they plead for your silence
It’s for your protection they say,
It’s for everyone’s peace
You want to disappear
But the feeble child inside you feels insecure
Home is what they provide
So you tolerate their exploitative ways
Yes, we all get broken any way
And a reckless healing would do anyway

Continue reading "Reckless Healing" »

Against the fading of the light

Francis Nii 2013
Francis Nii understood clearly that the grand enterprise of creating a national literature required more than writers


NOOSA – I spent the weekend reading through the archives of PNG Attitude between 2010 and now, extracting the writing by and about the late Francis Nii and, occasionally distracted by some other old article or incident it evoked, wandering along the trail of my own memories about this remarkable website.

Yes, in its 15th year, I think PNG Attitude is entitled to the honorific ‘remarkable’. I began publishing the blog when I was 59. I’m now 75. It has occupied a considerable chunk of my life and has been published almost each day – whether I was in Papua New Guinea’s remote highlands, in the middle of some ocean, even in hospital, where I have been too often these years.

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“We the unheard voices”, but for writers like Francis



LAE - Francis Sina Nii (Paradise in Peril), author, publisher and poet, passed away in Kundiawa town (Simbu Province) on 2 August 2020, just one month shy of a decade since I first met him.

While Francis fellow writers may wish to pay him good tributes, we should more so uphold his highest ideals and brightest dreams.

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Writer Francis Nii – The origin story


NOOSA – According to their first president, Micheal Yaki Mel, in late November 1984 “a group of eager young writers based at the University Papua New Guinea got together to express their dissatisfaction over the lack of publishing outlets for their work.

“Many had poems, stories and other tattered manuscripts tucked away which they couldn’t get published because they were unknown. From that meeting was both the Papua New Guinea Writers Union.”

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Old fogey cognitive deficit disorder


TUMBY BAY - You may have heard more than once persons of senior years proclaiming that the older they get the less they know.

That proclamation doesn’t mean a shrinking knowledge. What these aged folk mean is that the older they get the more they discover the vastness of human knowledge and the small part of it that they know or understand.

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A PNG politician, warts & all


Flight of Jungle Eagle – An Autobiography of Wake Goi, Francis Nii Publications, 2020, 168 pages, ISBN: 9798640309997, US$21.50 from

TUMBY BAY – This work is notable for a number of reasons including that it was the last book that was edited and published by Francis Nii, who most of our readers will know died on Sunday.

Francis worked on the book while he was ill, managing to complete it during a respite in his battle for survival. A battle he ultimately lost.

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On diplomatic doublespeak & intellectual dishonesty

Partner coverW D BROWNSMITH

CANBERRA - Zoom was the venue as Australia and Papua New Guinea relaunched their bilateral relationship on Wednesday.

Prime ministers Scott Morrison and James Marape then released a statement outlining a new comprehensive strategic and economic partnership between the two countries. (Although Mr Morrison was the only one to grace the washed out cover photo.)

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For James Marape, the biggest challenges await

James Marape - the uncertainties over coming months will test the resilience & stability of the country & his government

| The Interpreter | Lowy Institute

SYDNEY - The resilience and stability of Papua New Guinea is under growing strain as the country navigates what has already been an unprecedented year.

Beyond the increase in Covid-19 cases and the effect the virus is having on lives and livelihoods, the government has overcome a court challenge to the election of prime minister James Marape and has undertaken some significant law reforms on the mining and anti-corruption fronts.

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A Festschrift for Francis Nii

A rare group photo of Francis Nii with fellow writers Daniel Kumbon, Philip Fitzpatrick, Martyn Namorong and Keith Jackson (Brisbane Writers Festival, 2016)


NOOSA – In Germany a Festschrift is a book honouring a respected person. It is generally presented during their lifetime, although it can also be a memorial.

PNG Attitude’s Festschrift for the late author Francis Nii will take the form of an edited volume of Francis’s most significant essays, articles, poetry and commentary, his ideas and achievements and it will include fellow writers’ observations of his work, his methods and his life.

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A more pleasant fellow not to be found

Liz and Chenz at a reunion in 2011
Liz and Chenz at an ASOPA class  reunion in 2011


NOOSA – When the message circled the globe a few times and finally landed in my inbox it brought the gloomy news that Barry Whitby Vincent had died last Sunday. He would have been close to 80.

My immediate thought was of a young man with a friendly grin. A more pleasant fellow than Chenz not to be found.

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Hostile laws challenge Melanesian media

| Pacific Media Watch

AUCKLAND - Hostile media environments in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and West Papua pose growing challenges to the Melanesian region’s democracies, says Pacific Journalism Review in its latest edition.

The New Zealand-based research journal warns that laws and cultural restrictions are providing barriers to open information and are silencing journalists.

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Help us assemble the Francis Nii Collection


NOOSA – On this day Francis Nii, one of Papua New Guinea’s most eminent literary figures, is being buried in the soil of his Simbu homeland at Kundiawa.

And also today, PNG Attitude establishes a fund to ensure that the many words and deeds of Francis Nii will endure and not be lost to the future.

Early commitments to the fund already total $1,400 on the way to a target of $10,000.

Continue reading "Help us assemble the Francis Nii Collection" »

Francis Nii: Man of indomitable spirit

Francis & Jimmy
Francis Nii and Jimmy Drekore, both Crocodile Prize winners, on one of their many literary forays in the rugged mountains of Simbu


KUNDIAWA - In 2004 I was visiting sick kids in the isolation ward at Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial General Hospital when I met Francis Nii.

What intrigued me was that he had written a book, ‘Paradise in Peril’, while on his sick bed.

I had never before come across anyone publishing anything in such circumstances.

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Ordinary life in an extraordinary place


Better Than Rich and Famous: My Papua New Guinea Days by Nicholas C Brown, Mereo Books, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, 2020. ISBN: 9781861519641. 318 pages with illustrations. Available from Amazon Australia, Dymocks, Booktopia, Fishpond etc. for between about AU$33 and – AU$43. eBook for AU$4.29.

TUMBY BAY - Anyone who has worked in Papua New Guinea, past or present, will recognise the feeling. It lies somewhere between exasperation, despondency and hopelessness.

You arrive at a new posting and discover that it’s a mess. The airstrip is covered in grass a foot high amongst which half-wild cattle are grazing. The tractor and grass cutter is jacked up without wheels in a tilting shed or rusting out in the rain.

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A letter to my dear friend Francis Nii

Francis and Daniel in Brisbane  2016
Francis and Daniel in Brisbane, 2016


WABAG - Francis, I met you through your writing in 1985 in Ondobondo and later PNG Writer at the University of Papua New Guinea. But we never physically met.

Later I met you through your writing and comments in PNG Attitude.

I never imagined you sat in a wheelchair until I met you in Simbu in 2015 during the Crocodile Prize presentations.

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Unfinished journey: Francis Nii & the struggle for PNG literature

| First published in PNG Attitude, 3 July 2019

….If no one supports me
I alone will carry you

Until you smile and say
Papa, thank you I am healed

Then my heart will be at peace
My soul will rest….
                  - Francis Nii (2016)

PORT MORESBY - The twisted metal of a motor vehicle accident in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands nearly brought Francis Nii’s story to a dramatic end.

The crash, at the start of 1999, left him forever paralysed from the waist down and brought his promising career as an economist and financial adviser to a sudden halt.

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Some of the wise sayings of Francis Nii

Francis Nii at Sir Joseph Nombri Hospital  Kundiawa  2014KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - In the late Francis Nii’s  many articles for PNG Attitude and in his books are hundreds of aphorisms and wise thoughts.

Here are just a few I’ve quickly gathered.

”Keep hoping and keep searching with patience and you shall find the answer”

“Every wickedness has a cost. At the ripe time the perpetrator will each pay his price”

“One can escape from the court of justice through cunning and false device but the court of conscience is inescapable and sometimes the justice meted is fatal”

“The rural grass roots are survivors. They know how to survive in the harshest conditions and difficult moments. They will still survive whatever the situation”

“Keep dreaming and keep writing. A man with no dream has no purpose in life”

“This is Papua New Guinea, the land where corruption is a way of life”

“When political heroes of today are gone tomorrow and forgotten forever, writers will live on beyond the grave - and that's the beauty about writing even though there is no money in it”

“Literary excellence is the key to unlocking the hidden treasures of life. A nation without literature is a people with lost identity”

BushfireFrancis’s final project – February 2020

From his hospital bed and in his wheelchair Francis was a creative force and a meticulous planner and organiser.

When terrible bushfires devoured eastern Australia last summer, Francis decided to repay Australia’s long history of assisting Papua New Guinea by asking the Simbu people to raise K400,000.

“The great news is that I set the target at K400,000, which everybody thought was impossible. But now we have surpassed that.

“We will be presenting a check of K425,000 to the national government-sanctioned fundraising PNG Heart for Australia Bushfire Appeal.”

Francis Nii, eminent literary figure, dies in Kundiawa


NOOSA – Francis Sina Nii, the author, publisher, mentor and literary innovator, whose promising career as a banker was cut short in a vehicle accident that rendered him a paraplegic but who became a towering figure in Papua New Guinea literature, died yesterday afternoon at the age of 57.

Francis had been in ill health for some months but surviving crises was not new to him as he had fought many battles in his three decades in his bed in the critical care ward of Kundiawa General Hospital.

From this unlikely location he wrote articles, and a novel, often with no technical assistance other than a mobile phone.

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Bougainville must complete political journey

James Tanis - "Our aspirations for independence cannot be waylaid by impractical approaches"

| Former President of Bougainville

BUKA - Greater voter participation in this year’s Bougainville government general elections will demonstrate the province’s seriousness to initiate progress following the 98% affirmative independence vote in the referendum last year.

The outcome of the referendum does not mean Bougainville is well on its way to being a fully-fledged independent nation.

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PNG missing out on gold 'explosion'

Belden Namah - "The Marape government has totally failed the people at a time when they need their government the most"

| Leader of the PNG Opposition

PORT MORESBY - The price of gold has taken off around the world as the Covid-19 pandemic pushes investors to turn away from currencies to buy gold but PNG is missing out because of the continued closure of Porgera gold mine.

The government of prime minister James Marape is fully responsible for this loss of revenue because of its decision to refuse an extension of the special mining lease to Canadian miner Barrick and the protracted court proceedings that have resulted.

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Not safe for women

Final-year-UPNG-law-student-Olto-Thomas (ABC)
Final year UPNG law student Olto Thomas and her sign that caused a public outcry (ABC)


PORT MORESBY - I am so glad that a simple placard not even intended to stir up anything exploded into a nationwide conversation around security, safety and gender-based violence (GBV).

Let’s be honest, we need to have this conversation. The message the young woman Olto Thomas wrote – “PNG is not safe to live as a female” – was not an attack on anyone, regardless of gender.

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Poetry at random

SomareFrom Sana: An Autobiography by Michael Somare

After the snake ceremony I was taught the timit songs. Only Saub lnew these songs, and he had to repeat them ten times so that I could learn them. When the time for the timit songs had come Saub rose to his feet. There was silence.

Now you have left your mother’s womb
You have come to this place to receive power.
With this power you must go out and lead -
lead in initiation, lead in fight, lead in peacemaking.
The strength now has been given to you.

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Hail Meri


I didn’t see my baby after the Caesarian. My sedated state made it impossible to do that.

After the procedure, the baby was taken from the operating theatre and brought to the nursery. I was told I would not see my miracle until I was able to sit up in bed.

I was afraid I might not recognise my baby.

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What do Papuans really want?

Not monkey
"The issue of racism in Papua is a serious failure and will end up costing Indonesia the very thing they are trying to hold on to"


CANBERRA - On Tuesday 14 July, Antara News in Jakarta published an article by Jaleswari Pramodhawardani of the Presidential Staff Office on President Joko Widodo’s approach in handling West Papua issues.

According to Pramodhawardani, lack of welfare is to blame for problems in West Papua. She concluded that Jokowi plans to resolve West Papua’s issues through various development programs.

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Scammers are on the rise again

Nigerian scammers hard at work trying to steal your money


TUMBY BAY - I received an interesting email this morning. It came from Nigeria telling me I had won US$70 million in a lottery I had never entered.

It wasn’t so much that this was obviously a scam but that it came from Nigeria.

I haven’t had a scam email from the west African country in over two years. Once upon a time they were almost a daily event.

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Tanis urges optimism on Covid-19

James Tanis
James Tanis - "“My people of Bougainville will get through this pandemic. We are a resilient people who have faced adversity and prevailed time and time again...."


BUKA - Bougainvilleans are being urged to remain vigilant and to comply with state of emergency orders in light of the growing concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic which has already hit Port Moresby.

Former Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) president James Tanis has urged Bougainvilleans throughout PNG to adhere to restrictions to mitigate the spread of the virus.

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Ethnicism - group survival; root of racism

Ethnic diversity strengthens and enriches societies but can also be a source of conflict


NORTHUMBRIA, UK – The continued aggressive suppression of black skinned former slaves in the United States has triggered fierce global outrage.

The wave of anger sparked by the murder of George Floyd implied that racism is directed exclusively against black skinned people and that the only perpetrators are white.

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Covid-19 exposes gross failures

Phil Fitzpatrick: "The K70 million the World Bank gave PNG months ago to prepare for the pandemic has mysteriously disappeared"


TUMBY BAY - Covid-19 is having a remarkable impact all over the world as it exposes the ideological and structural shortcomings of government and corporate entities.

In the USA and Britain, the bumbling incompetence of their leaders is shown in the disastrous statistics related to rates of infection and deaths from the virus.

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Mine waste debate divides Huon people

Huon dumpingSCOTT WAIDE
| My Land, My Country

LAE - Papua New Guinea’s environment minister has tried to ease tensions over the proposal to dump mine waste into Huon Gulf in Morobe Province.

Wera Mori says it has not been decided if tailings from the K17 billion Wafi-Golpu project will be disposed using deep sea tailing. But he also admitted that the construction of a tailings dam is not part of the plan.

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PNG hospitals brace for Covid-19 surge

James Marape
James Marape says PNG's health system cannot deal with a widespread outbreak of coronavirus (AAP)

| Guardian Australia| Judith Nielson Institute

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea’s Covid-19 outbreak could overwhelm its health system within days, the country’s pandemic chief has warned, as masks have been made compulsory in the capital, and the government has called in the World Health OrganiSation and the military for help.

PNG’s pandemic response controller David Manning said a dedicated isolation unit established in Port Moresby to treat Covid-19 could soon be overwhelmed if current infections trends continue.

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Covid emergency cannot fix years of neglect

Nurse sits at a screening station in East New Britain (Kalo Fainu  The Guardian)
Nurse sits at a screening station in East New Britain (Kalo Fainu/ The Guardian)

| Asia & Pacific Policy Society | Edited extracts

PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea has registered 39 positive Covid-19 cases, most of them in the last week, leading to the reinstatement of a range of measures to limit the spread of the disease as a second lockdown is imposed.

PNG’s reliance on a state of emergency and lockdowns to contain Covid-19 is proving difficult due to years of government negligence that have led to both poor health infrastructure and limited police and military capabilities, including the ability to adequately police unauthorised movements across PNG’s borders.

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Confusion surrounds Covid-19 fight in PNG

Covid gear
Smartly dressed aid officials from PNG, Australia and WHO pose with a box symbolising the energy behind the campaign to fight Covid-19 in PNG. But sometimes photos don't tell the real story


NOOSA – Late last week Papua New Guinea cried out for international emergency medical teams to assist its operations to fight Covid-19.

PNG police commissioner and emergency controller David Manning issued the alert after the number of Covid-19 cases in PNG more than doubled last week to an official figure of 39, with the bulk of those recorded at Port Moresby general hospital and centred on the infectious diseases unit.

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The warriors who had no name

Nameless Warrios headGREGORY BABLIS

The Ben Moide Story: Nameless Warriors by Lahui Ako, University of Papua New Guinea Press, 2012, 246 pages. ISBN      9980869577. Order online or purchase from the UPNG Press & Bookshop, Port Moresby

PORT MORESBY – Ben Moide was one of the youngest members of the Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB), a unit of the Australian Army formed in 1940, the first 63 recruits being old or volunteer police officers, some with considerable experience patrolling with the kiaps.

However Moide’s picture of the PIB was not one of glorious comradeship, but of tribal enmities, tensions even amongst kinsmen, dissension, desertion and discrimination between mixed race and other troops. The PIB lost 60% of its members due to such issues.

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Kipilan’s moka exchange

Jeremiah Munini
Jeremiah Munini


PORT MORESBY - Kipilan, a leader of the Yanarian people near Wabag in Enga Province, was born in Tambori village, in the 1920s.

Three months before Papua New Guinea’s independence on 16 September 1975, he went to Port Moresby to record the story of his life in the Enga language and anthropologist Philip Nere translated it to English.

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Covid is real & we should be too


“No doc we ain’t got no COVID. Stop trying to squeeze water out of a stone. The models aren’t wrong, you are wrong. The clinical and epidemiological evidence isn’t there!” (Martyn Namorong replies to a newspaper article by asserting there’s no Covid-19 in Papua New Guinea)

ADELAIDE - I struggle to understand why Martyn Namorong, who seems a pretty smart guy, would be saying that Covid-19 is a hoax. I'll do him the courtesy of assuming he was being ironic.

The notion that Covid-19 is a hoax appears to originate, as do so many truly batshit crazy ideas, in the fermentation tank of genius and idiocy that is the United States.

Continue reading "Covid is real & we should be too" »