Jack Metta is a columnist and feature writer with The National in Papua New Guinea. More than that, he's one of the best English-language stylists writing in PNG today: acute in choice of subject; definitive in story execution; easy of prose. In his columns, Jack has recently covered a debate that has been raging in PNG about whether some schoolday literary icons should be honoured with PNG's highest honour, the Order of Logohu. Front and centre in this debate are Yokomo and his dog Omokoy.
Now you may recall Yokomo as the fictitious hero of comic stories published in the PNG School Papers during the 1960s. I dropped a note to tell Jack that Yokomo was created by ex-Asopian [1957-58] Frank Hiob with John Lucas drawing the pictures. When transferred from my school in the bush to Konedobu in 1966 to edit the School Papers, I inherited Yokomo and, for a reason lost in obscurity, decided he needed a dog. So was created Omokoy. "I have often wondered where the origins of this duo lay," wrote Jack politely, "and now I know. There is practically nothing in the archives these days to follow up the past."
LITERARY ICONS DESERVE AWARDS
By Jack Metta
If Yokomo was to be awarded the highest Order of Logohu, would he be known through our history as Grand Chief Yokomo in honour of his contributions to the human resource development of PNG?
Perhaps, but then his trusty dog, Omokoy would be as equally qualified to be recognised as Grand Chief Omokoy, in honour of its canine antics which brought fun and joy to thousands of young Papua New Guineans.
By the same token, similar recognition would then have to accorded to such characters as Raka, Ranu, Malot, Tabu, Kinobo and the rest of the cast, who, during a phase of our life times, reigned supreme in the classrooms and our imaginations, and, continue to do so today.
That was the argument Iariva posed during a heated debate on how to acknowledge the contributions of these imaginary characters, who had figured prominently in shaping the personalities and the characters of hundreds of thousands of us today.
The fact that this column is writing about them; their names continue to ride our airwaves in school broadcasts; and, the language that we are now communicating in, English, attests to the reality that these imaginary figments of some expatriate officer in the educational system of the pre and post independence days, had never departed or erased from our memories.
[Source The National, Papua New Guinea]