Gone, Beeps, in a great flipping flaming flambe
Rampaging police hold Sepik village to ransom

Yu save olsem wanem: Winmoni ikamap nating?

PAUL OATES examines whether there’s any difference between cargo cultists & modern investors seeking astronomical returns

Oates Paul In Anthropology lectures at the Australian School of Pacific Administration during our training as kiaps to work in the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea, we were briefed about a strange phenomena called ‘cargo cult’.

This concept arose when some people in PNG first saw the material possessions (‘cargo’) brought by the newcomers. Quite naturally, they wondered why they didn’t possess these marvelous items.

The missionaries seemed to provide the answer. They preached about their god and how through prayer all things are possible. It didn’t take long for the idea to form that something had happened to interrupt the equitable flow of these material goods. After all, in most traditional PNG societies, everyone shared almost everything.

Obviously these westerners had done something mystical and a way needed to be found to remedy the bottleneck. Then the flow of material goods would commence and people would also get their fair share.

So it was that many villagers tried to establish a connection with the flow of material goods from on high. The so-called cargo cults, which were frustrated by government officials who took a dim view of such mystical arrangements.

The thinking behind cargo cults was regarded by westerners as primitive and uneducated. But what was the real reasoning behind what was being expressed? The basic concept, after all, seemed to be, in essence, how to obtain wealth without having to work for it. In Tokpisin, this may be expressed as ‘Winmoni ikamap nating’.

Now doesn’t this ring a bell? On a recent visit to Melbourne, I walked through a quarter of a kilometre of poker machines and gambling tables at Crown Casino to get to the restaurant. Thousands of people were playing these games of chance and presumably expecting to receive more money than they were outlaying. Were they working hard to produce something of value? Or hoping to receive a reward for little effort?

You can read Paul’s complete article here:  Download 'Winmoni ikamap nating'.


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Paul Oates

40th Anniversary of the moon landing

This is the 40th anniversary of the first Moon Landing. I understand that the computer they had on board the Lunar landing craft was so limited in memory that Neil Armstrong had to wipe the data of how to land the craft and reprogram the machine to enable them to take off. Many feel that this was his really great feat of the whole mission. What if under pressure he got the programming wrong?

Isn't it amazing that millions of people can tell you where they were when they saw the first pictures of the Moon landing and what Armstrong said as he first put his foot on the Moon's surface. "One small step for man and one giant leap for mankind".

There has to be something ironic in that as we watched those grainy BW TV pictures in the Lunch room at ASOPA, we left not long afterwards for the relative antipodes of our TPNG outstations.

At the time, no one seemed at all interested that Australians were going back in relative time to bring people forward and that the Americans were going forward to bring something back. Mind you, nothing seems to have changed that perception in the last 40 years?

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