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The white’s man materialism

MARTINEZ WASUAK | A new Papua New Guinean poet

Here, take my speed boat
Give me your wooden canoe
Here, take my steel axe
Give me your stone axe

Here, take my cash
Give me your tapu
Here, take my steel pot
Give me your clay pot

Here, take my jewelry
Give me your kina shell
Here, take my linen lap lap
Give me your grass skirt

Here, take my magneto
Give me your bamboo fire stick
Here, take my linen bag
Give me your feathery bilum

Here it’s white’s man materialism
That diminishes traditional lifestyle

Martinez Wasuak is a Year 4 student in the Department Of PNG Studies and International Relations at Divine Word University in Madang


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Zenitram Dee

Idsed Mitamol - That phrase "Maski lo pairap natin, tintin na toktok! You sa wokim kar to a?... sounds empty, please refresh your analytical skills once again.

Is the poem really blaming? How do you analyse it? You said someting about restraining from eating rice...that sounds childish.

We accept the changes that are taking place which in fact diminish the traditional lifestyle, that's it.

Local Papua New Guineans are now growing their own rice for consumption. It is all due to the changes that we adopt from outsider.

If there is no such poetry, how can the up coming generation know we once have such lifestyle, which they can know that due to Changes we now adopt other cultures but we once have our own unique culture.

At least thing outside the box.

Michael Dom

As a regular contributor of poetry and commentator on many of the poetic works I'm always glad to read feedback from readers.

I welcome the comments by 'Idsed Mitamol' and 'Bai Ngai Seg' to Martinez challenging work. (Are these pseudonyms?)

But I disagree with the last comment made by Idsed, which is misguided and 'diminishes traditional life'.

Martinez poem is well thought out. Idesed should consider what it means to manufacture motor vehicles and if this is a desirable industry for PNG.

This is what the poem asks us to question. What is relevant to us, at what change, at what gain and what cost?

Idsed Mitamol

Imagine how life will be without lamp, axe, knife, medicine, fast transport ...

Would PNG's population be like today or would most of us not be in this world and the place we call it our home?

I think most of us will not be here because of fighting and no proper medicine to prevent infant mortality and maternal mortality.

Will we use technology we are using it to write and communicate to blame the white men. Whose materials are we using it today, was it made by our ancestors?

If we are to blame the white men then we better go to jungles and stay there na tambu lo kaikai rice, go lo skul and wokim ol narapla samting ol white man is givim lo yumi.

Maski lo pairap natin, tintin na toktok! You sa wokim kar to a?

Bai Ngai Seg

How will be life in PNG like today if no white men came to our country, will it be like today or it will be like in the past where our ancestors used to kill each other to defend their territoris and properties?

In the past, our ancestors do not know that there are other people existing and they saw other fellow PNGans from other tribes and clans as enemies.

I think PNGeans we should not blame the white men for what they have brought to us because we have been fighting each others for many years and the white men have brought a modern form of civilisation that now we enjoy today. The whites men desire is to make sure we have a good life, free, fair and healthy.

We should not claim to be unique and some how superior than others. The world civilization has went to a process. White men society has gone throught different forms of civilizations. We too but ours was at a slow rate coz we were isolated so it is difficult for our ancestors to progress fast.

I think we should appreciate what the white men has done to us, especially PNGeans we are luckier than others.

Monica Jean George

This is seriously a very nice poem, it's so countless and rich. I learnt a lot but could never deny this blending poem.

Literature can be so pure yet conveys a fertile message, they gave us what they had and it has affected us so. They got what we innocently had.

What went wrong then? Did they then throw it, or we simply are trying to throw it away?

Michael Dom

A quick and well expressed rejoinder Chris Overland.

I suppose you have to be from a colonised people to feel a bias towards the kind of argument that MW's quatrain suggests.

Again we could argue that 'white man' also introduced new diseases we never had (and who was that who tried to patent a unique PNG blood type?); and introduced an economic philosophy that harbored the cargo-cult, because society was otherwise unprepared for it.

Moreover, a new kind of poverty has been created as we now live in the dust and ashes of the Melanesian Way; a false sense of tribal instinct without the logic of respect, shared responsibilities and benefits our ancestors may have had; a poverty of social justice and equity amidst a growing ability and freedom to do each other more violence.

It's probably just semantics whether materialism or materials brings possibilities, i.e. the ideology or the technology? I'd argue that the latter is neutral.

But I don't hold to the notion that 'this is all the white-mans fault'. We're, most of us, a little smarter now than we were in Somare's hey day.

Perhaps the 'darkness of neon lights' has already blinded us to the possibilities of a better Papua New Guinea.

Chris Overland

This is a splendid poem. It highlights some of the adverse impacts of western thought and technology on traditional PNG society.

Fair comment. But consider this:

Here, take my medicine
Give me your illness and disease
Here, take my knowledge
Give me your ignorance and superstition

Here, take my economic philosophy
Give me your poverty
Here, take my law and justice
Give me your anarchy and violence

Here, its the white man's materialism
That helps create new possibilities.

By all means criticise the crass materialism that is one aspect of western culture. It certainly deserves criticism. But remember there is more to it than that.

Write on!

Best wishes to the budding poet.

Axel Rice

Nicely conveyed!

Michael Dom

Interesting poem Martinez Wasuak.

Reminiscent of Lapieh Landu's 'This new way' (here

Except that your piece makes me think of an exchange taking place, where we have willingly adopted the 'white man's materialism'.

One is left to wonder who really got the better of the deal. Here we are still a struggling developing country, while some of the original artefacts that were the tools and materials that our ancestors valued and relied upon, are mueseum exhibits in the developed world, fetching million dollar price tags.

"What has it gots in its pocketses, My Precious?"

Steve Muhammad Gallagher

Nice Tuta, Keep up your good writing skills.

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