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Father Christmas attitude is destroying enterprise in PNG

Father ChristmasFELIX BARAKA

FATHER Christmas is a personification of British folklore. A legendary old man with a long white beard who, dressed in garish red clothing, bring presents to little children.

The concept has interested me since I observed an elderly man confronted by bystanders, probably his friends, who insisted he buy them drinks.

He objected, replying, “I am not Father Christmas”.

As I attempted to understand the meaning of the term ‘Father Christmas’, I noticed how his friends were just standing around doing nothing.

The context provided the definition. A ‘Father Christmas’ in the sense the elderly man used the term meant he was not a person to entertain free riders or to adopt a free hand-out attitude.

As an educated person, reflecting on this concept of Father Christmas, I was shocked.

Father Christmas is an attitude which is breeding into Melanesian society, probably dating back to colonisation.

Looking at it closely - in the context of family, community and the nation as a whole – the Father Christmas attitude has increasingly been eating away at PNG.

In the family sphere, even though the when sons and daughters marry, they continue to depend on their family to support them.

Sons and daughters completing their education still hang around the house without doing anything. Yet their parents are feeding them.

Young people in relationships put pressure on their parents for more remuneration to feed the relationship.

I think this is one of the chief contributing factors to divorce and other family problems, when the partner realise support has been cut off.

Looking at the community, the people’s mentality is that the leader is the one who will provide them with everything. So, when the leader does not do anything in their favour, they destroy public property in the community.

They forget it is their community which they are responsible for. So we see communities disintegrate.

Look at the nation. We claimed that land is the source of PNG livelihood. Yet we have a lot of people on the street begging and attacking others to survive.

Children who grow up with a Father Christmas view of life are weakening the country.

As the children grow up, the parents realise they cannot afford to meet their demands. The kids look for an easy way out. Girls turn to prostitution and boys get involved in criminal activities.

If you trace it back, they were taught to be fed and not work. They were not being challenged, instead they found Father Christmases.

Look at the way our leaders behave. They provide free handouts by giving people money. People have no reason to be industrious and creative. They are not challenged to be initiators, instead they wait for leaders to come and give instead of creating something for themselves.

Looking internationally, our leaders receive free hand-outs from foreign donors. They are being Father Christmased by foreign powers who pursue their self-interest. Not surprisingly, multinational corporations and powerful institutions derail and displace the principled functioning of the country.

This attitude of Father Christmas is killing enterprise in many young people in both public and private spheres of life.

For almost 39 years now we’ve been contaminated by the lofty do-it-for-me culture. It’s a mentality we need to change.


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Robin Lillicrapp

Historically, it may be thought as a "Father Christmas" - like offering in Australia when someone is on welfare benefit from Centrelink.

What would Aussies do if that were not available in times of hardship?

I suppose it is a refined form of wantok system. It breeds dependent attitudes too.

Felix Baraka

Hi, Kevin thanks for the contribution in comments for the article. Yes I do agree with you in the context of Christmas where those having children and siblings, for at least once a year to look forward to. Just look at the context. If you every Christmas, do this to your child, the child will always expect something something from you every Christmas. Firstly, what do you think the child will feel and you have nothing for him? Secondly, do you think this will become a habit, as a grown up, and that will be contagious enough to influence his dependency on you in other spheres of life?

Practice form habits, and habits influence your character

Tanya Zeriga Alone

Most of us in the current generation are lost in transition - moving from the village to the city - most of us were not prepared for the life we are living. Our fathers and our grandfathers did not prepare us how to function in this new lifestyle. How could they have known the challenges?

Most of us have learnt how to live the approved life and to navigate the quagmire of a western society in the process of living: through education, by observing others, reading, and being exposed to new ideas through travel, movies and meeting new people.

The nuances of living in a western styled society governed by laws of western origin - we will not begin to grasp until we have immersed ourselves fully in such a life style.

It is no wonder, when faced with a challenge, we revert to the default - the habit we saw growing up.

To move on, we have to stop blaming our past and try to break the cycle of ignorance and laziness to change.

As stated, education is one way to bring people up to speed. After the education, provide the jobs and the minimum wage must be enough to enable independent living.

It is not a hopeless case so don't be too hard on us, things will get better.

Bernard Yegiora

Recently I saw people getting angry because a particular member of parliament did not pay outstanding school fees for a student in his electorate. The trend of students depending on their MPs for school fees from their District/Provincial Services Improvement Program funds is part of the free handout culture.

Suzie M Maki

Interesting article, Felix.

Michael Dom

Good one Felix.

It's gonna take honest, hard work to lift PNG not hand out mentality.

Kevin O'Regan

Felix, I are not sure that we can blame poor old Saint Nick (Father Christmas) for the cargo cult mentality that seems to be endemic throughout Papua New Guinea at this present time.

You allude to his descent from Britain yet the picture I are reasonably sure is not from British descent. Your article is correct in many spheres and examples used... but not Santa Claus as our children and grand children have learned to call him...

Christmas is for kids and those of us whom love our siblings... and kids all need something at least once a year to look forward to. Please reread your heading.

It is not Father Christmas (a folk lore character) that is currently destroying PNG, rather the hand out mentality that is endemic from the corridors of power right down to the examples you have used in the family...

"I'm not Father Christmas," is a long established Australian retort to someone asking for a favour the respondent doesn't want to give. It has no reference to the religious festival. And the pic is ironic. Hope that clears things up, Kev - KJ

John Kaupa Kamasua

Enterprise, hard work or just genuine ordinary work, all work defines us as humans. Work is not only an economic necessity but a way of life for us as humans. The need to work has always been in our blood, and should I go further and say our DNA?

So I among many people will have a problem if someone does not work to earn his bread, either by preying on the weak or waiting at the table of the rich powerful, and influential.

What sort of human beings would they be, and what name should we call them?

Educated people are doing that too so it is not only education but values and early training to work hard for whatever one wants in life.

Felix Baraka

I think so. Yep. And education I think is the way forward.

Emmanuel Unakau

101% support, bro, what you are saying is right and has been practised in PNG for too long.

Can educated people voice their thoughts about this very issue?

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