Dr Anastasia Sai, the great literary mentor of Divine Word Uni
20 November 2014
THE Crocodile Prize Anthology 2014 has so reached the Department of PNG Studies and International Relations, the Department of Communication Arts and Divine Word University’s Friendship library.
The Department of PNG Studies and International Relations houses the Bachelor’s degree that writer Leonard Fong Roka and his comrades qualified for as they completed their university studies this year.
The PNG Studies and International Relations program offers a unique degree merging social science disciplines like community development, anthropology, gender studies, literature, history, politics and international relations.
The cross cutting nature of the program ensures that students are empowered with a variety of knowledge and skills tailored to the PNG experience.
Unfortunately, this year literature was shown the door. The department no longer offers PNG literature, post-colonial literature, creative writing and other literature units. Graduates have complained they want courses with substance and fancy names that are attractive to employers.
I thought that if the University had aggressively marketed the degree program including literature then organisations would have understood its aim.
Senior lecturer Dr Anastasia Sai (pictured with me) used to teach most of the literature courses before the changes and I was pleased to be able to present her with five Crocodile Prize Anthologies for the Department of PNG Studies and International Relations.
Most of the current and former PNG Studies student writers who featured in the Crocodile Prize literary competition over the years have taken her literature courses. Popular writers like Leonard Fong Roka and Lapieh Landu were both mentored by this hard working academic.
Dr Sai has many qualifications, the notable ones being her doctorate studies on gender and her master’s degree in post-colonial literature. She has taught literature at secondary and tertiary level for many years.
She said she has a lot of poems and short stories written by her students over the years. She hopes with the help of Pukpuk Publishing and the authorisation from authors she can publish a collection.
On behalf of the department, Dr Sai thanked the Crocodile Prize Organisation for its generous gift and for keeping PNG literature alive. She said it is very encouraging to see current and former students engaged in sharing their knowledge through the Crocodile Prize literary competition.
Apart from the prominent achievers like Leonard and Lapieh, there are many other DWU students who are making their mark in the PNG literary scene thanks to the Crocodile Prize.
Martinez Wasuak is a recent graduate who featured in the 2013 Crocodile Prize Anthology. She is now a trainee foreign service officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs. Martinez is also a regular commentator on PNG Attitude.
Cecilia Bula is another former graduate who contributed poems in this year’s Anthology. She is working for the University as the executive assistant to the Dean for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Albert Kaupa Tobe is a lecturer in the Department of Governance and Leadership. He is another PNG Studies graduate who has a master’s degree in International Development from Tsinghua University in Beijing. He has contributed to both the 2013 and the 2014 Anthologies.
Obed Ikupu and Terence Ako will be completing their studies next year. Obed has contributed a stunning poem which captures the first-time experiences of a high school student. While Terence wrote a fascinating heritage piece about customary marriage protocols among the Aekyom and Gogodala people.
The Department hopes that more current and former students including staff members will enter the competition in 2015 to share their knowledge about PNG with the rest of the world.
May her soul in peace.
We miss you already. Much love from us, the family here in Megiar Village, Madang Province.
Posted by: Raymond Subong | 15 June 2020 at 06:29 PM
Bernard, - thank you for this information. I knew Anastasia had been sick for some time.
She was a good and kind lady. May she rest in peace.
Posted by: Garry Roche | 29 May 2020 at 03:36 PM
To readers and fellow bloggers, I would like to inform you that Dr Anastasia Sai passed away yesterday.
May she rest in eternal peace.
On my own behalf and that of our readers, may I offer our great sadness to Dr Sai's family and colleagues - KJ
Posted by: Bernard Yegiora | 29 May 2020 at 10:49 AM
Very interesting. I really admire the Crocodile Prize competition. It help enrich our English skills both written and spoken. It also helps us address current issues we face and need to find some solution to.
PNG Studies and International is the best department in DWU with the courses studied are of immense influence to the current trend of development and change.
Posted by: Koni Poiye | 16 April 2018 at 09:44 AM
I went to DWU among other many reasons because I saw literature courses in PNG Studies.
Now they slowly ebb away and we have to break our necks hunting for resources in the vast DWU environment.
Posted by: Leonard Fong Roka | 25 November 2014 at 08:39 AM
Thanks Anastasia. I remember once many years ago when you put me to shame in Harrods in London in the book department.
You had read all the important works there and I had read so few!
Posted by: Fr Philip Gibbs SVD | 21 November 2014 at 05:25 PM
Angra Ben. I am enjoying the environment and the Friendship library service at DWU now.
The Crocodile anthology will find its space among the books and other materials in the library.
Posted by: Bomai D Witne | 21 November 2014 at 02:37 PM
Eloquently expressed, Dr Salonda.
Posted by: Bernard Yegiora | 21 November 2014 at 12:13 PM
Hmmm, am I sensing a historical rat here?
Ludmilla Salonda was once a Literature lecturer of DWU. Her comments appear to lend some credence to my assumption.
Corney detected that old rat on Twitter a couple of days ago. He clearly has very finely honed sense of smell. What can you say when a respected University and a High Commission think so little of literature that they give it the arse - KJ
Posted by: Corney Korokan Alone | 21 November 2014 at 11:04 AM
I find it ironic to see that a department which in its collective and, I would argue, misguided wisdom excised Literature from its curriculum now promoting it's value.
No it was never about marketing, it was about a philistine takeover of a program.
Posted by: Ludmilla Salonda | Once a Literature Lecturer | 21 November 2014 at 10:03 AM
Nema you hit the nail on the head.
Posted by: Bernard Yegiora | 21 November 2014 at 09:48 AM
It's a shame Literature has been dropped! I found it to be the most practical course I took at undergraduate level. It made post-grad in health very easy for me.
So I guess the department is now just offering international relations and diplomacy topics. Well, if they want thinking diplomats they should keep the Literature stream.
Posted by: KH Nema | 20 November 2014 at 11:57 PM
Indeed Dr Sai , being who she was, was an inspiration to me and her tutorials on Gender Equity were an aid to my writing.
A very vocal woman and I respect her for her constant belief in women arising.
Posted by: Lapieh Landu | 20 November 2014 at 02:42 PM
As a former PNG Studies student I was one of those students who complained about studying South Pacific and PNG Literature as I thought it was a waste of time.
But after attending the classes and learning from Dr Sai I came to appreciate how literature fits in with the overall aims and objectives of PNG Studies Department.
I found out that it is not about those poems and stories or essays but the message in them was important in analysing and understanding the changes and developments that affected us indigenous people of the South Pacific.
Most importantly it tries to highlight how we think about ourselves as opposed to a foreigners' views of us. I still remember clearly when we read Epeli Hau'ofa's essay and I was given the part to analyse what he meant by saying "Our sea of Islands or Our islands in the Sea".
I still remember clearly Dr Sai explaining the diferrence between these two views and I must say I was amazed and proud at this discovery of how these short phrase can capture a lot of things and feelings.
It's sad to learn that it not going to be offered any more but I count myself lucky to have studied these units as it still very much influences my world view of development and of life as a Melanesian.
Thank you, Dr Sai, you're the best!
Posted by: Jack Klomes | 20 November 2014 at 12:25 PM
It is sad and a lost to hear that the department no longer offers Literature courses. As a former student, I can say that I think it is quiet great and interesting to gain knowledge of Literature.
When we study literature seriously we can learn how to explore and analyse different text at any time which we can’t find difficulty when we want to analyse the text.
It will also help us to be more responsive to good writing in all aspects of works carried out in the work place. When we study novels or short stories, it will help us to become better readers and also better person psychologically.
Through these four years, sailing the boat with Dr Sai as a great mentor in this course, it helps a lot to become analytical and critical.
Agreed with you Mr Yegiora, “If the University had aggressively marketed the degree program including literature then organisations would have understood its aim.”
But thanks to the Crocodile Price for making it possible for more Papua New Guineans to write and see their own work being published.
Posted by: Martinez Wasuak | 20 November 2014 at 09:31 AM
I confirn that there is a serious drop in the level English. That is why we want students to read more so they can improve their English both written and spoken.
Posted by: Bernard Singu Yegiora | 20 November 2014 at 08:54 AM
Thanks for presenting the anthologies Mr Yegiora. Literature was one of the best courses we learned during my time as a student with the Department of PNG Studies. Dr Sai was a great mentor.
Literature courses were the best and I had the chance to understand post colonial writers' experiences and their themes.
It was a good experience to learn the concepts of literature and I am sad to hear that the courses are now done away with. History through understanding colonial and post colonial literature is important.
And now, with the low academic results by our current generation in English literature, courses are a great tool to improve English through constant reading.
Thank you Dr Sai for sharing your experiences in understanding and writing literature.
Posted by: Fidelis Sukina | 20 November 2014 at 08:31 AM