An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism
WHAT lies beyond downtown is the result of greed. While we take pride at our advancement to become a member of the Club of Extraordinary Gentlemen, our modernity has led us beyond the realm of reality.
Beyond downtown are slums crushed under the weight of oppression and a city run by Harvey Two Face and his joker friends. This is a city where progress is in the hands of the few, whose impregnable walls overlook its scenic waterfront.
The taxman is happy to give the man with the briefcase the liberty to “take it all with both hands” while he comes after the man steeped in honesty and hard work demanding he pay.
Suffocating under this wicked regime, we are reminded to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.
Beyond downtown are dreams waiting to fly.
You find them clustering on a footpath corner or scampering across the road in the midst of busy traffic to earn a dime.
They lie flightless with no hope in secret places where insincerity abounds and death stares them in their eye.
They rarely stroll into our mind or walk into our sight as we look through the windows of our high offices. Yet we go to them to seek their hand in marriage when we seek re-election to public office.
Beyond downtown are a people willing to climb to the top of the hill to taste the air of prosperity and success, yet their journey is long and steep covered with boulders of green paper.
While we seek to embrace the world with open arms we turn our backs on our people. By day we dine at Madam Grand Papua’s Palace and by night we flaunt our black money at Cosmopolitano or Club Gold.
We live a double life like agent James Bond, yet the price of our game is the lives of our people. Our mistresses walk around with masks over their face, flaunting money on manicures, high heels and polish.
In a city of vision we claim to seek refuge from the profanity of our primitive culture because we see the world through the specks placed upon our eyes by an individualistic philosophy alien to the knowledge and understanding inherited from our forefathers.
Beyond downtown is a vast jungle of gleaming neon called hope, which is waiting to burst into flames. Like moths savouring the light, our people silently yearn for the glow of progress and development to wash away their suffering and neglect.
Every morning you find them on the beach looking to the horizon, hoping to spot a sign of the tsunami. Yet whenever the waves get to shore, they retreat in a hurry. In their wake they leave behind indignation and regret and silent revolt.
Beyond downtown is a street of youthful exuberance consumed by hopelessness, where the hand of authority does harm and green pastures turn into fields of dust. City people forced to live backwards in a lifestyle far from the civilisation that sprouts menacingly and surrounds them like a fortress.
Beyond downtown is a world where the legacy of our forefathers reigns supreme. It’s a place of refuge where we rest to quench our thirst. It is from there we draw the strength to face another tomorrow.
Beyond downtown a generation is beckoning for the return of their birthright stolen with an axe and some salt.
In our traditional huts and long houses we become kings of men with the ability to ignite a revolution to change the direction of the wind.
Beyond downtown is what is truly Papua New Guinea.