Writing: a personal walk reinforced by coming together
The legend of the origin of the Bulolo people

Book of the year winner seeks emergence of “crocodile pride”

Winner - Baka BinaKEITH JACKSON

AUTHOR Baka Bina, winner of the Ok Tedi Mining Book of the Year for 2015, believes in sharing the credit.

Man of Calibre was a collaborative effort between Ed Brumby, my wife Emily Bina and our children, especially Tshasha and Linda, to get the story to fruition in book form.  The kudos of the Crocodile Prize is for all of us and we share that gleefully amongst us,” he said.

Baka said that, for him, his first book Sweet Garaiina Apo had been the tough one. “It was first put to pen in 2003 and a lot of time was spent rewriting and crying over it. Personally it was the roller coaster one for emotions.

Man of Calibre? Well who do you think wants to read about a village boasting about its conman?”

Baka let us into some of the challenges and trials of the writing process.

He admitted that writing 60,000 words was not easy. “Listening to the misis repeat the same oral history over and over was not amusing and trying to write a scene seemed insurmountable to say the least.

Ed_Brumby“The cut, edit, cut, edit by Ed Brumby (pictured) - someone I met only on email - was the killer you couldn’t kill.

“And well, what do you do with children who read a part of what you have written and don’t like it and tell you in the straightest of words that you are thick. What do you do? Get a four by two and go after them.”

Baka said the award is reassuring because “it means that somebody is willing to read what a person writes and likes reading what the author wrote.

“There is still more out there to be written and that is what winning the Crocodile Prize is going to do for us - get us to write more.”

“We have in our pile of manuscripts some that were started 20 years ago and will never see the light of day.  We have some that were rejected outright by one publisher and are still sitting on our shelves wondering why this book is so bad publishers don’t like it.

“We have a page so good that our children rolled on their stomach laughing and crying but the rest were good only for the round basket in the kona.  Writing is not easy and we see bits in this book that could have been better but now it’s done so we have to live with it.”

A wise man is Baka Bina.

“We cannot write a perfect book, inglis ino tokples bilong mipela, but, if you have to write, write and get help when you have a quantity of material.  Don’t seek help when you have not started to write.  The advice you get will stop you in your tracks.

“There is a lot to write about in PNG and there are some good writers we have admired in PNG Attitude.  Writers like Joycelin Leahy and Maureen Potoura should move from writing short stories to novelettes and novels and get them published.”

Baka believes the model established by the Simbu Writers Association should be replicated nationwide in every province.

“We need a bigger thing than the Crocodile Prize. Literature can only grow if the people show they want to read books written by locals and there is a concerted effort by students, teachers, schools, the education department and the government to ensure that this is so.

“We hope that as Crocodile Prize grows so will the Crocodile Pride grace the podiums and embrace the nation and the governments that be.”

Baka said he salutes the sponsor of Book of the Year, Ok Tedi Mining, and hopes it will persevere through its present commercial troubles.

“The closure of the mine means that this award may not have a sponsor next year. We hope Ok Tedi doesn’t show the Crocodile Prize the ‘closed for business’ sign.  We hope there are people who can allow this legacy to continue.”

He is a long-time resident of the capital city, but Baka still feels close to his heritage. “We pride ourselves as Yuhu-yuhos from Kotiyufa village near Goroka who have been living in Port Moresby for the last 20 years.”

Man of CalibreBaka and Emily were born and raised in villages three kilometres apart that had different languages. Their six children have gone their own ways - ol pikinini les long mipela na ol lus lain nambaut  – and “we squat at the end of the street in over at Paga Hill on Armit Street with over six starving mongrels.”

Baka says that his Australian writing buddy, Ed Brumby, lives in an internet cable at the email end of the computer.

“Most of our stories involve our village people and names they want us to write about so they live long in the annals of literature,” Baka concluded. “They want to be immortalised.

“Being absent from the village, we can write about things that happened 20 years ago.  We know that the village is no longer the village we left and the things children and people do for fun nowadays is totally alien to what we did then.

“In our books we try to capture this and tell the children what they have missed.”


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Nicky Daniel


Linda, my friend used to call you MR B and told me stories about your writings. I heard something great was coming from this hard work and here it is.

Congratulations again.

John Kaupa Kamasua

Sent my congrats to Baka via email...but a great achievement!

Ron Kone

Proud of you Baka. Congrats

Ed Brumby

Baka, typically, gives me far too much credit. The kudos for 'Man of Calibre' belongs entirely to Baka and Emily. I am enormously proud of both of them and grateful for their friendship.

`Robin Lillicrapp

congratulations, Baka.

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