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Crocodile Prize must have a permanent home in PNG


LOOKING back at the recent Simbu Writers’ Association’s successful hosting of the 2015 Crocodile Prize awards in Kundiawa and the previous unsuccessful Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers experience of 2012, I strongly feel that the Crocodile Prize should have a permanent home where it can generate its own revenue to sustain itself in the long run.

Author and publisher Phil Fitzpatrick in a comment on my earlier article, remarked that the SWA made history by not only hosting the awards but for the first time paying the return air fares and hotel accommodation of the winners.

Well done Arnold Mundua, Jimmy Awagl, Mathias Kin, Jimmy Drekore, Roslyn Tony, family members and stakeholders.

You made writers, sponsors, friends, the Simbu Administration, teachers, students and the people of Simbu proud. I know that Keith Jackson and Phil Fitzpatrick, the founders of the Crocodile Prize, are proud too.

Your sweat and personal sacrifice has paid off. I salute you all.

Praise also goes to the MP for Gumine and Minister for Education, Hon Nick Kuman, and his Secretary, Dr Uke Kombra, as well as the MP for Sinasina-Yongomugl, Hon Kerenga Kua, and MP for Alotau and Minister for Planning, Hon Charles Abel, for their financial support without which the event would not have happened.

On the same note, a big thumbs up to Baka Bina and his committee of volunteers who will take charge of the administration and hosting of the Crocodile Prize awards ceremony in 2016.

The committee members are Jocelyn Leahy (Australia), Bernard Yegiora (Divine Word University, Madang), Bomai Witne (University of Goroka), Daniel Kumbon (Wabag, Enga Province) and Rev James Mai (Chuave District, Simbu Province).

We congratulate Baka and his committee members for the courage and boldness they have shown in putting their hands up. We wish you and your team all the best.

Unlike the SWA team, which is based in one location, the new team members are scattered and will be relying heavily on cyber technology for conducting meetings and organising Crocodile Prize activities.

The world is heading in that direction and Keith and Phil have successfully administered the Crocodile Prize using the internet. Baka’s team will make it.

However, looking back at the Society of Writers, Editors & Publishers (SWEP) experience, which was discussed at length by the meeting in Kundiawa, and comparing it with the SWA story, one significant difference is worth noting.

It is that the SWA team, based in one location, met face to face on an average of four days a week to conduct SWA and Crocodile Prize business while the SWEP executives were scattered.

SWEP could have killed the Beast had it not been for a quick emergency rescue intervention by Keith and Phil. A lot of personal sacrifices were made behind the scene to save the Crocodile Prize which we did know about at the time.

We also had an incident in 2013 where Steamships Trading Company withdrew its sponsorship for the short story award in the last month of the competition without giving any reason after providing assurances that the sponsorship was still alive.

That experience taught us a valuable lesson that sponsors are at liberty to pull out at anytime they like with or without good reason.

In the light of these experiences, I feel that the Crocodile Prize should have a permanent home where it can generate its own revenue to sustain itself come sun or rain. It has to establish its base somewhere. I don’t know how that can happen but the idea is now up for discussion.

Your experience, ideas and thoughts can help Baka Bina and his team plot a long term course for the wonderful Beast.


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Francis Nii

As being the main points of discussion at the writer's meeting in Kundiawa and also pointed out by Keith, the hosting of the Crocodile Prize awards ceremony is just one part of the whole literary competition. The other part is seeking and securing sponsorships.

The most technical and time consuming part is editing and publishing the flood of entries.

The Baka-Joycelyn team will be the first all PNG crew who will handle everything of course with the support of Keith and Phil in the transition. This must be their immediate concern.

PNG will have to take ownership of Crocodile Prize and Baka's team will break the ice.

By September 2016, we will know the outcome success or hiccup, nonetheless, the important thing is atleast we have people with genuine hearts voluntered to give it their best.

We the SWA team have yet to do the post mortem on the Simbu for Literary Excellence and Crocodile Prize awards hosting activities for 2015 and plot our course for 2016.

And I felt that it is important to broach the above idea and obtain views from the stakeholders before the above meeting as Crocodile Prize has always remain been part and partial of SWA's provincial literary awareness and promotion.

So thank you all for your comments and ideas.

Baka Bina

Ya Yomba Ee, the SWA is blessed with you, FN and JD. You are an email away and now there is google talk and skype. We'll try to make the 2016 COG be inclusive of all.

Ya Yomba ee, I said three months to put something up for the 2016 COG to work for the rest of the year and we embark on a task that will be full of new things to discover both outside and within ourselves and you have started that. Ya yomba ee.

Baka Bina

Jimmy Awagl, tenk yu. You were wonderful in Kundiawa and you poem rhymes in the recess of my thoughts all day and night still.

We (me and the COG for 2016) take with awe the enormity of hosting the 2016 awards in Madang. I'll enlighten you all on the blunder of saying Madang later. I will introduce the members in due course as soon as we detail ourselves.

I and the 2016 COG take on a task where the bar has been set high by JD and his wonderful team of volunteers from SWA and the blessed non assuming conscripts of volunteers from SCF.

Together they hard yakka'd with the culmination of the 2015 Crocodile Anthology and successful hosting of the awards night.

Members of the same team produced two other anthologies in Simbu and phew...the accolades will not do justice to this team. May they continue with the success of SWA and may we look to further emulate them on the national front.

As Jimmy says the 2016 COG is a scattered team nationwide and we want to run cyber and we need all to have a hand. Joycelyn will set up the website for us next week when smoke returns to her haus kunai. We'll take on from there.

For a start as was mentioned in Kundiawa, SWEP is still an entity that the COG was operating under and bear with us while we sort this out with IPA and other entities.

Those having information and documents or other things pertaining to SWEP can email me on [email protected].

Michael Dom

Small steps.

Phil Fitzpatrick

The SWEP committee did, in fact, meet regularly in 2013, just as SWA met regularly this year. I don't think a disparate and physically separated committee cannot organise a successful event in 2016.

What happened in 2013, in my opinion, was due to a selfish leadership that saw an opportunity to milk the event for their own gain. The word 'plunder' comes to mind.

And it was not just Keith and I who rescued it in that year. Ruth Moiam tried valiantly to keep it afloat and pulled together all the ends that enabled us to publish the anthology that year. Curiously Ruth is another Simbu.

I agree with Keith that a physical home for the competition should not be a priority and it is unnecessary to have a place to hold fund raising events.

What I think might be a good idea is a permanent small overseeing committee (a board of management?) that coordinates organising committees in whatever province is holding the event.

It is that board that I think needs a permanent home. My preference would be Kundiawa. I think Mosbi is too big, too full of carpetbaggers and too prone to cavalier attitudes.

Since it looks like DWU in Madang will be the 2016 venue I would imagine one of the first people to approach will be Peter Barter.

He could be a valuable resource and would understand how such an event can enhance Madang's now tarnished reputation.

Jimmy Awagl

To host such a big event which involves a lot of cost is always challenging.

For the long run of Crocodile Prize it needs a permanent home to raise funds to sustain and it needs an auditorium to host multipurpose activities to raise funds.

With SWA's experience we saw the need to have a permanent home.

I think the last thing the Croc needs is an auditorium of its own. The matter the new committee must immediately turn its attention to is how the 2016 contest will be run. The awards event is the end of a long and complex process. How is that process to be managed? - KJ

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