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Simbu’s Crocodile Prize: From wild dream to reality

_Simbu Writers AssociationFRANCIS NII

THE first day of the two-day 2015 Crocodile Prize award ceremony in Kundiawa, Simbu Province, kicked off at 9 o’clock on Friday under the organisation of the Simbu Writers Association (SWA).

The scene was the Riverside Resort at Wara (River) Simbu; celebrations continued to the foot of PNG’s highest peak, Mt Wilhelm; and they concluded with the literary awards presentation at Mt Wilhelm Tourist Hotel last night.

A decent number of people turned up at Friday’s writers’ workshop chaired by Mathias Kin, mostly young writers and students.

Established writers Bob Cleland, Baka Bina, Arnold Mundua, Daniel Kombon and Joycelyn Leahy gave motivational talks which were very well received.

Among the high school teachers at the workshop were Ware Mukale of Kariweri High School, a strong supporter of SWA.

Another participant was academic Bernard Yegiora of Divine Word University.

After lunch at 2 o’clock, the visitors were taken on a panoramic tour of the mountainous and rugged country around the township of Gembogl.

There was also a session which focused on the management of the Crocodile Prize for 2016 and beyond as arrangements are made to take over the administration from Keith Jackson and Philip Fitzpatrick.

The weekend activities were capped off last night with the presentation of awards and gifts and a number of book launches – a true sign of how far Papua New Guinean writers have come in the last five years.

One of the books launched was the Simbu high and secondary schools’ 2015 anthology, a culmination of SWA’s Simbu for Literary Excellence program for schools.

Minister for Education and MP for Gumine, Hon Nick Kuman, was the guest speaker and other prominent people present included Governor Noah Kool, Provincial Administrator Joe Kundar Naur MBE, Principal Advisor Education Essy Walkaima MBE, the Manager of Bank South Pacific.

The organisation of the annual Crocodile Prize awards event was a considerable feat for the Simbu Writers’ Association as it had never seriously anticipated that hosting the award would actually happen in Kundiawa. It seemed like peppy talk and a wild dream and but it became a reality.

On 6 May 2014 a group of like-minded people with a common interest in literature got together at Mt Wilhelm Tourist Hotel and formed the Simbu Writers Association.

As it was the first gathering, the group had no finance, no constitution and none of the many other requirements that attach themselves to an organised body.

Nevertheless, the idea of Simbus hosting the 2015 Crocodile Prize awards was broached at that very first meeting. Those present liked the idea although no one was sure how it might happen given that the association was merely an infant. Most people treated the idea as a wild dream.

But at subsequent formal and informal gatherings, people kept discussing it and, the more they talked, the more the determination and fire burned in them to turn the dream into reality.

Interest kept growing until it culminated in the official announcement at the September 2014 awards ceremony hosted by the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby. And now the event has happened right here in Kundiawa.

In retrospect, we can now examine what was SWA’s strength for success and what enabled it to create the event from nothing.

Prior to the first Crocodile Prize award ceremony hosted by the High Commission in September 2011 when our good friend Ian Kemish was the High Commissioner, Keith Jackson and Phil Fitzpatrick invitated Jimmy Drekore and me to make a presentation on ways to promote Crocodile Prize in PNG’s highlands provinces.

When Jimmy’s turn came to talk, he offered a PowerPoint presentation on the Simbu Children Foundation (SCF). He did not mention a single word about writing.

Sitting right at the back in my battered wheelchair I could see reflections of indigestion on the faces of participants.

So, when Jimmy had finished talking, the obvious question came from Phil. He asked: “What has Simbu Children Foundation got to do with writing?”

“Francis will answer your question in his presentation,” Jimmy answered. I have never forgotten that question – or the answer.

After question time, I also made a PowerPoint presentation. I graphically plotted the advocacy and promotion of the Crocodile Prize in Simbu linking with the network and platform established by SCF, thereby answering Phil’s question.

Today SWA is leaping and jumping in its aspirations as it rides on SCF’s vast experience and solid platform.

Very importantly the key people in SWA are the same human beings who run SCF and, with the strong support of likeminded people, SWA has been made a success story.

S o a big tribute and thank you to Simbu Children Foundation.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Mathias Kin

There many things we picked up during the two days. Certainly SWA did learn some. We will work on these.

Daniel Doyle

Congratulations to all involved. The 2016 organisers should capitalise on Dr Kombra's knowledge of this literary initiative. Dr Kombra is a good man more than capable of 'thinking outside the box' and seeing the outcomes that have resulted from the Crocodile prize, SWA and Pukpuk Publications etc as ideal material for the high/secondary school curriculum.

Jimmy Drekore

SWA setting records:

1. Flying in winners and accommodating them for 3 days.

2. Hosted 2 days event.

3. Education Minister had his boarding pass only to be called back by prime minister hence Education Secretary stepping in.

Michael Dom

Well done SWA!


Jimmy Awagl

Your hospitality is our prime concern and you have what we have for you.
You presence here in Simbu made the difference to define what Crocodile Prize meant for other guests and fans.

We applaud your grattitude for those of you were present those days on the 17-20th Sept.

We are looking for ward to 2016 down in Madang (DWU)

Phil Fitzpatrick

Hopefully the Education Secretary and the Simbu Provincial Administrator took back good impressions to their bosses Sil.

I think Confucius once said that politicians (emperors) are invariably capricious but don't despair, it's their lackeys (mandarins) that hold the real power anyway.

Be interesting to hear what the Bishop thought.

The vibes I'm getting is that it all went off well and has set a benchmark for the 2016 organisers to emulate.

Incidentally, has that been decided yet? Some one mentioned Madang?

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

The politicians as usual never turned up. The Governor and the Education Minister were notably absent but their proxies, the Education Secretary and the Simbu Provincial Administrator, attended and blended well with the writers and the occasion.

The most senior man in the province, the Bishop, came very early and sat all through and was attentive all through, even coping with some very long speeches.

Thank you, Bishop.

Congratulations to the Simbu Writers Association for hosting a successful event.

Samantha D Kusari

It was great meeting you all. Had a great time as well. Thank you Simbu.

Hazel Kutkue

The entire trip was amazing for me. And I am very thankful that SWA had decided to host the award presentation in Chimbu province.

It was all a very great experience for me.

The trip to the foot of Mt Whilhelm was the highlight of my entire trip.

Visiting the children in the home for the disadvantaged and orphaned children was an experience in itself. It is one more of the examples of the need for people to help the disadvantaged in PNG.

As a medical student, I have seen first hand the other disadvantaged people like those children in the hospital when I am there for class or just to take a patient history for an assignment or so. Their stories about their lives can be the subject of a thousand books.

Thank you Mr Drekore, Mr Nii, Mr Mundua, Mr Awagl and all the other members of SWA for a wonderful experience.

mathias kin

Surely we all had a great night. This morning our team of me, Mr and Mrs Drekore and Mr Bob Cleland had an emotional good bye at the Kagamuga airport. He says had a really great time the last few days.

Thank you all you great people from across PNG and Australia for coming to Kundiawa. Most of the school heads from Simbu schools with their winning students from the recent writing competition also attended making the evening very special.

We all look forward to the next crocodile prize event in Madang in 2016.


Lapieh Landu

Heard it was quite a trip. Beautiful place, beautiful people, beautiful culture. Great stuff! And thank you for my beautiful trophy. Long awaited! All worth the wait though!

Congratulations to everyone who won and to the amazing team behind the anthology, well done!

Busa Jeremiah Wenogo

Francis, Jimmy et al, I am glad that all went well with the croc prize award in Simbu. I take my hat off to you guys. Well done.

Bomai D Witne

Yalkuna Nii and team. Your tireless effort and immeasurable commitment to promote literacy in Simbu and taking the Crocodile to the highlands and bringing writers and audience from close and far to see the Crocodile roar at Mt Wilhelm Hotel was an occasion most of us will remember. I am still contemplating on your statement, 'the Crocodile must find a home'. Thumbs up to SWA. Wakai wo.

Dominica Are

An epic event worth remembering. Great , motivating speeches by the various speakers and I was grateful to meet some great writers ( authors).
Thank You SWA and those behind the scene for a successful event.

Bernard Yegiora

Thank you all for a memorable weekend.

Arnold  Mundua

We have just returned after taking Bob Clealand out for a sightseeing around Kundiawa and dropped him off at the hotel; first, Gaima along Guimine road and after lund to the Dinga country (J Drekore's area). To all our guests we hope you enjoyed your stay with us here in Kundiawa and returned home safely. Lukim yupla sampla taim gen.

Daniel Ipan Kumbon

It's 4pm and I'm reading this from Wabag. I hope everybody made it safely to their homes.

Yes indeed Francis, it was great. You guys at SWA are awesome. Your leaders are supportive.

Cheers and thank you SWA.

Phil Fitzpatrick

Congratulations guys (and gals)!

I think you've created a bit of history here.

Look forward to some more summaries and a batch of photographs.

Make sure you save it all for the exhibit in the Simbu Museum.

Philip G Kaupa

I on behalf of the winners of Croc Prize 2015, would like to say thank you to the team SWA, you rock!

The awards event they organised was truly amazing. For me as a Simbu man it is special and memorable to receive the Poetry award in front of all my leaders and family and I was really blessed.

Thank you Francis and your powerful crew.

Francis Nii

The Minister did not make IT but the Secretary, Dr Uke Kombra, represented the Department and the Minister.

`Robin Lillicrapp

Great summation, Francis. Congratulations to all involved: a vision realised, a pattern established.

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