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Through time & space – books going places authors only dream of

Herman-tambagleBOMAI D WITNE

On 18 and 19 September, a group of Papua New Guineans and individuals with strong connections to Papua New Guinea gathered in Kundiawa for the annual national literary awards event.

Most of these people had never met, however when we introduced ourselves we smiled and shook hands or hugged in the Simbu way.

These people were teachers, students and private and public sector employees who love the art of writing. There were also a few who had resigned from formal work to engage in community-oriented activities.

They write essays, short stories, poems and draw cartoons. They contribute their writing to PNG Attitude where most articles enter the annual Crocodile Prize contest, truly Papua New Guinea’s biggest literary event.

The strength of the literary contest lies in the selfless spirit of voluntarism and the immeasurable generosity of many individuals, families and sponsors. This is a feat in itself that inspires writers more than the ultimate prize they write for.

While the writers feel there is need for more reading and writing, they also realise the need to establish, nourish and grow the idea of voluntarism, giving a little bit of time and resource to promote a cause one believes in for the benefit of the community.

The members of the Simbu Writers Association - Herman Tambagle, Jimmy Drekore, Francis Nii, Jimmy Awagl and Mathias Kin – have set the bar high for voluntary community service.

They drive and walk the length and breadth of Simbu and voluntarily partner with high schools and secondary schools to spread the gospel of literature.

They host the annual Simbu schools literary competition, produce anthologies and have hosted the national Crocodile Prize awards.

Apart from the writers, the gathering attracted National Department of Education Secretary, Dr Kombra, Simbu Provincial Administrator and 2015 Prime Minister’s Award winner Joe Naur Kunda, Simbu Provincial Education advisor Essy Walkaima, the Bishop of Kundiawa Anton Bal as well as principals, staff and students from schools and community members.

When the patron of the Simbu Writers Association, Herman Tambagle (pictured), was asked to open the event with a prayer and make his speech, he did not waste time in acknowledging God for he gives inspiration and wisdom to produce the written word.

Herman prayed: “Human memory is too short to capture everything therefore to compensate this some things must be recorded in writing.

“Commandments to Moses were written so that whatever is written remains written. The writer gathered tonight follow this legacy. We are here to celebrate the life of writers. Highest our mountain, highest our destiny.”

Herman welcomed sponsors, awardees, guests and audience to the gathering, which took place three days after PNG celebrated 40 years of independence. He also asked the question, “We have travelled 40 years and are beginning to cross over now. Where can we go?”

There are many answers to this question but, according to Herman, writers play an important role in documenting through time and space so everyone travels on the same wavelength. It was the writers that changed the course of thought in history and continue to do that in the present era.

Herman said he had been inspired by some writers and started writing himself. His first book, Writing is on the wall, was an account of his observation and experiences and the deeper call to read signs and improve situations.

He is now working on a book on corruption and two others on Christian principles. He paid tribute to Simbu writers, the late Ignatius Kilage and Benjamin Umba.

“The power and the truth of writing is that whatever is written stays written for successive generations to read and learn,” Herman said.

Writing can change people in positive and negative ways. The writers have this power. This was the reason why people say “the pen is mightier than the sword.”

Write when you are at peace with yourself and never force yourself to write, he said.

Herman concluded his speech by saying that an author occupies a privileged position in society because the books will go to places the authors may only dream of visiting. The books you write will visit the bedrooms of kings, queens, prime ministers, military commanders and the presidents. 


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Dominica Are

Mr Witne, that was a great account of the night's main event. I was inspired by the various speeches and will always take Mr Tambagle's words with me ' We have a shorter life span, our writings will live on'.

Arnold  Mundua

Good story, angra Bomai. I apologise to participants who took part in the Gembogl trip for not accompanying them.

Seriously, I was attacked by gouty arthritis during the entire Croc Prize award weekend. My apology again but I hope you all enjoyed the trip up north.

Francis Nii

Yal Kuna, there were many more things about the event to write about. Thank you for this story. Can someone write about the trip to Gembogl and Mother of Life Centre.

Daniel Ipan Kumbon

I believed Herman Tambagle, SWA patron, when he said 'what's written stays written'. I saw that Mr Tambagle, Provincial Administrator Joe Naur Kunda and Education Secretary Dr Kondra were wise men.

I guess each individual has a different gift, and God gave writers the gift to record history down.

Bomai, what we write, whether its a news article, poem, traditional salt making process will stay written. These are all draft copies of our history - the stuff which gives PNG its identity and recognition in the world.

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