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A chicken and loose change for reconciliation


An entry in the 2015 Rivers Award
for Writing on Peace & Harmony

This tale is not based on real people or events but explains how tertiary student associations settle disputes and bring peace to conflicting members

I was forking a half-eaten fried sausage on my mostly empty plate, thinking about an unfinished post-colonial literature assignment, when someone brushed past me and took the chair at the other end of the dining table.

I looked up and was greeted with a smile. It was Mack, a good friend, originally from the Karawari River basin, one of the tributaries of the Sepik River.

“Ah, yes, bro. I’m about to finish my lunch na yu kam kamap,” I quipped.

“No worries bro, I had to deal with a situation in the dorm and didn’t notice of the time,” he explained. “But at least I made it before closing time. Mi kisim taim, hangere kilim mi stret.”

He attacked his food hungrily.

“Lucky for you. Usually the cook and his assistants close early and disappear to the back. Otherwise you would have missed out on a wonderful lunch,” I said, swallowing the half-eaten sausage.

I looked around the dining hall and saw it was mostly empty. There were just a few huddled groups busy with their own conversations and three lone diners heads down doing some assignments.

I shuffled my feet on the tiled floor, remembering guiltily the assignment I was yet to complete and getting ready to leave.

“Hey bro, before you leave, please, I would ask a favour from you if you don’t mind,” Mack stammered.

“A favour? Bro, I hope you’re not in some deep shit that I can’t help you with?”

“Bro, aste long fundraising dance blo ol Morobe Students Association, wanpla boy blo mipla lo Sepik wantem wanpla boi Morobe tupla fait, olsem na mipla bai stretim disla hevi nau lo avinun.”

“I’d come late because the president of the Sepik Students Association called a meeting between the brawler and myself for us to sort the problem ASAP,” he continued.

“So I desperately need your assistance if you could organise your members to contribute any loose change they might have, 10 toea o 20 toea em orait tasol.”

I let some seconds pass while I thought about the predicament and the request.

“Em orait, I’ll organise some of my association students to do a quick coin-a-thon from our members within the hour. Whatever we come up with, I’ll bring to your room,” I said.

“But it doesn’t mean we’ll continue to assist. You must talk to your boys to exercise self-control and restraint.”

“Yu save, pasin blo dring spak save kamapim planti hevi, fait, dai, bagarap, em ino nupla samting,” I remarked as an afterthought.

Tenkyu bro for your words. Yu save het blo ol man em strong ya, hat lo todok..hahaha..Okay bro, I’ll have to organise my Sepik group members as well,” he replied gratefully.

“Have you decided on the location?” I enquired as we got up from our seats.

“Yes, we have,” he replied.

“Okay, good, we’ll look forward to the gathering.”

With this said, we exited the dining hall and I went to look for my group to request their help.

The thought of my incomplete literature assignment made me weary but I decided the afternoon’s reconciliation activity was worth it.

Within an hour, after contributions from student members who willingly parted with 10 toea, 20 toea, 50 toea and kina loose change, my student association was able to assist the East Sepik students to reconcile and make peace with their brothers from Morobe.

As is customary in resolving student disputes and reconciling at the University of Goroka, student leaders from both groups give a brief speech, then the brawling students will apologise for their action and exchange a live chicken each, with K20 cash or more.

Then they shake hands and hug; and the reconciliation is complete.

Those who have gathered to witness the event shake hands with them and amongst themselves, share a joke or two and everyone disperses to their accommodation to decide how to cook the chicken and spend the K20.


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