PAPUA New Guinea may not be a failed state but the State has consistently failed its people.
We are still surviving but how can we thrive? We are responsible for the state we are in.
“Customary land tenure and the subsistence economy cushion’s the majority of the population against poor monetary or fiscal policy or global economic downturns.”
This is one of PNG’s strengths – the fundamental independence of the vast majority of rural farming households. We can still grow much of our own food and provide shelter for our families.
However, this is also a weakness when rural farming households are dependent on the State for essential services such as health, education, transport infrastructure, access to markets and finance facilities for small to medium enterprises.
Urban households are also disempowered when there is a lack of growth in the domestic economy, fewer jobs, less reinvestment into small business and little means for the majority of working class to improve their lot in life.
The State disempowers its people from becoming prosperous therefore even those with the capacity to thrive continue to survive and subsist along with the majority of people who live in remote outposts.
Great opportunity rests in enhancing the development of agricultural production.
A major threat is that individual farmers and farming communities may continue to try to act alone and not band together to foster collective actions within their value chains, for their mutual benefit.
“Papua New Guineans are good at making individual efforts for the collective good. We need to re-ignite our passion and purposely take this personal journey.”
Yes. Grow the grass roots circle of influence and within that sphere a leadership group will emerge because those will be the individuals who consistently act to return the benefits to the collective.
“The changes Papua New Guineans want to see in their lives and communities will come when people act based on what they can do rather than dwell on what they’ve been told they cannot do.”
What we can do is limited only by our imaginations. That’s dependent on individuals.
Next we need to gather the required intelligence. That’s dependent on the collective.
Then we must encourage the desire to succeed. That needs a mutually beneficial goal.
Then we need a smart action plan. That requires cooperation.
But to direct our actions and implement the plan we need good leadership.
Some argue that democracy is a dead horse and that rather we have an autocracy bordering on dictatorship.
But assuredly this latter kind of rule was not a recognisable aspect of PNG’s past Melanesian societies. To the best knowledge of knowledge our societies were egalitarian, independent households, interdependent tribes and clans, mostly hierarchical albeit politically less organised.
We however live in ‘a hybrid of tradition and modernity’.
Interdependence was a characteristic of our ancestor’s tribal life. Why should it be impossible to achieve in our neo-tribal life?
For democracy to flourish in Papua New Guinea we must transcend independence to interdependence.
The State may have failed its people, but do the people also fail their State?