THE Enga Writers Association was established at a meeting last Tuesday with an initial membership of eight people who also form the core of the first interim executive.
There are no titles but members are expected co-ordinate their activities as volunteers.
This is just the beginning and more work will be done to register the association and provide it with permanent executive members.
Any person who contributes a poem, short story, essay or book is an automatic member of the Enga Writers Association.
The pioneering members are Akii Tumu, Mark Sakol, Leo Maso, Ruth Minape, John Kawi, Johannes Kundal, Robert Pyaru and Daniel Kumbon.
Akii Tumu is the Director of the Enga Cultural Centre. He had been involved in writing several books on Enga culture with Professor Polly Weisner of the University of Utah, the major work being Historical Vines, published by the Smithsonian Institution.
Mark Sakol, a former high school teacher and principal of Wabag Primary School, is working on three books, one of which is his own biography. Mark’s manuscripts are being looked at by Dr Steven Winduo of the University of Papua New Guinea and selected friends. Originally from Madang, he has taught at many schools in Enga Province.
Ruth Minape and Leo Maso are two high school teachers currently working at the Enga Cultural Centre. They will teach cultural education in Enga schools.
John Kawi is a senior teacher at Wabag Primary School who, together with his principal Mark Sakol, is encouraging staff and students to write poems, essays, short stories, legends and other literature. They hope to publish an anthology like Ku High School in Simbu in 2015.
Johannes Kundal has been writing his own autobiography starting from the time of the legendary Huli and Opone brothers who fathered the people who now live in Huli and Enga provinces. Daniel Kumbon is helping him as mentor and editor. Extracts of Johannes’ work have begun to appear in PNG Attitude. Mr Kundal works as Director of Public Health in the Enga Provincial Health Authority
Robert Pyaru is deputy headmaster and language and literature teacher at the new Mulitaka High School in Laiagam District. He hopes to get his students to write and publish an anthology.
Daniel Kumbon is interim chairman of the Association. He published Remember Me and other stories from Enga Province in 2015 and I Can See My Country Clearly Now this year. He is now working on Johannes Kundal’s autobiography and also a collection of poems, cultural essays, satirical poems and first impression pieces on Enga Province. Daniel ran the first Enga Writers Association in the 1980s and 1990s.
Two of the main objectives of the Association are to encourage everybody who is able to read and write to become involved in the development of literature to sharpen their minds and encourage the younger generation to read and write.
Daniel Kumbon introduced the PNG Attitude blog and the Crocodile Prize to members, asking them to spread the word that people can make money with their essays, short stories and poems if they enter the annual competition. Nobody among the new members knew about the existence of the Crocodile Prize.
Another objective is to get all students in tertiary institutions, high schools, secondary schools and upper primary schools to read and write. The committee feels that students in Enga schools can do well in maths, science and other subjects but not English.
The committee strongly feels that, if students can be encouraged to read and write a lot, their English scores will improve in the Grade 8, Grade 10 and Grade 12 national examinations.
Although, the interim committee members did not talk about providing incentives for people who wish to write, senior Telikom PNG executive, Corney Korakan Alone, also from Enga, told Mr Kumbon that he will sponsor the essay category if we will run a competition like the Crocodile Prize.
“Keep up with the excellent work you're doing,” Corney said. “We're impressed with your effort and firm beliefs.
"Why Tribal Warfare is Bad for Enga would make an interesting essay and debating topic in all our schools back home if the writers association can drive that.
“Being based in Port Moresby, we don't have much flexibility to engage fully with the education of our youngsters back at home,” Corney said.
“However playing a small part as a small sponsor, I am sure we can not only positively influence the thinking of some of our people but inspire some of our people to re-think, re-imagine and place common good ahead of the wasteful thinking on tribalism's immediate short term gains.”
This is an encouraging offer that members will talk about at our next meeting at which time we will invite the Provincial Administrator or Director Education to distribute the Crocodile Prize Anthology and Trickery at the Crocodile Pool – the children’s book sponsored by The Paga Hill Development Company - to selected schools.