PAPUA New Guinea will benefit from a privately-funded initiative by PNG Attitude to develop writers associations throughout the country.
A program of annual fellowships has been started to provide the basic management skills required to establish and maintain writers associations at a provincial level.
The McKinnon-Paga Hill Fellowship has been funded by separate gifts from PNG’s pre-independence director of education, Prof Ken McKinnon AO (pictured), and the Paga Hill Development Company.
The first three McKinnon-Paga Hill fellows have been identified and accepted their awards.
They are established authors Daniel Kumbon and Leonard Fong Roka, who have received full fellowships, and Francis Nii, who has received a part fellowship.
“This is great news. I formed an interim committee a couple of days ago and this encourages me more,” said Daniel Kumbon from Wabag. “I will devote my time to move literary development in Enga.”
Speaking from Kundiawa, administrator of the pioneering Simbu Writers Association Francis Nii said “what a joy for me this moment. I am so happy.”
And at Panguna in Bougainville Leonard Roka told me: “I should have been the first to champion a writers association for Bougainville but the loss of my daughter was a setback for me and my dreams, and still I am slowly accepting it.”
Stanley Liria, director of Paga Hill Development Company, said “it’s an incredible opportunity to strengthen skills and learn from organisations in PNG and abroad.
“As an author myself, I’m very pleased that Paga Hill Development Company can support this wonderful initiative.”
“We’re pleased to support yet another amazing opportunity in enabling PNG writers to strengthen their capacity and develop managerial skills in order to establish and maintain provincial writers associations,” said Gudmundur ‘Gummi’ Fridriksson, CEO of the Paga Hill Development Company.
The three fellows will travel to Australia in early September to participate in an organisation-building workshop, which I will lead, and then attend the Brisbane Writers Festival which is seeking to establish a special link with writers in Papua New Guinea.
Daniel Kumbon and Leonard Roka will then visit Sydney for meetings with writers’ organisations, literary media and academics, and friends of Papua New Guinea.
Francis Nii has been a driving force behind, the Simbu Writers Association, which is a model for the establishment of similar associations in PNG. He will travel to Australia to assist me facilitate the workshop and also attend the Brisbane Writers Festival.
Francis is an accomplished author and he is looking forward to launching a new collection of his poetry while in Australia.
Daniel Kumbon has begun to revive the long dormant Enga Writers Association. His second book, I can see my country clearly now, has just been published and he hopes he can join Francis in launching this in Australia.
Leonard Roka is the author of five books including Brokenville, which was the first Crocodile Prize Book of the Year. His family experienced great tragedy during the Bougainville civil war and, just last year, he and his wife lost their two-year old daughter. It is expected that Leonard will establish a Bougainville Writers Association.
When the study tour is complete, both Daniel and Leonard will be mentored as they go about the task of establishing and building writing organisations in their home provinces.
It is intended to provide fellowships for two or three people each year as PNG Attitude pursues a goal of building a sustainable literary culture in Papua New Guinea.
Readers who wish to support this project can do so by transferring funds to the following bank account:
Keith Jackson (PNG Attitude)
NAB North Sydney
BSB 082 401
A/c number 39 286 5774