WE were nearing the end of the event (graciously funded by Paga Hill Estate) that marked the launch of the book, My Walk to Equality, in Port Moresby early in March.
A group of us were standing around having a last drink and finalising a robust discussion on the prospects of establishing a viable indigenous literature in Papua New Guinea.
“Anyway,” I remarked to Baka Bina,” if ever you need a hand just give me a yell.”
Whereupon Baka emitted an ear-shattering and protracted Eastern Highlands whoop that rattled the high ceilings of the elegant Stanley Hotel, toppled glasses off tables and had colleagues ducking for cover.
It was quite a yell.
Baka, one of PNG’s most prolific contemporary authors and as proud a man as you would ever meet, has not directly sought help but the other day – while checking my emails in the Belgian city of Antwerp – I came across a list of some of his books and thought, “Now these guys need some publicity.”
So here goes (if you wish to buy any of the books there is a link to Amazon and the author at the end of each description).
Antics of Alonaa Vol 1 by Baka Barakove Bina, illustrated by Eddie Kanaupa, 178 pages, ISBN-10 149975213X, anthology of stories with bonus lyrics of the traditional ballad Ghulo Sipaki from the Tokano area of Iufi-Iufa in the Eastern Highlands
An old man recounts the heydays of his warrior life including an episode where he fires an arrow at a, what he thought was a huge bumble bee which turned out to be a Japanese Zero fighter plane.
When you go to a foreign school, you mention simple things. Like, your parents know a pit latrine is toilet but at the American mission school they don't have toilets, they have bathrooms and they look nothing like pit latrines.
Your sister’s share of the booty from the hunt is the round head of a bird. Can she get a morsel of that capable of being eaten? Boys can be mean. And you tease an old man who you think is past it and nearly get an arrow in the head for your trouble.
This is a collection of six stories of what children, especially young boys, do in a Papua New Guinean rural village. They have to initiate their own fun in and around the grasslands, river banks and villages. Good days. Memorable days.
A story set in the highlands of Papua New Guinea where people are coming to terms with new technology, concepts and language. Two men exchange harsh words and punches after a drinking binge and an innocent man's reputation is brought into disrepute.
The people from a neighbouring village make a fire for the two drunks to kill off and repair the reputation of the innocent man. The two men don't have the money to kill off the fire and it is the women who have to pool their money to kill do it and placate the neighbouring villagers.
Later the village proceeds with its own dispute settlement issues and a 'het pei' ceremony is arranged by the wife of one of the drunks who feels bad her husband was the one who brought the reputation of the innocent man into disrepute.
One of the drunks would call himself a man of calibre but perhaps the innocent person was the real man of calibre.
A contemporary story based on the ever changing scene in a rapidly developing Papua New Guinea. It is based on a family tragedy where a mother contracts HIV/AIDS and her dying concern is about a child she gave away immediately after birth to hide her infidelity. She had a relationship with a European but the baby was jet black.
On her deathbed, she tasks another mixed race daughter, now grown up, to find the black one. It can cause trouble for her in the milieu of urban Port Moresby. But she has to find that girl with only a name to go by.
Know why children are girls only. You could be living under the curse of the Lamisi. The author interweaves a local legend and to explain why an older man is still a bachelor boy. The twist to this story is to explain why a growing number of families have a large number of girl children.
Lamisi is an evergreen shrubby tree that bears red flowers, however the young shoots of the flower start out being pinkish. Birdwing butterflies deposit their eggs on the leaves which have a bitter taste, so butterfly larvae and pupa grow without too much disturbance from birds. When the flowers bloom, it is a sight to see.
A great number of girls in the Goroka valley are named Lamiso or a girl is termed a Lamisi flower to note she is the beautiful one.
This is a story on the effects of smoking marijuana and consuming other drugs in Papua New Guinea. In the tropics, the land is lush. Marijuana plants grow profusely wherever the seeds are scattered, so they are readily available.
What the smokers don't have is knowledge on the harm that smoking marijuana. Children are vulnerable as they copy from the adults. In rural areas of PNG, they have little choice of role models.
I hope this book can be used in schools to stop young children from smoking cigarettes and marijuana.