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We sing our anthem with pride - but what about our daughters



GARY JUFFA | Asia Pacific Report

PORT MORESBY - “O arise all you sons of this land”… here was perhaps one of the problems to progress in Papua New Guinea as we celebrated 42 years of independence yesterday.

Why have we not included the daughters of this land in our national anthem? How have we totally forgotten about them in the most important task of nation building?

Surely they too should rise and build this nation too since it is just as much theirs as it is that of the sons.

Yes that’s correct … our daughters should have the right to rise up for this land and be accorded the dignity and honour of being recognised for their efforts.

I believe we have set a negative psychological platform for Papua New Guinea’s development by excluding a significant segment of the hardest working and most intelligent people in our communities – our womenfolk.

Some will argue they are truly the hardworking segment of our community.

Leadership and nation building should not just be restricted to menfolk. It should be based on someone’s passion, willingness and ability to deliver.

It’s absurd and foolish to exclude the daughters of this land and we do it every time when we stand up and sing our anthem.

Out of a total of 3,332 candidates in PNG’s general election this year, 165 were women — 30 more than in the last election in 2012. None was elected to Parliament.


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Lindsay F Bond

Whose to be 'chairman' if meeting to consider such change? Maybe a woman? Whence a word?

In expectation of being trampled, I venture as per Jakub the majesty of simplicity, of symbolism, yet also of synchronic expression (product of its time).

At the week before Independence Day, the lyric grasped bound hearts, heads and heeding. The grandstanding of chorused consensus is now four decades into the consciousness of citizenry courageously encountering civilization, commercialization and cultural imposts.

Of anthem, Australians have opined and trod torturously yet many opt for 'billa-bonding' or ignominious ending oi oi oi. But what national anthem truly encompasses all its humans with equity?

If for synchronic expression 2017, as encouraged by Governor Gary Juffa, two examples:
'...all children of this land', (bears less impress on manliness),
'...all you born of this land', (brings forth a fundamental, if still poetic).
Yet the magnificence of 1975...

With fondness for hearing PNG voices intoning the lyrics, I feel respect that its import is proclamation, venturesome, not entreaty.

Jakub Majewski

This strikes me as an incredible impoverishing of the meaning of what is, after all, a poetic text, written to be beautiful and expressive, not to be taken literally.

Let's think about the use of such gender-specific terms for a moment. On a regular basis, people use the terms mankind, brotherhood of men. The French even have brotherhood as one of their three republican ideals.

And of course, I'm sure that if we were to look around, we would find many national anthems around the world that refer to men or sons of a given nation, or if they refer to women, they do so in a different way than they do to men.

Nowhere else in the world has this had any psychological impact on women. Nowhere else in the world has this prevented women from participating in politics.

I am absolutely certain that the problems raised by the author above are absolutely false presumptions with no actual connection to the number of women in parliament or any other aspect of female participation in politics.

What is peculiar about this argument is that inherent in it is the assumption that women are somehow incapable of reading a text for its poetic meaning, that they are limited to understanding the literal words - not only could this be seen as sexist, but if anything, it is also contrary to reality.

After all, don't we usually joke about how men take everything literally, and how women are so subtle in their use of words, that men don't get half of it? Those are jokes, but if there is any truth to them, it would certainly indicate that it is men more than women that are likely to struggle to get the broader poetic meaning of "O Arise, All You Sons".

And I think if we look at women or schoolgirls singing the anthem, we'll notice that none of them ever have any qualms about it. They do understand that, in the poetic language of the national anthem, they too, are sons of this land.

If anything needs to be done on this, it would be to put more emphasis in education on the idea of poetry, so as to ensure that everybody is absolutely clear on the idea that words can have more than a literal meaning (though I suspect this is a waste of time - we all understand this practically from the moment we start learning language as toddlers).

The alternative, I fear, would be to lose all appreciation of poetry, and to destroy any such expressions in stiff literal-mindedness. It wouldn't just be the "sons of this land" that would need to change. You'd be removing the reference to "fathers".

Then you'd start asking whether it's truly appropriate and inclusive to talk about God. Even that "mountains to seas" bit could be controversial - after all, if we only shout from the mountains to seas, then we're not shouting in the islands, on the other side of the seas...

And it wouldn't stop there. The flag of PNG is also a poetic expression, but literally, very uninclusive - why the kumul, which only lives in parts of the country? More to the point, why only a male kumul? The irony there, of course, is that the flag, with its male kumul, was designed by a woman.

Please, don't go that way, PNG. Don't despoil the poetic symbols of your nation just to satisfy those few who insist on reading them literally.

Philip Fitzpatrick

The 22 reserved seats for women should be a key part of the opposition alliance's platform Gary.

As should literature.

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