Education in PNG is not always what it’s cracked up to be
O’Neill defends his preparations for Bougainville referendum

Separating the sham from the sincere. True leaders know how

Home brew crowd
'If an educated man is enticed into a con men’s den to drink home brew or smoke weed, he will be bestowed with grandiose titles & praised for his great wisdom'


PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinean society has changed rapidly from good to bad and with it people’s ethical behaviour. The Pidgin English language has changed too.

The betel nut and mustard markets and the dens of the drug addicts are also factories where the latest Tok Pisin is manufactured.

Old and young alike are now savvy in manufacturing words and there is no keeping adult-only language away from kids.

Coarse language, sexually explicit songs and dirty jokes are aired freely in the internet and social media, in ordinary conversation and on radio stations [referred to as Tok Pisin Kilim Ol [‘having infinite vocabulary in Pidgin’].

In this overwhelming melee of information, Kenyan money schemes and Filipino global money pyramids send chain emails and Facebook messages to lure people into false wealth arrangements.

Some smart people in PNG have also learnt a few tricks from these money scams and devised their own swindles to make money, acquire mobile phone credits or have sex on dinau and flee without paying.

The words manufactured and used by con men, pimps and drug addicts inundate villages, towns and settlements. They are words cooked up to massage educated fools and wannabe politicians to ego-climax even as their money is siphoned off.

Strangely, it’s a tactic that is somehow tolerated and has taken hold on society. Maybe desperate people will believe anything.

In Simbu, some of the fabricated titles are Daddy Boss, Fada, Paps Mahn, Senior Mangi, Yalkuru, Leader, Apkuru, Chief, Fitman and more.

If an educated man goes into a pub or some con men’s den, one of them will politely stalk him and then minutes later a crowd will circle and start bestowing him with titles.

“Chief, when did you come? Oh, please, some extrasensory wiring in heaven must have been switched on between us when you contemplated coming here.

“I actually uttered tributes about you yesterday to some people from the other tribe. Chief, you can ask Tom, Dick and Rose and they will confirm what I just told you.”

Rose will loudly lecture fellow pimps, “Paps Mahn actually schooled to the cliff-edge of knowledge. There is no more left that he can study”.

These and more feel good sermons flow uninterrupted until the addressee’s legs grow longer and head bigger quick time.

Only a handful of educated people and village tycoons tell these scammers to shut up and vanish but many with leadership obsessions and scholarly egos unfortunately do not sieve genuine conversation from the gibberish of vanity stroking.

Many targets succumb to the bait of the con men and women and squander their hard earned cash.  In fact, many believe this foolish talk and resign from good jobs or halt their entrepreneurial ambitions to run for elections, unfortunately going bankrupt in the process.

In last year’s national election, for example, the con men, pimps and drug addicts targeted Simbus in the diaspora who were returning to contest one of the province’s seats.

Most of these outsiders who came back to join the contest possessed wealth and highly credentialled CVs and were subjected to a range of scams and gimmicks to siphon off their wealth.

And what happened at the polls? Well, the people voted for Simbu-based candidates and not a single person from the diaspora was elected to any of the seats in any capacity at all.

At that point they realised they were in fact not the heroes they thought they were in the pubs and addicts’ dens.

Many of those fooled and duped are now themselves smoking marijuana and sipping homebrew with the drug addicts.

Others are back in Port Moresby looking for a big contract or following politicians around the corridors of power seeking to amass some wealth, presumably so they can return to feed the pimps and savour more ego-inflating titles.

To many people, the best music to their ears is not hearing the great Pat Siwi or Tom Lari but hearing their own name on the lips of another person. Especially if it preceded by Daddy Boss, Fada, Paps Mahn, Leader, Chief or some other honorific.

The truth is that names are a part of every culture and they are of enormous importance to the tribes and the people who receive them.

There are no lesser names in a tribe; all names are to be revered and these are more important than addressing a person with manufactured titles.

Aspiring leaders and educated men should be able to sieve genuine sentiments from gibberish and ego stroking. They need to tell these con men straight to their face to call them by their mothers’ given names and nothing else.

Aspiring leaders and educated people have to know how to communicate, interact, bridge and bond with genuine people in the mountains and valleys if they wish to successfully pursue their political or other ambitions.


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J K Domyal

Sil, it is true we see this appalling, cheap con name/title propagated by thugs at the fringes of towns and cities and even in the villages.

All done to solicit some few gains from the affluent, which some of us see as detrimental to cultural and family values of names in society.

But on the other side, it’s the shift in how people think, learn and live in society nowadays.

People in high office decide to steal using their office and title despite being well paid. Those in the villages and on the fringes of towns and cities also devise ways to make a quick gain as you have described.

People can devise a clever strategy to rob a bank, do holdups on the road or rob a supermarket - all are risky in most cases. Others use less risky intellect to give you names/titles and set you off to cloud nine and you fork out more from your pocket.

Their strategy is less risky than robbing a bank. You the so called affluent or who just arrived from metropolitan society take the risk by digging deep into the pocket and forking out hard earned savings.

Those of us living in metropolitan society need to keep abreast of the shift in society at village level. If you isolate yourself in metropolitan society, you will be ripped off when you visit your village or town for the first time.

Arthur Williams

I smiled that day many years ago when I heard Iambake Okuk had decided to treat his electorate to many many cartons of beer. They were said to have been distributed at an airfield in Simbu. I laughed out loud when the results of the election were announced – he lost.

By the way, I notice that the renamed 'Okuk Highway' has now largely reverted to the original 'Highlands Highway'.

It was a bit like in New Ireland where what I (and many others) called Bulaminsky Highway is now the politically correct Boluminski.

Most reporters refer to New Hanover Island rather than Lavongai although the latter was approved by the parliamentary names committee after Walla Gukguk MP wanted the correct name for his island. Interestingly my family perhaps more correctly spell it Lovongai.

Sil describes the drug dens and their linguistically imaginative speech. When I worked in Moresby in 1980 one of my workers from a settlement told me to be wary of the ‘last calls’.

He was a highlander and I found his Pidgin hard to fully understand after my islands indoctrination into the language. It took me some weeks to realise he was warning me of the ‘rascals’ roaming the capital. Apparently the pronunciation of ‘R’ is hard for a lot of highland's folk.

I was once told that the Tari tribe is actually Huri but comes out as Huli. Mind, some have explained that the swampy Gogodala is actually a similar mispronunciation or mishearing by outsiders of GogodaRa.

I notice how the ‘bilong’ of my 1970s is often now ‘blong’ and mostly ‘blo’.

As the village idiot in 2007 I attended Taskul United Church still with its traditional separation of male and female sitting arrangements. We always started service with 30 minutes of so-called worship songs that were often mindless musical recitation of a few verses.

But one favourite of mine was ‘All stand up!’ I only found out a year or so later that my daughter and her friends across the aisle would giggle as they heard the silly white man singing i'All stand up' because they and the rest of tiny congregation were singing ‘Hosanna!’

Oh, it’s lovely when the mighty fall - be it in chapel or in politics. We had one wannabe who disappeared for months after the votes were counted. He only got one vote in his home village, his own.

That’s why I am sad to hear PNG may forget the preferential voting they have used in general elections and go back to the less democratic first past the post.

I was overjoyed to see lots of sitting MPs lose their seats when the fairer preferential system was introduced. They had thought they were permanently in control of their electorates.

I used to hear MPs stand up in parliament and say, ‘All my people in wanted this or that action’ when he was elected by a mere 10% of his electorate.

Over here in the UK I cringe when too often hearing Tory MPs telling us, ‘The country voted for us to govern…’ Actually 36% voted Conservative to get 306 seats while Labour and Liberals got 52% but only 305 seats under the first past the post system.

If FPTP returns to PNG the shenanigans in political life Sil writes about will certainly increase as the urban elite make their five yearly pilgrimage home.

I leave with Council president and onetime MP Walla Gukguk’s advice to citizens on how to choose a leader. He used three criteria:

Savi bilongem (knowledge)

Fasun Bilongem (community life)

Sindaun bilongem (family life)

John Muka

Sil Bolkin - Another masterpiece cutting through the fine lines separating genuine interaction from fabricated con tactics. Well written.

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