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Another splendid Simbu Writers Association publication

Quest for EducationPHIL FITZPATRICK

‘Quest for Education: From Selling Firewood to Yale University’ by Pole John Kale, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018, 148 pages, ISBN: 978-1729671146, US$8.00 plus postage from Amazon Books

TUMBY BAY - Thomas Kale, the son of Delku Pole of the Koiaku clan of the Mian tribe of Gumine, had a problem. He had inherited large tracts of land from his father but had no male heir to pass it all on to as he approached old age.

To this end he decided to marry a second wife. Unfortunately he had no idea where to find one or who she might be.

Then he heard that one of his close clan brothers had divorced his wife and was sending her back to her village and clan.

Thomas set out to ambush and kidnap his clansman’s ex-wife as she made her way through the bush back to her clan.

So surprised was the woman and afraid of what Thomas might do to her if she refused his sudden offer of marriage, she reluctantly agreed.

Over time the woman put the trauma and embarrassment of her kidnapping aside and settled down with Thomas and his first wife.

After giving birth to two daughters she finally presented the increasingly anxious Thomas with a son.

That son, born to Thomas and his second wife, Nirua, was Pole John Kale.

Thomas wanted his only son to grow up healthy but also quickly so he could show him all his land and its boundaries while he was still alive.

He had noticed that those children who went to school seemed much healthier and physically bigger than those that stayed in the village.

The idea that a good education could lead to a good career and relative affluence didn’t figure in his calculations.

He duly enrolled his son in school.

However, although he had plenty of land, Thomas was otherwise quite poor and it was a struggle to raise the money for his son’s education.

To this end he took on the lowly job of cutting and selling firewood.

Through many trials and tribulations Thomas’ son eventually completed his education right up to post-graduate level.

His particular field was forestry and he attributes this to his father’s work as a wood seller and the years he spent helping him.

We don’t know whether Thomas’ son actually inherited his land or what he did with it but we do find out how he contributed to the development of Papua New Guinea as a result of his education.

Unfortunately, we also find out how Pole John Kale’s research, ideas and endeavours often came to naught because of a disinterested and complacent government and an exploitive private sector.

This is a familiar story in Papua New Guinea of course and Pole John Kale has thought about it in some detail.

These thoughts make up the final chapter of his memoir.

At the beginning of this chapter he says, “From all my work and study in Papua New Guinea and abroad, one question kept bothering me. What kind of society will Papua New Guineans of today transfer to the next generation of Papua New Guineans? [I] certainly [hope it is] not a ruined society!”

He further says that, “At present, PNG is undertaking massive development of its environmental resources which are loaded with many social, economic and environmental expectations from the society and the government’s role to balance environment and development is becoming more crucial now than before.”

To this end he has suggested setting up an Environment Court and Tribunal to guide Papua New Guinea’s development goals.

So far he has got nowhere with this endeavour.

This is, unfortunately a familiar Papua New Guinean story. There are many good people in Papua New Guinea with sensible ideas. So far none of them seem to have been able to establish traction and a powerful enough voice to create the changes required.

Pole John Kale is optimistic that it will happen one day.

This is another Simbu Writer’s Association publication under the competent hand of Francis Nii.


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