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Our daily bread: How scarcity drives the Mosbi mob mentality:

In Port Moresby dogs roam the streets freely eating garbage and scavenging whatever they can find to survive


PORT MORESBY – It was on a Saturday that the mob stormed into view, alleging that a dog bit a woman on the leg.

There were no witnesses and the incident was not reported to the owner of the dog.

The table mamas who erect stalls and sell betel nut along this stretch of the street did not witness a dog bite.

These table mamas report everything that happens in the neighbourhood to those returning from work because they tend their stalls 24/7 to make ends meet in this unforgiving city.

A heavily bandaged woman was carted in a wheelbarrow escorted by men, women and children to the unregulated hostel in the street where Kol stayed.

A grubby man representing the mob came straight up to Kol, pointing at his face. He knew Kol was not the owner of the dog but acted as if he was.

“Your dog bite off a piece on her calf muscle. We took her to the hospital and the doctor said that her leg will be amputated if not properly treated,” was the line.

Kol listened politely because he was a loner and the mob were ready to devour anybody who opposed their story cooked up to make some money.

There were no medical papers presented as proof of a visit to the hospital. It was also unusual that the injured woman was not given an opportunity to tell of her experience.

The leader of the mob resolved that Kol would reimburse the cost of the medical treatment and compensate them to ‘fan their stomach’, as is part of their custom.

Kol said he did not own a dog, or a house or land but he was shouted down by the men and women. The mob insisted that Kol owned the dog and all they wanted was compensation and he should not divert from that.

A neighbour, a leader in the area, endeavoured to confirm that Kol was not the owner of the dog but the mob told him to back off.

Kol, in his second attempt to defend himself, said dogs being dogs come here to scavenge in the rubbish but he and others here do not who owns the dog that bit the woman.

In fact, the dog was owned by Gemo who he lived in an adjacent block.

The mob knew Gemo owned the dog but decided to hook Kol into the problem so he could partly own the dog. The primary reason was that Kol came from the same area as Gemo (though they were not related) and besides, unlike Gemo, he had a permanent job.

Kol and the Gemo were outnumbered in that stretch of the street so Kol had to raise the white flag of surrender.

Without going to Gemo, Kol contributed K200 and other people living in the neighbourhood had the courtesy to donate smaller bills adding up to K550.

He handed the K550 to the leader and the guy took the money and stated that if the woman’s leg developed an ulcer he would come back to Kol for greater compensation.

The next day, a Sunday, the thugs went to Gemo, coerced him and got K300 from him.

On Monday morning, the woman sloughed her bandages, chopped her walking stick and without flinching marched to town to sell her betel nuts.

This mob had felt the sharp pain of scarcity that makes them insane and unsafe to mingle with and live alongside.

Although a few of them are law abiding and have a mountain of civic virtue.


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Michael Dom

It is not virtuous to do good only when we are secure, the act is trouble-free and requires little extra effort.

Similarly with abiding by the law.

I believe there is a popular story about a desert dwelling god who sent his son down from heaven to talk to some folks and end up being killed for reasons along the same line.

No, these people in the mob are no better than the scavenging dogs.

In fact, probably worse, because they are conscious of their predicament.

A dog has a sorry look but doesn't perceive or conceive it.

But I see the gist of your story, Kela, and agree with you.

My thoughts, scarcity breeds desire which leads to jealousy, sister to violence, both whores that everyone has occasionally bed.

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