I have reason to celebrate this Independence Day
Want to blow it all up & get out of here? Harry did

At the dawn of independence, 1975....

Post Courier Independence Day
The front page of the Post-Courier of Tuesday, 16 September 1975. The newspaper in my archive is now brown and showing its age but it still radiates the excitement and joy of that remarkable day when Papua New Guinea set out on its own journey as a united and sovereign nation - KJ

And in this special Independence Day edition of PNG Attitude....
I have reason to celebrate this Independence Day, an essay by Francis Nii
Flying the new flag: It was the kiap's duty, a memoir by Robert Forster
Airwaves struggles: Broadcasting back then, history by Keith Jackson
Sgt Kasari Aru - recollections of independence, extract from a new novel by Philip Fitzpatrick
Today is our country's birthday, poetry by Porap Gai
Why we should celebrate Independence Day, article by Lucy Kopana
Take Back PNG, poetry by Joseph Tambure



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Arthur Williams


I too have a copy of the Post Courier’s I-Day edition. I also have two good looking barong shirts that I bought in 1979 for celebrating Independence that year. They have patch pockets embroidered with a Singapore attempt at representing a Bird of Paradise with a larger one on the left breast.

Hadn’t been able to wear either as back in Wales I ate too much of the wrong foods after 30 years of the more restrictive diets of living in rural PNG. However last year having lost a few kilos I did manage to wear it on the 16th even though it was still a bit tight.

Every September 16th I tend to get a bit emotional as the day brings memories of days, events, places and the people who populated those moments in my life story; a personal ‘This is your life’ phenomena.

At 80 the past is far more realistic than the hazy future trail to the terminus. Some of the aspects of modern living remind me of my dad’s comments on some events that had shaken his long lived life-views: ‘Thank God I won’t be here to witness it!’

Yet despite too many Thomas-like doubts many Christians have a hope for a brighter future not the wishy-washy ‘Jam tomorrow’ promises of politicians but of an eternal happiness – somewhere!

So 44 years since watching the Australian flag descend in front of TIA headquarters on the beach at Lavongai, I am optimistic that there will be better days for the silent majority of PNG citizens faced with the daily task of putting a meal on the table for their families.

The goals are clear but the route to achieve them may not be easy and may even be more difficult for the urban elites to encounter than their village wantoks who are used to inevitable daily hardships.

I was always amazed at the pragmatism of the villagers across PNG; be it no medicine in the aid-post, having to walk a long way just to get water in a dry season; waiting on the beach for the promised boat that never came or when the tiny village tradestore ran out kero.

When traversing Metewoi Bay in the 1980s I was shocked to see the narrow coastal village showed no hut with any sort of light apart from the glow from some cooking fires.

“Didn’t our ancestors survive without lamps? Noken wari’ bihain yumi gat kero!” was what my host for the night told me after I went ashore. I nodded but inwardly imagined the outcry from NCD dwellers when there was a power blackout.

So I wish my extended family on the island and PNG citizens everywhere, “Happy Anniversary!”

Corney Korokan Alone

Thanks Keith for this wonderful and historic Post Courier page. Getting teary-eyed just seeing this.

Thank you also for your fantastic contribution towards journalism and literature development in beloved homeland, Papua New Guinea - your first career journey up north.

This dawn, I was with my family at the 44th flag raising at the Independence Hill, just near the National Parliament. It was gold.

Thank God for beloved Papua New Guinea, 44 years on.
I feel proud and optimistic about the future that lies ahead.

Best place in the world to start a career. Best people in the world to start it with - KJ

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