WABAG - The deafening silence from prime minister James Marape about the writers’ petition on the importance of Papua New Guinea literature is challenging but writers must not give up.
A country that neglects to promote the power of literature is destined to become pregnant with more illiterates.
I know the prime minister is a busy person and sometimes just can’t find the time to sit down and respond to such paperwork, but this is a priority he really must not overlook.
I’m worried about the long silence of the prime minister about the petition but my advice to fellow writers in PNG is that we must not underestimate the power of literature. In its own time it will do that which is desired.
As we traverse back in history, we see clearly that some of the major revolutions took place as a result of literature.
In Europe, Martin Luther upheld the Word of God and the world broke off from the Roman shackles of darkness. His push for the Word polarised the then known world into Catholicism and Protestantism. Literature is an instrument of revolution.
French writer Victor Hugo gives a vivid view of the French Revolution in his profound novel Les Misérables and a peak of French romantic literature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl, a victim of the Holocaust during the reign of dictator Adolf Hitler. She penned her secret life as a hideaway in her personal journal that eventually became The Diary of a Young Girl, one of the best read books of the twentieth century.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet-Beecher Stowe, and the memoir, 12 Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup, spoke about the cruelties and the hardships of the African-American slaves in the southern states of America. These two books helped ignite the Civil War that paved the way for the abolition of slavery.
In the Philippines, the national hero, Jose Rizal, was both a revolutionist and a writer. He wrote outstanding and powerful novels that shook the Spanish Empire when the Philippines was still a colony. His best and outstanding works include, Noli Me Tangere, and its sequel, El Filibusterismo, which contributed to the country’s independence from Spain.
Literature is inseparable from humanity and explains core human values. The outstanding works of the most famous Greek philosophers, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, contain virtues that promote perfection and harmony to a society if only human beings have the willingness to uphold and practice them.
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave speaks about the importance of human wisdom and the difficulties we face if we neglect matters that are fundamental to human life. These philosophers crafted beautiful words that lit up logic and new ideas. The men are long gone but their literature still benefits humanity.
On that level also is the power of the Christian Bible. The Holy Bible, one of the oldest written scriptures, is a compilation of tales, beliefs, and accounts that teach about Christianity and Judaism. Within a span of a thousand years from the Prophet Moses to the Apostle Paul, the Bible was written by numerous authors of different backgrounds who believed the Bible to be inspired by God’s divine wisdom.
Therein were explanations of the mysteries of the complexities of life as well as rules for personal faith and answers to three basic questions: where did I come from (origin), why am I here (purpose) and where am I going (destiny)?
The same goes for the Muslim Qu’ran, the Jewish Torah and the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita, Ramayana and Veda.
This all testifies to the reality that literature is fundamental to human life.
Our PNG writers must never give up. They must continue to write until their tenacity and perseverance yield fruition.
PNG writers must write until they die because each generation will continue to push until our peoples realise the central importance of literature and its power to guide the welfare of the nation.