LAE - On Monday 7 December Engan author Daniel Kumbon launched Victory Song of Pingeta’s Daughter, a 400-page book which based on the colonial and post-colonial history of the Wabag district and Enga Province, of which it is a part.
Keith Jackson on PNG Attitude commented that, “PNG history has most often been told by the colonisers but now home-grown authors are offering another view. Prolific author Daniel Kumbon’s latest work, Victory Song, tells the true story of a highlands family from first Western contact to today”.
That sounds like a book a few of our politicians might have an interest in championing, or perhaps not?
Just before he became prime minister, James Marape had been presented with four copies of Daniel’s self-published books.
At the time, Daniel expressed optimism that “the new government would at least see the significance of literature and the role it plays in nation building.
“Literature has the ability to provide knowledge and improve the quality of education in a country like ours where poor literacy rates remain the greatest challenge for people who continue to lack proper educational facilities.”
Daniel remarked that “there is no official encouragement for Papua New Guinean writers, but for those involved in its pursuit, literature gives us the greatest satisfaction to record history in draft form for the benefit of future generations.”
However, in November last year, just three months later, Daniel reported that he and fellow writers Betty Wakia and Caroline Evari, were “struggling to tell our prime minister that literature is very important”.
They had been led to believe by the prime minister’s office that James Marape would accept a petition signed by hundreds of writers and their supporters in PNG and overseas.
This did not happen, but – given the long struggle for recognition of home-grown writing - the disappointment was no surprise.
As we move into 2021, the new Ples Singsing Papua Niuginian Writer’s Blog believes that supporting PNG authors for PNG readers is a practical way to ‘Take Back PNG’.
We will be giving back to PNG those stories (fiction and non-fiction) that belong to us and encompass who we are and what we value in our society.
Promoting PNG writers means rewarding PNG readers and encouraging PNG thinkers.
We want people to read essays from our youth, students in secondary schools, technical, vocational and teachers colleges and universities.
Hearing from you is the best way to determine the value of our cause and decide how best to achieve our goal.
This is why we have launched the Tingting Bilong Mi essay competition.
This privately funded writing contest has a five-year lifespan and aims to engage with youth aged between 16 and 36 who are currently enrolled in an educational institution.
The essay competition was launched on 1 December and ends on 31 January 2021.
Entry is free to all Papua New Guinean citizens living in-country. Three winners will be announced at the start of the school term at a date to be set in February 2021.
The subject is straightforward.
Tell us why you think the PNG government should (or should not) buy PNG-authored books.
We’ll compile the best essays into a book and have a copy delivered to the prime minister’s office.
All entries will go through a preliminary judging by a panel of six published PNG writers and the final judging of the top ten will be undertaken by Australian author Phil Fitzpatrick and PNG academic and researcher Fiona Hukula.
The best entries will be published in the Post Courier and The National newspapers.
Well written essays may be edited for publication on the Ples Singsing and PNG Attitude blogs.
Cash prizes are offered for first place K500, second place K300 and third place K200.
The three winners will each receive two books by PNG authors valued at K50 each.
Selected essays will be collated into a book which will be published by JDT Independent Publishing, and the school or institute of the winning essayists will receive two copies for their library.
Exceptional and interested writers may be offered six months free coaching and mentoring by senior writers from PNG and abroad, from which they will be expected to produce one critical essay on a topic of their choice.
A small award ceremony may be held at a school in Port Moresby, Lae or Goroka dependent on logistical arrangements or otherwise books will be delivered by mail.
We look forward to reading what you think.