| My Land, My Country
PORT MORESBY – My mother, Eka Kama-Haro Kuku, was born at the Port Moresby General Hospital on 13 May 1965 to Kama Haro and Aiha Aee Kama.
This is her story.
MY father was a carpenter who worked with Douglas Airways, patching up little planes that had holes in them.
He had been a resident of Port Moresby since the 1930s. My parents had an arranged marriage, so my mum joined him in the late 1940s.
My siblings and I were all born and raised in Port Moresby.
Sometimes I look at all the things happening around me and I wonder what went wrong?
There’s so much violence, the prices of goods and services have risen and people are struggling to survive in the city.
My sisters and I used to go to beach in our miniskirts. We’d go swimming and hang out with our friends and no one would bother us.
Women and girls would be in their bikinis and swimsuits just lying on their towels or beach bed under their big umbrellas.
Food was very affordable. A cup of chips was 60 cents and the cup was big with crispy crinkle-cut chips served hot.
Lamb flaps were 50 cents or 60 cents depending on their size. Drumsticks were 70 cents. All the kaibars were run by Australians and Germans.
On the weekends we’d go to the Papuan Theatre in town (where the Town bus stop now is). It showed movies during the day.
We paid $1.50 to watch or $2.00 for the grand stage.
At night we’d go to Badili Cinema (where the Cholai wholesale shop is) or the one at Koki (near the bus stop area). The gate fee was 40 cents.
After the movies we’d walk home; no one would harass us.
Our favorite lunch spot was a kai bar at Koki where now City Mission is.
It served the best rice and stew for $2 or $3. And it was not like the rice and stew you get from kaibars today.
That rice and stew plate could feed a family of four. It was so big the stew would be pouring out from the big round plate they served it on.
Drinks were just 20 cents and, if you wanted juice, just 10 cents served in big cups with straws.
Sometimes when our parents didn’t give us money, we’d resell the coke bottles.
Four empty bottles were worth 20 cents. Or we’d just go to a shop and give them four empty bottles and they would give us a full bottle of coke.
At that time, it was just us up at TALAI, Gorobe and Youths from Hanuabada. There was no Vanagi Village at that time or even the Wanigelas. They came and settled later.
Those days, we didn’t start school at a certain age. Instead we would put our hands over our head and if we touched our ears than we’d start school.
In 1970, I started school at the Salvation Army Primary School.
The school fee was $13. For Lunch we had cheese sandwiches or ham sandwiches, fruit and juice for 20 cents.
Our classrooms have since been turned into homes at the back of the Salvation Army property at Koki.
Now, I look at Port Moresby and I am sad.
I don’t know what the future will be like, prices of goods and services are increasing.
Before, we could buy a lot with just a $2. Today, K2 can’t buy you much.
Canned meat was less than $2. Rabbit, beef, squid, all canned. With $20 you could stock up for a fortnight. Bags of rice cost $5.
In the 1980s, after independence we started using the kina. A rice bag cost K8 and chicken packets were K6.
Sometimes, I think back and I look at you, my children, my grandchildren, and I worry what the future will be.
Now life has changed.