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94 posts from March 2021

You will not colonise my children’s names

Simbu children (Simbu Children Foundation)
Sil Bolkin - "The names I chose for my children are saintly names from Simbu" (Simbu Children Foundation)


PORT MORESBY - Duncan Gabi must be thanked for raising the issue of 'decolonising the mind'.

I am a practicing Roman Catholic but all my eight children have traditional Simbu and Aroma Coast names.

When I took my first two children to the priest to enrol for baptism, the priest asked for their names.

Continue reading "You will not colonise my children’s names" »

Love, grief & the Old Man’s dilemma


Derived from the short story, ‘The Old Man, His Wife and the Young Girl’, adapted from Daniel Kumbon’s book, ‘Survivor: Alive in Mum’s Loving Arms’ available here from Amazon

FICTION - Rosemary and the Old Man had come across the girl a couple of years before when she sent a random text message to his mobile phone pleading for financial assistance.

The girl claimed to be thirteen and wanting to complete her primary education.

Continue reading "Love, grief & the Old Man’s dilemma" »

Mud Woman

Mud Woman (Karen K Redding)STEPHANIE ALOIS

She smells of Goroka coffee
in the perfume she wears each morning
What a beautiful way to start a day
Made of strawberry and honey
It’s difficult to resist her charms
Hooked on her explosive personality

A taste of wine in her presence
Spending more time with her
Leads to loving her even more
It’s difficult not to laugh at her jokes
Or her wicked sense of humour
She’ll get you thinking, she never cries

Continue reading "Mud Woman" »

Cash-craving relatives shun death traditions

The life and death of Imbakey Okuk
Segment of screenprint, 'The life and death of Imbakey Okuk' by Mathias Kauage (1987)


PORT MORESBY - At the dawn of time, all humans were born to toil the earth for sustenance until they grew grey hairs and died of old age.

But this is not always the case.

Some few dudes and lasses are born into a dome of privilege and have never have sweat on their brows before old age strikes and they dutifully depart.

Continue reading "Cash-craving relatives shun death traditions" »

School leavers: Containing the blast

John Kuri and family
John Kuri and daughters. "It still amazes me when each year politicians and bureaucrats announce that more than half of school leavers will have to fend for themselves"


PORT MORESBY - The newspaper headline late last year said that only 9,000 out of 27,000 Grade 12 leavers would get a place in a tertiary institution.

We’ve all seen headlines like this previously in Papua New Guinea. They happen each year.

Along with a story about the imminent disaster waiting to happen if the government doesn’t do more.

Continue reading "School leavers: Containing the blast" »

Misinformation fuels Covid surge in PNG

Covid testing in Port Moresby (Matt Cannon  St John's Ambulance PNG)
Covid testing in Port Moresby (Matt Cannon St John's Ambulance PNG)

| CoronaCheck | RMIT ABC Fact Check

MELBOURNE - As a wave of coronavirus cases in PNG threatens to spill over into Australia, experts are sounding a warning about online misinformation in the Pacific nation.

Amnesty International has lambasted Australia and New Zealand for what the group's Pacific researcher, Kate Schuetze, called a "woefully inadequate" response to the pandemic.

Continue reading "Misinformation fuels Covid surge in PNG" »

Decolonisation & the changing of our names

| Aunamelo | Edited

PORT MORESBY - While many people think decolonisation means just breaking away from colonisers and getting political independence, there’s more to it than the average mind can ever comprehend.

I am not going to write on political or economic decolonisation but on cultural decolonisation which I believe is the first step to take in the decolonisation process.

Continue reading "Decolonisation & the changing of our names" »

Covid vaccines & social media disinformation

Covid-19-vaccinationBARBARA ANGORO
| Duresi’s Odyssey | Edited

AUCKLAND - Last week I saw much social media commentary by fellow Papua New Guineans following a newspaper article on the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to PNG and other countries by GAVI.

GAVI is an international organisation that was established to improve access to vaccines for countries like PNG that are considered to be low income.

Continue reading "Covid vaccines & social media disinformation" »

The Perpetual Tears of Hela

Tears of HelaKOIVI R BIWA

Once no cries were heard nor bitter tears shed,
This time when ancients and babes mingled calm,
Love and respect were their constant companions,
When no one stood bewildered by enmity or anger

But it happened that the tuneful war cries sounded,
Heard, known, accepted by all far and near,
Wigmen danced fluidly to the beat of the kundu,
Warrior elegance betrayed the combat ahead

Continue reading "The Perpetual Tears of Hela" »

Canberra’s approach to PNG seems hapless


ADELAIDE - There are two observations I wish to make about Keith Jackson’s story on Australia’s response to the Covid crisis in Papua New Guinea.

The first is that the Australian government has yet to grasp the scale of the disaster unfolding in PNG and, consequently, has yet to realise that only a truly massive intervention by Australia (perhaps with the help of New Zealand) will ensure a timely and comprehensive implementation of a national vaccination program.

Continue reading "Canberra’s approach to PNG seems hapless" »

Zero for months; now PNG overwhelmed

Vaccine doses donated by Australia arrived in Port Moresby  Papua New Guinea  on Tuesday (Andrew Kutan  Agence France-Presse)LIVIA ALBECK-RIPKA
| New York Times | Extract

Link here for the full story in the New York Times

PORT MORESBY - The emergency rooms are heaving, health care workers are falling sick, and misinformation about the coronavirus is running rife.

It has all left Papua New Guinea, an island nation just north of Australia, in the grip of a deadly crisis, as a tripling of infections over the past month has swamped an already fragile health care system.

Continue reading "Zero for months; now PNG overwhelmed" »

Senate reveals Oz neglect of PNG Covid crisis

The Australian government got enormous media coverage for what was little more than this public relations exercise. Its real response to PNG's Covid crisis is woeful


NOOSA – Some of the most important windows into the operations of the federal government in Australia government are provided by Senate Estimates Committees.

The title may sound unexciting, but these committees – established to enable Senators twice a year to quiz government departments on how they are spending public money – provide a unique opportunity to allow Senators to determine how the government is operating.

Continue reading "Senate reveals Oz neglect of PNG Covid crisis" »

Junking our way to extinction

Smokestacks and garbage  Bangladesh (MR Hassan)PHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - Papua New Guinea kiaps who ventured into new areas, or areas that had only recently been contacted, became acutely aware of the value villagers placed on items that otherwise would have been thrown away.

These included tin cans, glass jars, bottles and cardboard boxes with brightly coloured exteriors.

Continue reading "Junking our way to extinction" »

Covidiots and fake news swamp social media

Bryan Kramer MP - engaged in a struggle to ensure the people of PNG take up vaccines in the face of a virulent social media campaign against them

| Kramer Report

Social media in Papua New Guinea has been running hot with false information about Covid vaccine, with the rumours fed by fear mongers, conspiracy theorists, religious objectors, mystics, political opportunists, self-styled ‘experts’ and plain old troublemakers.

Many politicians, some of whom have had the disease, have spoken out strongly against those people who are undermining vaccination. But there’s one MP who can’t do that: Richard Mendani, 53, the member for Kerema, who died of the disease on Friday.

In this article Justice Minister Bryan Kramer (who has recovered from Covid), continues to try to bring science and sense to the people he calls ‘Covidiots’ - KJ

Continue reading "Covidiots and fake news swamp social media" »

Tok Pisin’s emergence as a literary language

Michael Dom - "People think English is the only language ‘good enough’ to demonstrate their capacity to write creatively. This is a silly notion that needs to change in order for PNG to really have a thriving creative writing culture"


NOOSA – Michael Dom, an established and most readable poet, has in recent years occasionally delved into the intricacies of translating his poetry between English, Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu.

Translation of this kind is a high art because it goes beyond the literal into often complex metaphors that do not translate readily from one language to another.

Continue reading "Tok Pisin’s emergence as a literary language" »

Love, death, old age & other mysteries

Late Francis Nii and Daniel Kumbon  2016 Brisbane writers festival
Great writers and great friends, the late Francis Nii and Daniel Kumbon at the 2016 Brisbane writers festival


An edited extract from ‘The old man, his wife & the young girl’, a short story in Daniel’s book, ‘Survivor: Alive in Mum’s Loving Arms’, available from Amazon at this link for $16.26 (paperback) or $1.26 (Kindle) - KJ

WABAG - Akali Wakane had met Rosemary at university – he was a law student and she an arts student majoring in social work.

At the time he claimed her as his soulmate, they were both in their second year of study.

Continue reading "Love, death, old age & other mysteries" »

New website reveals secrets of the loggers

| PNGi Forests

PORT MORESBY - For more than 25 years, deep in the remote and inaccessible tropical forests of Papua New Guinea, a huge industrial complex has been operating.

Foreign owned companies have been bulldozing tracks, felling huge trees, cutting logs and dragging them to the coast to be loaded onto ships and sent overseas.

Continue reading "New website reveals secrets of the loggers" »

Covid: Hundreds of thousands ill, some seriously

People in the Torres Strait islands just south of PNG are already being vaccinated

| Kramer Report

PORT MORESBY - After recently being infected and having recovered from Covid-19, I’m not considered high risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from the virus.

I do not require the immediate protection of the vaccine. So why will I take it?

Continue reading "Covid: Hundreds of thousands ill, some seriously" »

Essay contest delivered some useful lessons


NOOSA – The inaugural Tingting Bilong Mi [My Opinion] essay contest for Papua New Guinean writers under the age of 35 resulted in some great writing.

The contest was the brainchild of Dr Michael Dom and the ‘Mastermind’ team and the topic asked the young writers to expound on the subject of whether the PNG government should set its mind to encouraging and supporting home-grown literature.

Continue reading "Essay contest delivered some useful lessons" »

They’re blowin’ smoke up our arses


Yesterday was International Poetry Day and Papua New Guinea’s unofficial poet laureate, Michael Dom, hauled out his trusted, rusted, almost busted Olivetti typewriter to do justice to the occasion with a salute to Bob Dylan’s renowned 1962 protest song, 'Blowin’ in the Wind' - KJ

How many books may a Maserati buy
Before it rusts in a shed
How many crooks make a government bad
Before it gets through our heads
Yes, and how many times may a prime minister lie
Before we know he's a thief
Those politicians are blowin’ smoke up our arses
They're blowin’ smoke right up our arses

Continue reading "They’re blowin’ smoke up our arses" »

The death of Somare & the descent of PNG

Early leaders
Kavali, Somare, Chan and Guise in 1973 - independence leaders whose idealism was compromised by the realities and opportunities of government

| John Menadue’s Pearls & Irritations

Published as 'On the death of PNG’s first MP, Sir Michael Somare'

MELBOURNE - The death of Sir Michael Somare, first prime minister of Papua New Guinea, has occasioned an outpouring of national grief and heartfelt obituaries for ‘the Father of the Nation’, ‘the Chief’.

That he was, and remains, widely respected, even loved, across the country is beyond dispute.

Continue reading "The death of Somare & the descent of PNG" »

Covid-19: real, serious, agonising & here

Simon Pentanu
Simon Pentanu - 'Covid is not nice. I would not wish it on anyone'


BUKA – It is not a conspiracy. It is not fake. It does not choose between nationalities, race or countries. Covid-19 is in Papua New Guinea, including Bougainville.

After an agonising three days from its symptoms, my test 48 hours ago returned to confirm that I am Covid-19 positive.

Continue reading "Covid-19: real, serious, agonising & here" »

Call for PNG to accept Chinese vaccines

| Sydney Morning Herald | Extracts

SYDNEY - Two of Australia’s top infectious disease and immunology experts say Papua New Guinea should take up the offer of Chinese-made vaccines if they are safe, as Europe threatens to withhold vaccine deliveries and PNG teeters on the edge of a Covid-19 disaster.

China has made repeated overtures to Papua New Guinea in recent months, offering to send vaccines to the country to “support each other’s core interests”.

Continue reading "Call for PNG to accept Chinese vaccines" »

Dealing with violence against women in politics

Women (VictoriaSmith)REPORT
| National Democratic Institute | Extract

Link here to the full report

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental organisation that since its founding in 1983 has worked with local partners to support and strengthen democratic institutions and practices and promote citizen participation in government

WASHINGTON - Women are historically underrepresented in politics in the Pacific Islands; Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands are no exception.

At the same time, women in all three countries experience shocking levels of violence, in the home and in public.

Continue reading "Dealing with violence against women in politics" »

The mythologising of Michael Somare


TUMBY BAY - It’s ironic that in his death Michael Somare seems to have united Papua New Guinea in a way that he could never achieve while he was alive.

Some of this is owed to the cult of the haus krai but more is owed to the nation’s overwhelming need for a universal hero who can be celebrated across all language and tribal groups.

Continue reading "The mythologising of Michael Somare" »

Remembered: Michael Somare’s escape from Rabaul

Double outigger canoe (Mariners Museum  Virginia  USA)
A Philippines double outrigger canoe (Mariners Museum, Virginia, USA)


ALI ISLAND - I want to share with you all a special tribute to our late great Great Grand Chief Sir Michael T Somare with a short story from my home, Ali Island in the Aitape District of Sandaun Province.

During the childhood years of our Great Grand Chief at Rabaul during World War II, a late gentleman by the name of Makarius Menik from Jaltaleouw village on Ali Island, with some of his fellow comrades, sailed out of Rabaul to Murik in a traditional double outrigger canoe.

Continue reading "Remembered: Michael Somare’s escape from Rabaul" »

Violence against women: an Australian failure

Women's March 4 Justice  Canberra  Monday
Women's March 4 Justice in Canberra on Monday


SYDNEY - There were no mixed messages about violence against women from Australia’s former foreign minister Julie Bishop when she launched the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s gender equality and women's empowerment strategy in early 2016.

“It's insidious, it's endemic in some parts of our region and we have done a great deal to shine a light on it and to find ways that we can tackle it,” Ms Bishop unequivocally stated.

Continue reading "Violence against women: an Australian failure" »

The old man, his wife & the young girl

Baka  Daniel & Jimmy  Gembogl  2016
Writers Baka Bina, Daniel Kumbon and Jimmy Drekore, Gembogl, Simbu Province, 2016


WABAG - I have published many books based on facts and actual events, but I haven’t yet attempted a novel.

I guess one road to writing a novel is to first publish short stories.

I attempted a short story just once. It’s included in one of my books, ‘Survivor: Alive in Mum’s Loving Arms’. The title of the fictional tale is the title of this piece.

Continue reading "The old man, his wife & the young girl" »

Mola: Soon people could die in parking lots

St John’s Ambulance member sanitises hands at Covid testing at Taurama Aquatic Centre (Kalolaine Fainu - The Guardian)
St John’s Ambulance member sanitises hands at Covid testing at Taurama Aquatic Centre (Kalolaine Fainu - The Guardian)

| Guardian Australia

PORT MORESBY - At Port Moresby General Hospital, about 20% of women presenting in labour have symptoms of Covid-19. Of these, about one-third (four to five women a day) test positive.

We get the test results back about two to three hours after we take the swabs, so often by the time the woman is delivering her baby it is too late to transfer her to the Covid isolation ward for the birth.

Continue reading "Mola: Soon people could die in parking lots" »

Covid in PNG: I hope Canberra understands

Covid png
Medical staff at a health clinic  (Alex Ellinghausen)


ADELAIDE - It is little short of astounding that the Australian government has, until now at least, utterly failed to grasp the potential scale of the catastrophe looming on our door step.

Once again, our government has been effectively "asleep at the wheel" when it comes to what he terms “our Pacific family".

Continue reading "Covid in PNG: I hope Canberra understands" »

MSF: Australia blocked early PNG vaccine

Port Moresby residents line up at Rita Flynn Sports Complex to get Covid tests (Kaolaine Fainu - The Guardian
Port Moresby residents line up at Rita Flynn sports complex to get Covid tests (Kalolaine Fainu - The Guardian)

| Guardian Australia | Extracts

SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea could have received Covid-19 vaccines before its current crisis if Australia had not been part of a group of countries that blocked a proposal to free up access to Covid-19 medicines, say Médecins Sans Frontières Australia.

“There’s no doubt [if] the intellectual property waiver had been hastened and scaled at an earlier time there was a higher probability that PNG would have been able to get vaccines [by now],” Jennifer Tierney, Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Australia said.

Continue reading "MSF: Australia blocked early PNG vaccine" »

Oz announces urgent Covid help to PNG

Payne & Morrison
Australia's foreign minister Payne and prime minister Morrison at this morning's media conference in Canberra (Channel 9)

| Transcribed by Peacifica | Edited

Peacifica supports and advocates peacebuilding in the South Pacific. Its philosophy is that building and sustaining peaceful societies is a critical challenge that Pacific islanders and Australians can meet together. Read more about Peacifica here

CANBERRA – What follows  are the major points from a media conference this morning addressed by Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison, foreign minister Marise Payne and chief health officer Dr Paul Kelly.

The event was attended by Peacifica and its transcription has been edited  for publication by PNG Attitude.

Continue reading "Oz announces urgent Covid help to PNG" »

The secret public life of an author


TUMBY BAY - If you write books, people will seek you out.

They will write letters to you, send you emails and come knocking at your door.

Even my abject and humble efforts have had that effect.

_Man bilong buk _Met2 _FightingWhen I lived in Hervey Bay, Queensland, it was a regular occurrence.

I’m not talking about a deluge, but every few months I’d be sought out.

I thought our move to the relatively remote west coast of South Australia would put an end to that. But it hasn’t been the case.

Continue reading "The secret public life of an author" »

Australia records gratitude to Grand Chief

Hon Scott Morrison MP


Motion to acknowledge the life and service of the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare delivered in the Parliament of Australia by Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison on 16 March 2021, as recorded in Hansard.

CANBERRA - Mr Speaker, I move that this House acknowledge the passing on the 26th of February 2021 of Papua New Guinea Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and place on record its gratitude of his long-standing and respected relationship with Australia and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

Continue reading "Australia records gratitude to Grand Chief" »

Of white supremacists & the ‘kanakamen’

Painting of Jim Taylor  Port Moresby Craft Market  1996 (Pacific Manuscripts Bureau)
Jim Taylor - artwork from Port Moresby Craft Market,  1996 (Pacific Manuscripts Bureau)


The Sky Travellers by Bill Gammage, Melbourne University Press (1994). ISBN 9780522848274. 348 pages. Paperback $49.99

NORTHUMBRIA, UK - A re-examination of Professor Bill Gammage’s book, The Sky Travellers, published by Melbourne University Press in 1994, is timely.

It is especially relevant now given that many Papua New Guineans want to know more about their early colonial history and the attitudes of those who made it.

Continue reading "Of white supremacists & the ‘kanakamen’" »