UKARUMPA - We are a nation that is drowning in its own oil. We are a nation that is being dragged under – submerged by the weight of our gold.
We suffocate as our natural gases get sucked out of our lungs by the barrel. Our large timber exports continue to land us in cardboard shelters. Every ship that sails away with our tuna leaves us staring at an empty plate.
We continue to pride ourselves with delusions of grandeur. We are not rich. We are not landowners. We are not independent. We are not free. We are not a sovereign nation.
We are a nation in denial. With all of our natural wealth, we are the poorest black country in the world.
The rich do not live in kunai huts without electricity and access to basic services. Landowners do not scavenge through dumps for food. An independent nation does not borrow from its neighbours to feed her children.
The free do not slave away in unbearable conditions for less than minimum wage. A sovereign nation is not governed by the dictates of foreigners.
Our anthem is bellowed from the mountaintops every morning but we have yet to grasp the true meaning of Freedom and Independence: words as empty as the drum that tune us to the chorus.
We are a suppressed nation of voiceless people. Not a single ounce of patriotism courses through our veins. We embrace ignorance for it is bliss.
We offer ourselves to be exploited. We carry their briefcases with heads high in the sky and go home in the afternoon with empty bilums.
We hold back the tears and smile at them as they walk off in broad daylight with our birthright.
We are represented by the deaf, mute and blind because they are a true reflection of who we are as a nation.
They crawl on their knees and beg us for our fingers. They entice us with their shiny coins, only to rip our guts out from under us and throw us into the mumu pit with their lamb-flaps.
We elect puppets to speak on our behalf and mutter complaints when their strings get pulled and they drift away from us, having sold us out to better themselves.
We watch them transform from skinny politicians in rags to obese marionettes in suits, inflated by empty promises and the lies.
We watch the migration from huts to hotel suites. We watch because that is all we are capable of doing - spectators to our own demise.
When a coin escapes their clenched grasp onto our empty platter our lips pour out praises in gratitude and our feet dance in jubilation.
The echoes ripple through to the far corners of our world and deafen us to the sound of their other hand ransacking our public coffers.
We write songs about them to accompany the flapping of our headdresses and grass skirts on the waipa circle.
We chant tales of their feats in rhythmic unison to the beating of kundu drums. They smile and they wave and they bid us thank you and goodbye.
And we are left yet again with nothing but the withered headdress on our heads, the dried paint and cracked clay on our faces and the broken kundu in our hands.
We repeat the madness at the whisper of a hope in the wind and expect a different result but always find ourselves barefoot in the mud – insane on the dancing ground.
We have become complacent and have accepted chaos and madness as a norm.
We have woven corruption into our culture so we don’t have to look at its ugly face.
We have given up on the fight and made an unconscious decision to join them.
We frown upon their behaviour but continue to teach our children that cheating and lying is acceptable if it is done with pure intentions.
We get thrown out of their shops for being 10 toea short and cheat the local PMV on the way home for 50 toea off the bus fare.
We hold double standards and always whine when we get dished a serving of our own medication.
We are a spoiled generation of takers. We have grown so accustomed to being spoon-fed that we think it is a right.
They have created a broken nation and tricked her into thinking she is independent. They put words in our mouth so it can fall easily upon our ears.
They’ve painted their perspective on our spectacles so it is all we see when we look through the lens.
They’ve turned a hardworking nation into a den of beggars. Then they throw us bones to fight over as they haul away the feast.
Will this vicious cycle ever end?
Can it ever end?
Enough is enough. It is on us to decide. The puppets we have elected will never make that decision for us because it would mean actually caring for those they represent.
They are incapable of making sacrifices of that magnitude – they fear it would mean their strings get cut and that they would crumble and deflate.
As a nation, we must find our own voice. We must break out of this colonial spell and step into the 21st century.
We must no longer choose to be passive. We must no longer choose to be voiceless. We must no longer choose to turn a blind eye to what we know is wrong. We must no longer choose to be ignorant.
We are proud Melanesians. We are proud Papua New Guineans. We are rich – let’s take back what is rightfully ours from the thieves.
We are free – let’s break free from the shackles that they have bound us with for far too long. We are a sovereign nation – let’s take back the reins and chart our own course.
For us to truly take back our nation, we have to stop living in denial.
Every individual has to know their worth and must be an active player in nation building.
It will take a united effort to take back our beloved land.
Let’s show up on the great dancing ground with our unique paintings and dance together to the beat of our own kundu.