In praise of a wide brown land
Transparency signs anti-corruption agreement

Perspectives on building a successful society

Bougainville seascape (Simon Pentanu)


KIETA – It is said that some of the best personal and political successes in life have followed great adversity and disappointment.

How many of us have come to the best of times when the worst of times has taken us to the brink?

I have some personal perspectives on this from the Bougainville contest, where we have individuals, businessmen, political leaders, church leaders and women and youth leaders who have the opportunity to change things for the better.

This is especially so after the region has gone through and dealt with every conceivable problem that could have brought a people to its knees only to genuflect to a Higher Force and refuse to be broken.

Why shouldn’t we make our world a new place, a multiracial, cross-cultural Island of shared benefits and opportunities.

We must grab the opportunities we have with both hands. Let us not squander them, nor the gains we have created. It will involve people from other nationalities alongside Bougainvilleans to rebuild the island. This is what it takes in nation building.

We require resilience to pursue into the future what we know to be true and believe. Resilience means accepting our reality even if the situation is less desirable than that we were in before.

So let us continue to be resilient, a trait that has become an integral part of our ability to extract practical approaches out of a devastating crisis. Resilience always pays.

We must care as a people and care for each other. The government must care and assume responsibility for rebuilding Bougainville in the conventional sense and for its people, particularly the communities that comprise the population.

With caring comes the duty to protect, provided without expecting anything in return and with leaders and public officeholders exuding a clear sense of responsibility for the greater good.

In caring and in our duty of care we must be aware that the greatest threat to Bougainville, and to any society, is not arms or weapons but carelessness giving rise to bad governance.

Bougainville society will be made or unmade by how much attention, commitment, personal and communal care and respect we give to one another and to the land of our birth and upbringing.

Also, by asking ourselves how much of what we say, we practice in reality starting at a personal level.

The perception of other people, other societies and other countries about us is important. Confidence and assurance in what we offer, and how we offer ourselves, are important parts of this perception.

Tourism and travel to Bougainville can give us a good indicator in how we are perceived by the outside world. Law and order in society also ranks high in this regard. So too good investment policies and a safe investment climate. No nation is an island, much less a hermit.

Let us care enough and hold ourselves to the highest accountability starting at the base as individuals and expecting our government to live up to the same virtues and standards.

Let us not just utter or give lip service to good governance. Good governance is the most important standard of measure that will make or break Bougainville.

This responsibility must be borne equally in many respects by the governors and the governed alike.

Let us care about and respect other people. Respect transcends all barriers.

There is a lot going for Bougainville. Politically many of the important aspects of the political journey have been jointly mapped out with the national government.

It was never going to be easy but the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the amendments to the national Constitution gave legal effect and recognition, as well as an imperative, to both sides to tread through this in a careful, considered and measured way.

It can be an example to the rest of the world that, in negotiations thus far, bellicose rhetoric or behaviour have not got in the way.


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