Happy days. Delilah Gore (Sohe), Loujaya Kouza (Lae) and Julie Soso (Eastern Highlands) after their election in 2012. All failed to win re-election in 2017
MICHAEL KABUNI & DANNY AGON
| Academia Nomad
PORT MORESBY – For five days in mid-January, Papua New Guinea’s Registry of Political Parties and Candidates, with the support of donors, ran a mentoring program for aspiring female candidates to contest this year’s national election.
Getting women into parliament is tough in Papua New Guinea.
In the 46 years since independence, there have been only seven women elected to parliament, and only two were re-elected after serving just one term.
Continue reading "Women MPs in PNG: Are men a secret weapon?" »
Pictures exercising in the Pacific, the US Navy V-22B Osprey has vertical and short takeoff and landing capabilities (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mathew Diendorf)
| War on the Rocks | Edited extracts
Link here to Professor Tidwell’s complete and comprehensive essay on the challenges and opportunities facing the US in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. It is also a timely note to Australia, whose own Pacific strategy has become less than clear - KJ
WASHINGTON DC - The United States’ Indo-Pacific coordinator, Kurt Campbell, recently grabbed attention by saying that the US may soon face a “strategic surprise” in the Pacific.
He appears to have had in mind agreements and basing arrangements between Pacific Island countries and China.
Continue reading "Memo USA: Being a better partner in the Pacific" »
Daru boat harbour
WARWICK QLD – Here is more than an interesting fact. This is a concrete reality of potential international importance.
There is no single border in the Torres Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Instead there are four separate and overlapping boundaries: the seabed boundary; the land boundary; the fishing boundary; and the cultural boundary.
Continue reading "Daru - just the place to create a little mischief - Redux" »
Tumai Mumu - a warrior and clan leader of great acumen and, in time and when it suited, assistance to the colonial Administration
NORTHUMBRIA - Tumai Mumu, who featured in PNG Attitude a month ago (‘Pax Australiana: Techniques of Pacification’), was a contradictory character and perhaps an extraordinary opportunist.
He was headman of an important group of the Goilala people and lived in a village immediately behind Tapini government station.
This is where I was when, in 1974 he volunteered to me that in his youth, during an ambush, he had killed 24 men and possibly a greater number of women, he could not sure.
Continue reading "The precision killing of Oulaine Papaite" »
Michael Dom - "Tok Pisin is underestimated and undervalued as an appropriate form of contemporary literary pursuit"
| Ples Singsing
LAE – I am grateful for PNG Attitude’s support of Ples Singsing, a space for Papua Niuginian creativity, most recently by publishing my current series of Tok Pisin essays.
On Friday, Keith Jackson commented on Twitter that the series was also emerging as a history of the development of modern Papua New Guinean literature. This really hit home for me.
Continue reading "Tok Pisin as a language of literature" »
A Kodak Instamatic 104 such as Busa's father might have used as a 1970s street photographer
BUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO
PORT MORESBY – It was only recently that I discovered my father was once a street photographer.
Back in the 1970s, he and some village friends took up the activity as a form of employment, to earn money, to put food on the table.
This was well before modern digital cameras and smart phones made photography simple and ever-present.
Continue reading "From humble street camera to tool for justice" »
The Taurama Cemetery as Terry Edwinsmith found it in 2011 before it was revamped
Boomerang Boy by David Wilson, Take A Leaf Publications, October 2021. Available: Kindle (Amazon Australia) $11.99; Paperback (Waterstones, UK) £20
BRISBANE - The book, 'Boomerang Boy', tells the compelling story of Taurama Barracks Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Frederick Alexander (Fred) Wilson.
This remarkable soldier died suddenly while serving with 1PIR on 27 March 1968 aged 43.
Continue reading "Fred Wilson: The boomerang boy of 1PIR" »
Illegal logging comprises 70% of PNG's timber industry
NOOSA – It is easily the biggest illegal land grab of customary land in Papua New Guinea.
Or maybe anywhere in the world outside what used to be called Communism before they discovered how much loot could be made out of Capitalism.
It is a mass theft encompassing more than five million hectares of land, 12% of the country.
Continue reading "Marape's cronies plunder illegal leases" »
ADELAIDE – Land administration and corruption are major and related issues in Papua New Guinea.
They are also long-term and well-recognised issues, and a source of immense hardship especially in terms of their impact on the lack of affordable housing in urban PNG.
Squatting on vacant land is not just a practice of the underclass, it is something even middle class Papua New Guineans are compelled to do because of a public policy debacle neither PNG authorities nor their Australian advisers seem able or willing to address.
Continue reading "Rort the system & make a few million" »
Joseph Henry (Harry) Roach
3 March 1938 - 22 January 2022
The livestream of Harry’s funeral at Tewantin tomorrow (Friday) will start at 10 am AEST. This is 10.30 am in South Australia, 11 am in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania and 8 am in Western Australia. The direct link to the stream is https://view.oneroomstreaming.com/authorise.php?k=1643035259162131
| East Asia Forum
CANBERRA - Papua New Guinea's national elections are approaching, with the voting period set to be held from 11-24 June.
Elections are held every five years and are very popular events. Although voting is voluntary, the turnout of voters is just below that of Australia, where voting is compulsory.
Continue reading "Election a'coming, & the going ain't easy" »
| Ples Singsing - A Space for
Papua Niuginian Creativity
Vernacular Traces in the Crocodile Prize:
Part 3 of an essay in five parts
ENGLISH TRANSLATION BY ED BRUMBY | TOK PISIN ORIGINAL FOLLOWS
LAE - When the 2014 Crocodile Prize national literary awards was announced (organised again by Keith Jackson and Phil Fitzpatrick), writers contributed many entries – the 497page Anthology surpassed the 2012 Anthology by 122 pages.
Continue reading "Let the writers of PNG rise again" »
Peter Comerford amidst the ruins of Panguna, from which he was forced to flee in 1990. An author who has seen the best and the worst of things, but this charming children's book is a delight all round
A Survival Story of Michael and Natlik by Peter Comerford, Austin Macauley Publishers, 2022, 146 pages. Available here from Booktopia in Australia, $18.95 paperback, $7.15 ebook
TUMBY BAY - I don’t remember when I learned to read. I know it was before I started school so I must have been fairly young.
I clearly remember a book based on the 1953 Walt Disney film of JM Barrie’s 1904 West End play Peter Pan or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up. I would have been five at the time.
Continue reading "An adventure yarn for a child of any age" »
Harry Roach, Otto Alder and Betty Roach at a kiap's reunion in 2009
NOOSA – On Friday, they’ll bury Harry Roach in the pretty country graveyard at Cooroy.
Cooroy, 20 kilometres inland from Noosa, had been his and Betty’s home pretty much since they left Papua New Guinea just before independence in 1975.
You’ll have to tolerate my vagueness because, for a man who did so much, knew so many and seemed a permanent fixture anywhere he was, Harry didn’t leave behind too many tracks.
Continue reading "Death of Harry Roach - a man for all seasons" »
CAIRNS – Chris Overland comments that “we collectively ought to have sufficient insight and humility to accept that we have an obligation to help out those who live in 'shithole' countries….
“Not merely through charity, but by a conscious, systemic and systematic effort to help them reach their true socio-economic potential.”
I agree entirely with this evaluation. The bit that sticks in my craw is the inequity that exists at such a deeply disturbing level.
Continue reading "The bells toll for us: But will we wake to them?" »
ADELAIDE – China knows that money talks and has acted accordingly.
This is a shrewd strategy as well as making long term economic sense.
Meanwhile, in the USA, the division, disputation and denunciation between the only two political parties that matter continue unabated.
Continue reading "Money may talk but good strategy roars" »
You see dried grass over rough cut logs
And the earth floor of my house
When I open my home to you
And you think to yourself how you can help me.
I smelled the air that morning we cut the kunai grass
And I heard the children laughing as they played
On the green knoll beside us
And I tasted the sweet sour sweat
As we hewed the living trees to earth.
I felt the heat of day and the burning flames
As this house was dried and bound
By light of bright blue day above
And in the deepest dark of night.
Continue reading "You see dried grass over rough cut logs" »
Port of Lae - set to become a regional container hub as Australia fends off Chinese influence.
NOOSA - The Australian government has announced it will provide K1.5 billion in loans and grants to Papua New Guinea to upgrade its ports facilities.
Australia says the funds will strengthen trade ties between the two countries and encourage PNG to decline investment from other nations including China.
Continue reading "Australia fends off China with K1.5b for ports" »
The late Grand Chief Michael Somare, who led PNG to independence, farewells his comrade Bernard Narokobi, who nurtured the flame of Melanesian identity, Wewak, March 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE - I got to know Bernard Narokobi while doing research for my dissertation in linguistics in his home village of Wautogik in the late 1990s.
While the old people there taught me about the language, Bernard taught me that I was participating in a knowledge exchange.
Just as his son Vergil had gone to study at Cambridge University, I had come to study at the University of Melanesia.
Continue reading "Yes friends, there is a Melanesian Way" »
| Ples Singsing
In loving memory of Green Eggs & Ham by Dr Seuss
I do not like vomit flavoured ice cream
Vomit flavour is not in my dreams
And if I were to taste it I think I would scream
Please don’t count me on your vomit-flavour team
Many other people dislike it too
But I’m sure there’s someone and maybe it’s you
Who likes vomit flavoured ice cream
And maybe you dream and scream for it too
Continue reading "Vomit Flavoured Ice Cream" »
'Noken Simuk - Smoking forbidden. Leave the matchbox and inflammable matches inside the box' (Robert Eklund)
CRAIG ALAN VOLKER
| Edited & updated
First published in The National, February 2018
PORT MORESBY – All of us probably remember dictionaries from when we were at school.
They had a long list of English words and explained them in English. This is a monolingual dictionary. Words and explanations in the same language.
Continue reading "Making a dictionary for your own language" »
Harry (right) with former Sunshine Coast mayor Bob Abbot. Considering Harry's ubiquity and his reputation for having a finger in every pie, strangely this is the best pic we were able to find at short notice. Looks like ONGU operatives were at work
Harry Roach died this afternoon bringing to an end an illustrious career as a Papua New Guinea kiap, a Cooroy property salesman and a Noosa shire councillor. He was known wherever he went as a can-do man, a thoroughgoing professional, a solid citizen and an inveterate prankster. Life with Harry could be eye-popping, hair-raising and mind-blowing, but the saga of ONGU was perhaps his greatest accomplishment – a true tour de farce - KJ
AITAPE - There was very little to occupy the ever-enquiring minds of the people who lived and worked in the many and varied outstations of the Sepik District in the mid 1960's.
And so it was with those who filled the various government and private occupations on the small Aitape outstation at the time.
Continue reading "Adieu Harry, it was good. May ONGU travel with you" »
Daru's New Century Hotel and street market - doubtless the mud-puddlers have fond memories of sinking the odd stubby here (Mark O'Shea)
TUMBY BAY - There’s a loose and exotic fraternity of expatriate mud-puddlers who served in the Western Province who exchange occasional emails when something of interest about their old stamping ground surfaces in the media.
A recent report in the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier about a development plan for Daru, the provincial capital, is currently stirring their interest.
Continue reading "Remote Daru could be a regional flashpoint" »
CAIRNS – I was particularly struck by the recent observations of Dr Chris McCall and author Nick Brown (in Phil Fitzpatrick’s review of his latest book).
Their observations of discovering some of life's grim realities provided by salient insights into the shallow ignorance of what former US president Donald Trump contemptuously referred to as “shithole countries”.
Continue reading "Those valuable insights beyond ‘shithole country’" »
“I know there's a self-publishing alternative available, but for Luddites such as me that sort of technology stuff would be beyond my comprehension. And how good would those volumes look compared to books prepared by a professional printer” – Richard E Jones
TUMBY BAY – For writers who cannot or don't want to use a major publisher, there are three options available to get your book printed and in front of readers.
Traditional publishers are in the business of making money and – the costs of editing, design, printing and distribution being significant - are very careful about what they publish.
Continue reading "Authors benefit from a publishing revolution" »
Beach scene on Mahur Island (Schneider Photography)
SUSAN R HEMER
Tracing the Melanesian Person: Emotions and Relationships in Lihir by Susan R Helmer, University of Adelaide Press, Adelaide, 2013, 329 pages. ISBN 978-1-922064-45-5. Free download here
KEITH JACKSON WRITES - Dr Susan Hemer lectures in development studies and medical and psychological anthropology at the University of Adelaide and her book, Tracing the Melanesian Person, resulted from a year spent in the Lihir group of islands in Papua New Guinea.
The incident it tells of occurred in May 1998 when Hemer was about halfway through her doctoral fieldwork in Mahur, the northernmost of Lihir.
Continue reading "Tripping to Tabar & the mystery of Mahur" »
Sharon Davis - "With our traditional languages stolen, along with our land, we took the way the gudiya talked and decolonised it"
“If you attack my language you attack me, because what I am and what I know and believe and feel are all mediated through language” – Jack Dwyer
CANBERRA - Self-proclaimed 'citizen journalist', social media 'personality', and convicted abuser of women, Avi Yemini, tweeted a video of Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan sending a vaccination message to Western Australian Aboriginal communities that was also translated into Aboriginal English (AbE) by Aboriginal Interpreting WA.
Continue reading "Aboriginal English – what isn’t it?" »
Nick Brown discovers there's more to the world than himself, but finds he can't fix the corruption and the squalor
The Value of Journey: Virtue and reality in Papua New Guinea and Asia by Nicholas C Brown, Mereo Books, Cirencester UK, 2021, 332 pages with illustrations. ISBN 9781861513212. Available here from Amazon Australia, AU$22
TUMBY BAY – Nick Brown's The Value of Journey follows directly from his first book, Better than Rich and Famous, the transition so flawless you could move from one to the other and not notice the physical change.
Continue reading "A journey into reflection, insight & ennui" »
Michelle Rooney's mother, Nahau, spearheaded the role of women in PNG politics - a tough task at the best of times
MELBOURNE – Michelle Nayahamui Rooney – a dual Papua New Guinea-Australia citizen of Manus heritage – is one of 10 shortlisted writers in contention for the 2022 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship.
The annual award is given by Writers Victoria to an Australian writer for a proposed work of biography.
Dr Rooney is a research fellow at the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University, a unit that researches and analyses Australian aid and global development with a focus on Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.
Continue reading "Michele Rooney short-listed for book award" »
SYED MUNIR KHASRU
| South China Morning Post
DHAKA - Beijing understands that economic security created through trade is more enduring than when done through military superiority.
China has deepened ties with Singapore, signing 14 new deals at an annual bilateral cooperation meeting held on 29 December.
Continue reading "China is outfoxing US in the Indo-Pacific" »
Illustration by Kal (The Economist)
TUMBY BAY - Hang on, what’s up? The world wasn’t supposed to turn into custard until my generation was safely six foot under.
As Stan Grant eloquently put it, “We are miserable, getting poorer, afflicted with disease, on the verge of blowing ourselves to smithereens and facing a climate catastrophe”.
Continue reading "Sick, crippled & besieged by con artists" »
Lining up for clinic at a rural hospital in PNG (Chris McCall)
| The Lancet
INNISFAIL, QLD - The Covid-19 pandemic in Papua New Guinea shows no sign of ending, and its worst legacy might be its effect on other diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. Chris McCall reports.
Among wooden huts overlooking a broad, muddy river, volunteer Arnolio Palima detects and treats four to five cases of malaria a month in his village of Mipan using rapid tests and boxes of Mala-One, a combination of the anti-malaria drugs artemether and lumefantrine.
Continue reading "Covid mixes it with other threats in PNG" »
ADELAIDE - The article by Baka Bina, ‘The Taxing Art of Translation’, has recently stimulated much comment and discussion in PNG Attitude.
Accomplished writers like Michael Dom, Daniel Kumbon, Phil Fitzpatrick and others have offered their own insights and perspectives on the problems inherent in translating Tok Pisin into English.
Continue reading "Tok Pisin: A language on history's march" »
Bernard Narokobi when Attorney-General in 1991. A political and jurisprudential philosopher of great seriousness and stature (Pacific Islands Monthly)
NEW YORK - Bernard Narokobi, who died in March 2010 at the age of 72 after a short illness, was a political and jurisprudential philosopher of great seriousness and stature. That makes my memories of his irrepressible irreverence especially sweet.
One such memory: Bernard taking his afternoon nap on the wall to wall carpeting of the Law Reform Commission’s way too elegant offices.
Continue reading "Narokobi: The man who knew what might have been" »
Dr John Gerrard's extraordinary words - "Not only is the spread of this virus inevitable, it is necessary”
NOOSA – This week Queensland recorded its deadliest two days of the Covid pandemic so far
Nine deaths and 38,500 new cases of the virus. Nearly 600 diseased people, 40 of them in intensive care, straining the hospital system to its limit.
Chief health officer Dr John Gerrard says all the dead had “significant underlying medical conditions”. It sounded like an excuse. I’ll come back to that in a moment.
Continue reading "How Queensland surrendered its people to Covid" »
BUSA JEREMIAH WENOGO
PORT MORESBY - As the nation gears up for national elections in April, pundits and analysts are beginning to argue about the outcome.
However, the historical trend seems to tell us that the winners and losers have already been decided.
Just think about it, when was the last time Papua New Guinea experienced a truly fair and free election?
It was probably during the formative years after independence. Maybe not even then.
Continue reading "Different kind of election? I’m not holding my breath" »
Miranda Forsyth - "We do better to view police in a clear-eyed fashion for both their strengths and their weaknesses"
| DevPolicy Blog
CANBERRA - Police in Papua New Guinea generally cop a fair share of criticism.
This is particularly true in my area of research, sorcery accusation related violence (SARV), where police are often unwilling or unable to intervene – and sometimes even the instigators of violence.
Continue reading "Let’s be more objective about our police" »
Michael Dom - Papua New Guinea's unofficial poet laureate writes on the topsy-turvy ride that is indigenous literature
| Ples Singsing - A Space for Papua Niuginian Creativity
| Vernacular Traces in the Crocodile Prize: Part 2 of an essay in five parts
English translation by Ed Brumby | Tok Pisin original follows
LAE - When the Crocodile Prize began in 2011, the first poet to write in his mother tongue was Jimmy Drekore, who provided an English translation for his Dinga poem, ‘Advice from a Warrior’.
Wana elge pikra / Son don’t go too far
bi panamia, kanre pa / there’ll be ambush, careful you don’t push
Nenma unawa kanre, Kuman meklanna / When your fathers are here, you’ll step closer
Nene hone pikra / Never go alone
Continue reading "A pity so few of our poems come in translation" »
The truth does not belong to you, my dear,
It lives and breathes inside us all. And what
You say is yours to speak, for which you dare
Force us to share, when a fraction of it
Does not compute the sum of nor compare
To the fullness of life, where each remits
The pain of being. If truth exists, we bear
The weight, we each, so if each one is fit
Be wary of your words, your vice declares
Itself in the nature of being. Know that.
But say the wise, just speak your truth, no fear,
We shall force the mathematics to fit.
God is dead. Truth is whatever you care,
The truth we speak need not care about that.
A postage stamp showing the spectacular Wawoi Falls in the Kikori River Basin which is on the tentative heritage list area. Unfortunately logging has now extended right up to the falls
ADELAIDE – I have to thank Chris Warrillow for correcting me as to the location of Sir Hubert Murray’s gravesite.
He saved me a frustrating visit to Bomana on my next trip to Papua New Guinea.
I’ll go to Badihagwa instead, bearing a K5 tradestore sarif to cut the grass.
Continue reading "Buy a sarif, there’s a heritage to protect" »
| The Asia and the Pacific Society
PORT MORESBY - Policymakers in the Pacific Islands face multifaceted security issues, a fact that is not lost on the region’s leaders.
This was demonstrated in the 2018 Boe Declaration on Regional Security, which expanded the definition of security beyond geostrategic concerns to human security.
Continue reading "Many threats surround PNG’s coming election" »
Yamin Kogoya - "Papuans have been dislocated from the centre of their cultural worldview and placed on the fringes of the grand colonial narrative"
CANBERRA - The colonial notion of ‘civilising primitive Papuans’ has distorted Papuan perceptions of the world and themselves.
This distortion began with how New Guinea and its people were described in early colonial literature: unintelligent pygmies, cannibals and pagan savages – people devoid of value.
Not only did this depiction foster a racist outlook but it misrepresented reality as it was experienced and understood by Papuans for thousands of years.
Continue reading "Capturing the mind: Anatomy of a Papuan genocide" »
Sir Hubert Murray's headstone at Badihagwa Cemetery - a great administrator who preferred to be on patrol rather than in Port Moresby
This is an edited version of a story published in Una Voce (now PNG Kundu), the journal of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia, on 16 September 2015
MELBOURNE - My first interest in the old ‘European Cemetery’ at Badihagwa dates back to the late 1980s.
At that time, with my friend and fellow former kiap, Dave Henton, I decided to find the grave of Papua’s former Lieutenant Governor, Sir John Hubert Plunkett (‘Judge’) Murray (1861-1940).
Continue reading "The saga of Judge Murray's grave" »
Baka Bina - "Translation is really hard work, very taxing on the mind"
PORT MORESBY - I recently submitted a short story of mine to the Commonwealth Writers competition. It was written in Tok Pisin and I had translated it into English.
Ino long taim igo pinis, mi salim wanpela hap stori igo long Komonwelt Raitin Resis long ples bilong Misis Kwin. Mi raitim dispela stori long Tok Pisin na bihain mi mekim wok tanim tok na putim dispela stori ken long Tok Ingis.
I wrote it in Tok Pisin first then, paragraph by paragraph, rewrote it in English, trying to stick to the meaning as best I could.
Continue reading "The taxing art of translation" »
A Hela gang - law enforcement lacks integrity and capability (Michael Main)
PORT MORESBY - In 2020 and 2021, Papua New Guinea faced serious security challenges on many fronts, including Covid-19, cyberattacks and tribal fights.
Many people in PNG do not see Covid as a security risk, as evidenced in the high level of vaccines hesitancy in the country.
Continue reading "A place of high threat & ineffective response" »
Covid Ward, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
| You can link to the OzSAGE website here
NOOSA – OzSAGE is an independent network of Australian health experts formed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘Independent’ in this context means that OzSAGE is beyond the grip of politicians, health bureaucrats and others who have demonstrated great incompetence in managing the pandemic and also repeatedly failed to tell the Australian people the full truth about Covid and its effects.
Continue reading "Pandemic: The truths they won’t tell you" »
Michael Dom - "The success of the Crocodile Prize helped to develop our country’s literature"
| Vernacular Traces in the Crocodile Prize:
| Part 1 of an essay in five parts
English translation by Ed Brumby | Tok Pisin original follows
LAE - In 2010, Keith Jackson AM and Philip Fitzpatrick came up with the idea of establishing a national literary competition in Papua New Guinea – the Crocodile Prize.
Writing on Keith’s website, PNG Attitude, some of us supported their idea. In recognition, I gave them the name, ‘Grand Pukpuk’.
By way of background, these two men lived a long while in PNG in pre-independence times: the time of the patrol officers.
Continue reading "PNG writing: Stop reminiscing. Start again" »
During the year Big Pat turned right instead of left and ended up at Fatima Secondary School in Banz
PATRICK (BIG PAT) LEVO
| Papua New Guinea Post-Courier
PORT MORESBY - In all of the meandering years in the life of Papua New Guinea, 2021 had to be the big meander.
The colours were there, the love and laughter were there, the sadness, emotion, losses, highs and lows, the bleakness of our long-suffering population and blackness of ethereal poor governance were all intertwined to make 2021 stand out.
Continue reading "Bleak & black year shook Land of the Respected" »
ADELAIDE - Robert Forster’s recent article on the pacification of the Goilala region set me thinking about why the imposition of Pax Australiana in Papua New Guinea was so strikingly different to the colonial processes followed in South America, Africa and South East Asia.
By way of context, readers need to understand that European imperialism was almost invariably imposed by force, often with catastrophic results for the indigenous population involved.
Continue reading "Pax Australiana: A most peaceful colonisation" »
TUMBY BAY - I noticed Keith recently removed from the blog and put under review a caption on a photograph the accuracy of which had been challenged by a reader.
Keith engaged with the author of the story, asking whether he could confirm the veracity of his information.
Continue reading "The difficult art of bad writing" »