The day I met Daniel Kumbon
15 May 2022
| Ples Singsing
PORT MORESBY - As he entered the Ribito Restaurant in Waigani, I recognised him instantly.
He had his bilum Enga hat and his long beard which I had seen on the cover of his books and in pictures.
Daniel and his friend placed their lunch orders and chatted away two tables from me.
I had purchased a copy of all his books from the restaurant some time ago and the staff had informed me that Daniel regularly visited.
I enjoyed his books so much that I frequently visited the restaurant in the hope I would get a chance to meet the famous author.
I finally caught him last Saturday.
As he entered the restaurant, I could hardly contain the excitement of meeting Daniel Kumbon, the famous Papua New Guinean author and journalist.
However, I did not have the courage to approach him for a chat.
I waited for them to finish their meal.
But even after the staff cleared the table I didn’t know how to approach the man who had written seven books.
Then I had an idea. I called over the beautiful female staff member and asked for a help.
After she talked to Daniel, he turned to me and the prominent writer’s eyes met mine.
I walked over to him and introduced myself briefly.
Our conversation shot to the top of Mt Giluwe. We talked like old friends. He was like a father to me.
We talked for a long time. Kumbon was generous to share with me not only his time but two of his best pieces of writing advice.
“Son, write clearly and be brief,” he advised me.
I later confirmed this with an internet source.
Great writers like Shakespeare wrote very simple sentences and wrote clearly and concisely.
“Write in the mornings,” he added. “Your mind is fresh in the mornings, and undisturbed.”
When I said I was writing a novel, he was pleased.
“I’d like to read the first chapter of it,” he said.
But my greatest surprise came when he gave me a copy of his latest book.
“I have been keeping the book for a friend but I will give it to you,” he said.
He immediately left the restaurant to get the book for me.
When he was gone, I was thinking, ‘How could this senior writer do such a huge favour to me, a stranger?’
Daniel, that was a beautiful thing you did for me. I won’t forget that moment.
He returned later with the book, Legend Of The Miok Egg’. He signed his name on the back of the front cover and added a short phrase below his signature: ‘Memories are forever’.
What a beautiful phrase, Daniel. I am still thinking of that phrase. A whole story could be written about it.
Kumbon encouraged me to keep on writing. He said, “Write for those who are not able to write for themselves. Be their voice. Leave something behind for the next generation.”
Before we left, I asked if I could take a selfie with him. I checked my smartphone and was disappointed to learn the battery was flat.
Daniel took out a small Canon camera from his basket and clicked several selfies.
In the afternoon he emailed me the photos.
“The photo quality is not good,” he said in the email, “but don’t worry. It’s still us.”
I emailed him the first chapter of my novel the next day.
He read it and came back with very constructive feedback. His suggestions to improve the manuscript were invaluable.
Daniel is an amazing writer. If you would like to buy a Daniel Kumbon book, check at the Ribito Restaurant at Waigani Central, Port Moresby. Several copies of Daniel’s books are available there.
Daniel, thank you for the chat. You made my day. I went away with beautiful memories.
‘Memories are forever.’
Richard Napam graduated from the University of Papua New Guinea with a Bachelor of Economics in 2016 and is an economist with the Bank of Papua New Guinea. Richard is currently revising my first novel and working on two other novels
Michael, if I am in Port Moresby I will definitely attend the workshop.
Courageous work you and colleagues are doing at Ples Singsing.
Hope to meet Richard and everybody else, and you especially after all these years of knowing you through your world class poetry and commentary on the subject we all love - literature.
Posted by: Daniel Kumbon | 01 June 2022 at 06:37 AM
Hi Daniel - Richard submitted this story, as well as a tribute poem to the late Hon Sam Basil, directly to Ples Singsing and Keith kindly reblogged it in our favourite PNG Attitude.
Ples Singsing has a project-book-magazine-launch and writers workshop on Saturday 11 June, 1 pm to 4 pm at the UPNG Arts Lecture Theatre, and you have been sent an invitation by email.
Richard has confirmed his attendance at the workshop at which, among other things, we will discuss book editing, publishing and distribution, in which he has a vested interest. He is an inspiring young writer.
We are certainly looking forward to your presence on the day and hope you are able to be there.
Posted by: Michael Dom | 30 May 2022 at 10:05 AM
Richard, good capture of our meeting. The story has gone viral. Its been used in Ples Singsing and making the rounds on Facebook.
I'll be in Port Moresby anytime from now. We can meet again at Ribito Restaurant, Waigani Central. I again wish to read that first chapter from your book in progress.
Indeed, memories are forever.
Posted by: Daniel Kumbon | 30 May 2022 at 05:21 AM