A Pacific of small island states is no fantasy
15 August 2022
Very few Pacific islands would opt for their current status if offered a choice to return to their pre-colonial lives. This could be more than a post-modern fantasy
CAIRNS - If you look at history through a Bougainvillean lens, independence is obvious and non-negotiable.
But the same sentiment applies to practically every other island group in the Pacific region.
Prior to European colonisation every island was an independent entity unto itself.
And today I would venture that very few would opt for their current status if offered a choice to return to their pre-colonial lives.
It seems to me that such a return is not entirely in the realm of fantasy.
It would replace the artificially cobbled together post-colonial nation states that bear little or no relationship to traditional genealogical, language or geographic fealty.
It would become a loose federation of self-governed mini-states under an umbrella organisation not unlike the European parliament and the European central bank.
And it would exist under a charter of strict non-alignment with the broader world and an iron clad resolve to control access and preserve land, waters culture, language and way of life.
For those who seek the brighter lights, the rest of the world is open for them to pursue whatever dreams they may have.
Under current arrangements, what I fear most for the region is the slow and inexorable erosion of culture and environment, and the stripping away of resources we are witnessing now.
The current situation was never in the interest of Pacific peoples and it never will be.
The regional failure to provide basic services to burgeoning populations coupled with the gross inequity that is the result of the neo-capitalist model is poison for Pacific communities and Pacific nations.
In my view they could all do much worse than take back their traditional independence and exclude much of what is toxic from the outside world.
The problem we face in PNG is that people from the highlands region have become dominant and have migrated to coastal towns and cities and illegally settled on both state and traditional lands.
This has changed local dynamics, cultures, behaviours and taken away business and employment opportunities and is causing a lot of hatred among coastal people that is igniting the call for greater autonomy by provinces.
The New Guinea Islands region always wanted to break away prior to independence and are still talking about it today.
Talk among Papuan is growing with the Papua Besena movement.
The PNG government needs to seriously address the mass migration of Highlanders into coastal provinces taking over and ruining their ethnic identities, bringing along aggressive behaviour and disrespecting indigenous culture.
This will lead to a greater desire for provinces to break away.
Posted by: Wills Motz | 21 August 2022 at 09:01 AM
It is probably too late now.
Should these islands become nations I wonder if they will ever celebrate their 50th or 75th anniversary.
If we believe climate change/global warming theory most of these islands are likely to disappear from rising sea level in under a century.
It would be better for them to maintain strong link to a large land mass and start slow migration. in the next 20 to 50 years.
China will not be the land these islanders are likely to migrate to.
Posted by: Kindin Ongugo | 17 August 2022 at 09:20 AM