| First published in PNG Attitude on 16 September 2019
In 2019, James Marape replaced Peter O’Neill as prime minister and briefly the nation breathed a sigh of relief that better days were to come. Francis Nii reflected upon the change of mood. The great author was to die before the disappointment set in
KUNDIAWA - In the last eight years, when other Papua New Guineans celebrated their country’s independence anniversary on 16 September each year, to me it was just like any other day.
I didn’t feel anything special about the occasion. Independence was meaningless and unimportant to me.
Although 2016 had been a special year, in that I spent one week in Australia and attended the Brisbane Writers Festival, and in 2018, PNG hosted the historic APEC meeting in Port Moresby, when it came to 16 September there wasn’t any special feeling in me.
I didn’t know why and there was no urge in me to bother about it.
But yesterday on the eve of the 44th Independence anniversary, as I sat in my favourite spot under the mango tree in front of the gate at Sir Joseph Nombri Memorial Hospital in Kundiawa and watched young and old passers-by attired in the national colours of red, black, white and gold, I felt an urge to have a cold SP export lager that has the rare beautiful bird of paradise on the label.
I don’t like drinking this beer. Whenever I feel like drinking, the SP brown stubby is my favourite. But yesterday, I felt very much compelled to drink the beer that has the national bird, the Raggiana, on it.
So I sent a young man to TNA Coffee Shop and he brought me back two SP export lagers.
I opened the beer with a loud popping noise, punched the air, gave myself with a happy Independence greeting and gulped the beer.
It was around midday and the cold beer tasted refreshing in the sweltering heat.
All the significant events of the past seven years streamed vividly through my mind.
Surprisingly, my thoughts swarmed with more bad things than good.
Of prominence were Peter O’Neill’s unconstitutional thieving of power from Michael Somare, O’Neill’s disbandment and elimination of the champion corruption fighter Investigative Task Force Sweep, and O’Neill’s arrest warrant saga involving the infamous Paul Paraka case that never saw the light of justice
Then there was O’Neill’s scandalous signing of the UBS loan after villainously sacking Don Polye and replacing him as finance minister, the indiscriminate shooting of protesting university students by police, O’Neill’s people of the Southern Highlands malicious burning of an Air Niugini Dash 8, and the agony and hardship of earning money to pay for basic necessities and much more.
As the reminiscences wound towards their end, I felt a kind of joy I had never felt in those eight long years. It flooded my mind.
Then it dawned on me that I had good reason to celebrate this independence anniversary.
The long and difficult war against greed, selfishness, power-hunger serial lies, tyranny, extreme corruption, venally-motivated education and health policies and a foreign debt driven economy had finally come to an end.
Victory is at hand for our motherland, which is often described as a poverty stricken shithole.
I feel that this description can now change for the better.
The welfare and future of my children and their children are in safer hands.
Not only my children but every other child.
Including those of well-to-do parents, orphans, the disabled, the can collectors on the streets and so many others are in the hands of the visionary, passionate and patriotic James Marape, a leader who we can look upon as saviour and a beacon of hope for a prosperous PNG.
I started celebrating yesterday and I will finish it off today, 16 September 2019. God bless PNG.