Crocodile Prize 2015 Feed

How Francis Nii became an editor & publisher


KUNDIAWA - The 2014 Crocodile Prize awards were held at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby in September, as they had been for the previous three years.

President of the Simbu Writers Association, Jimmy Drekore, was there, and so was Francis Nii, who had won the award for essays the year before, Roslyn Tony, Mathias Kin, Jimmy Awagl and me.

It was quite a representation from SWA, in Simbu colours too.

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Crocodile Prize winners come from across PNG


WRITERS from seven provinces feature in the nine prizes awarded in this year’s Crocodile Prize – Papua New Guinea’s national literary awards.

And one of the winners, 20-year old medical student Hazel Kutkue, not only won the Martens’ Award for Young Writers but the national short story prize – a prodigious achievement at such an early age and against some very stiff competition.

The Ok Tedi Mining Award for Book of the Year saw Baka Bina’s Man of Calibre triumph in a strong field of 10 contenders while the inaugural SP Brewery Award for Illustration went to another Eastern Highlander, Emmanuel Landu, brother of two-time Crocodile Prize winner, poet Lapieh Landu.

Other provinces represented in the prize winners are Enga, Simbu, Milne Bay, Morobe, Madang and the National Capital District.

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Story of a little jewel


It fell from heaven
Slipped from the hands of the gods
But didn’t land on the floor
It was too precious to be smashed
The angels caught it

They told Wilhelm
The king of the land
To treasure it
To embrace it
For it belonged to the gods

King Wilhelm was proud
He wore it as his necklace
To show the world
This gift from the gods
This precious little jewel

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It takes two things for employment


A paper with a college stamp
A bachelor’s degree
Attractive curriculum vitae,
Yet it is not enough for a corporate job
Although he is a Papua New Guinean by birth
He needs two more things to qualify
A wantok in the office or bel kol money
No wantok, no bel kol money
And Petrus is a uni graduate and full time street youth

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Ekio Taitaito – an introduction to the moon


IN the Telei language ekio is the word for ‘moon’ and it is bonded with an initiation known as ekio taitaito, which is performed to new babies aged between three and four months.

It is the official introduction of the moon to the baby.

It is the tradition of the Buin people to never carry newborn babies in the moonlight, whether it’s a full moon or not. Babies are kept indoors and they are not allowed to see the moon.

If, due to something important, the mother takes her baby out she must cover herself and the baby with a laplap, making sure no moonlight shines onto her child’s body.

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Minai & Mwat ti-Koniu - a tale from Rambutso in Manus


THIS is a story from the days when warfare was prominent amongst the tribes and the people were still using Stone Age tools. It took place at M’brunai on Rambutso, south-east of Manus Island.

There lived an old widow named Koniu. She was barren throughout life.

Growing old without children was her greatest regret as there was no one who could help her with gardening, fishing or house chores. She grew old with the desire to have a child, believing in the impossible even after she was beyond child bearing age.

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My clan, my custom


I called her Ina (mother) even though she is my aunt
My uncle is my dad (papa)
My father’s big brothers are my (mamu) grandfathers
My father’s elder sisters are my (Sasi) grandmothers
In my father’s house my aunty is has the power
She can curse and she can bestow blessing to us
Unless she renounce her curse upon me
I will live with the curse till death

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Forgive and forget


IN 2008, up in the lands of the Womkama in the northern part of Simbu Province, lived beautiful lass Tolshi and handsome young man Niman.

Tolshi was in Grade 7 at Womatne Primary School and Niman was in Grade 9 at Mt Wilhelm High School.

Tolshi and Niman had developed a solid relationship. They were getting along well.

After some months Tolshi became pregnant and was expelled from school. Her parents were unhappy that their daughter’s education had ended prematurely.

“Who is the man who impregnated you?” Tolshi’s father asked her in fury.

“It’s Niman, the boy from the next village who is doing Grade 9 at Mt Wilhelm High School,” Tolshi replied with her head down.

“You have spoiled your education and yourself. Since you love him more than education, you have no choice but to marry him.”

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The Takuan beauty of Lake Loloru


BOUGAINVILLE is blessed with natural resources that are scarcely found elsewhere, from its evergreen forests to the white sandy beaches.

These blessings are potential tourist attractions in paradise, however they are virtually unknown apart from by the local people.

Roughly a 2 to 3 day walk from my place, Piano in Buin, lays the mighty Lake Loloru. The lake is situated on the border of Central and South Bougainville, between Kieta and Buin.

The scientific explanation for the crescent shaped lake is that it was formed from the crater of an old dormant volcano, however our ancestors have their own beliefs about the Loloru’s existence.

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Madang’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’ cave – straight from the movie


A faint squeak emanated from the overgrowth. Through the drooping bush vines and some thick scrub I could see a dark slit within the mountain of rocks.

An alluvial trench revealed the waterless path of a stream originating from somewhere within the rocks. We followed the bed of the stream as a bush track and, as we got closer, the slit turned into the bigger opening of a cave.

This was the famous scene from the Robinson Crusoe movie shot in Madang. The spot where Robinson Crusoe popped up to save his native friend, Friday, from cannibalism.

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Consultants or conmen depends
On experience and knowledge one lends
Never entertain those without track records
Surely you’ll fall victim paying them handsome rewards
Unless you’re fully conscious
Law will catch up with any fuss
Test their validity
And prove their product’s originality
Not merely on paper
Though looks good proper
Status is their past performance

Wished I told you mom

Mother and son, Mt HagenABNER YALU

Wished I told you mom just once,
I fed off your spiritual bounce,
you brought me thus far,
with no money but Faith and fire,
and your favorite digging stick of course,
on which countless kaukau mounds,
sprung endless food abound,
and, more so often than others,
a motherly whack or fatherly two,
just so the naughtier in me found true,
pain came to those hambag-inclined.

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I can only wish


I left my homeland to see the big city lights where people were educated and made rational decisions,
I got on the plane and travelled millions of miles in search of that one thing I am in dire need of,
My first night in the city was an awesome experience seeing people driving expensive cars on roads that were smooth like glass,
I thought to myself, this is what we call civilisation, independence and living in harmony, oh how I am thrilled to live here forever.

But then, something struck me so hard I couldn’t breathe, an overwhelming sadness
I thought of my people in my village, struggling every day,
walking and running, crossing flooding rivers and slippery mountains
in search of someone to help heal the sick child or the mother in labour whose child died in her tummy.

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Papua New Guinea’s ninth prime minister


Born at a time
When ethnic clash was at its peak
When black was black and inferior
And white was the color of Superiority
Coloured was the centre of everyone’s attention
Even though it was not of my making
Who could have said my journey was going to be easy
Being coloured was as a minority back then
As it is a majority today
I believed my birth was not a mistake

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Keng gele – the ancient first born initiation of the Nagovis


MANY parts of the traditional culture of Nagovis in Bougainville are slowly being lost including the initiation of the first born child, known as Keng gele in the Sibe language.

The last time Keng gele was practiced in from my own village was in the mid-1970s, when my first cousin from my mother’s side became the last to be initiated.

In writing this story I hope I can preserve this idea tradition for future generations who might not have an opportunity to witness our heritage.

Keng gele is performed on people who hold the clan chieftainship and the hierarchy of kinship sees the title of chief passed down to the first born daughter of the family.

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Hints for starting lane


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

Girls: Beware of cobras, their venom will turn your beauty to history
Boys: Beware of bilums, your little life will change forever
Girls: If you wish to fall, fall in his arms not on his feet
Boys: If you wish to start, start with the contents not the context
Girls: His charms are fire alarms unless you wear red
Boys: Her seduction is a tale of ruined history never think with the little head
Girls: Real man are real man come with comp pack not six pack
Boys: Real woman are real woman not the ones on the selves
Girls: Comp pack = complete package
Boys: Real woman = don’t display
Girls: Only way to find out = time
Boys: Only way to find out = time 

A new system to promote good governance & fight corruption


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

MANY people hold the  view that, if it wasn’t for the judiciary and non-government agencies like the churches, Papua New Guinea would have long become a failed state due to systemic corruption at all levels of government.

Recently, Education Minister Nick Kuman shocked the nation by revealing that K50 million under the government’s free school fee policy was stolen by fraudsters because education officers were not doing their jobs of accounting for money received by schools.

Kuman said the education officials didn’t ensure that enrolment figures complied with the actual student populations in schools. In one province, which he did not name, the 2015 enrolment was inflated by 18,000 students – in order to get more funds.

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A brother in need


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

THERE was a slight tap on my shoulder and I turned around. “Brother, I’m going. I’ll see you,” he said.

I could tell he needed something more than a mere, “OK, ketz, brother, will see you tomorrow.”

To see someone drop so low was heart-breaking. Julius was a great man and colleague. When I left Port Moresby and went to live in Madang for a year I had no idea what would happen.

But when I returned the fun loving person I knew had changed. He was still friendly but looked sloppy and careless.

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Land of beauty, I can boast, my only home


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

My Papua New Guinea, land of beauty,
is meek, unique and impeccably suits me.
From the grassy wetlands where birds roam free,
to the humid jungles packed with trees.
From the priceless chills of the mountainous highlands
to the thermal coasts with sun-bleached sands.

Continue reading "Land of beauty, I can boast, my only home" »

The West Papuan struggle


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

Pangs of vanity infest man again
The other half of man’s face is revealed duly.

Murder by blind ambitions;
death shrouded by a false noble cause.

Desire of false liberation; liberty is yours!
The man strives for betterment but life is no different;

Struggles, work and death are eminent.
For what then do the men in the West struggle for?

What then is the price of a flag; a title; independence?
An early death?

Costly revenge


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

THEY say that when a woman marries she leaves her parents to be joined with her husband in sickness and in health till death do them part. They become one in mind and in soul, hearts joined.

So damn true these words, I pondered tearfully as I sat on the cold cement floor. Grey brick walls, a small cell reeking of urine, stale air drifting in through a tiny grilled space near the roof, the only way out a heavy iron door bolted in place.

My head ached terribly, my tears flowed uncontrollably, the pain in my heart pressed against my lungs, I felt I would choke.

“Why did I do it, why did my anger get the better of me, why, why?”

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Rapture rules: Poor media access undermines PNG democracy


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

I received a text message from a relative in the village which read, “The last days is here, the prime minister Peter O’Neil has authorised the triple six by signing a memorandum of understanding with Vodaphone to have everyone under the control”.

As a journalist I can easily spot misinformation and speculation. My relative’s opinion was based on rumour. The (“number of the beast”, 666 (from Revelation 13:16-18), is an age-old human superstition suggesting that the Rapture is imminent.

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Emotionally famished

Marlene Potoura and newspaperMARLENE DEE GRAY POTOURA

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

AUNT a hypocrite. Court case sucks. Well....

The head ache started at 7 am today. Right on time.

Lately, everything has been really screwed. Now, the head throbbing was doing weird things to me.

Like a hen to the slaughter, I dressed and got into my car, with a litre bottle of Scotch whisky under the driver’s seat.

Aunt came out of the rat infested shack we called our home and, like a loudhailer, asked where I was going.

Out, I said.

Let me pray for you, she said, and walked over to my Mitsubishi.

Darn, with the rolled tobacco in your mouth, I thought.

Her right hand held the tobacco and a loud prayer of forgiveness was said on my behalf, followed by a song that ended the prayer.

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Maoro Turana

The hazards of PNG roadsCLIVE HAWIGEN

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Government Award for Short Stories

“COME on Maoro Turana, you can do this, take us home safely,” ToElias whispered as he shifted to second gear and slid up the muddy hill that once been a perfectly sealed road.

It was a few kilometres past Society and the Toyota Landcruiser 10-seater jumped slightly as it shifted gear. More powerful , it worked up what little courage it had to tackle the hill.

The journey had been a long one for Maoro Turana. Three weeks out of rugged terrain without rest. Now they were finally heading home, half way through the final leg of the journey.

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The mongrel


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

A mongrel that became a scoundrel
Is now alive and well in high places 
In such esteemed places of pomp and ceremony
Where the satin clad Monsieur
Rules with such simulated gentility and pride

A sombre, elusive character it really is
For it lurks behind every shadow
And yes, it masquerades behind every veil of deception
Lying in wait at every twist and turn
To play its way into the sapphire clad homes
Where the clink and clang of champagne- scented glasses
Where such low music, such crystal chandeliers
Bespeak elegance and sophistication.

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A duet to paradise

JSummit and saddle, Mt Wilhelm ( DREKORE & MARIE-ROSE SAU

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

If you can see paradise from the ugly terrain,
Mt Wilhelm is smiling at you, my dear

…I always have seen paradise through the ugliest terrain
Even through the eyes of my dreams...

Then you have the eyes of a queen,
Can you see the empty throne beside Wilhelm?

Through the eyes of the queen in my dream
I can see it clear
That empty chair of royalty,
Seat made of the finest cuscus fur,
Head proudly attired in glorious plumes fit for a king
And guarded by the spirit warriors only my eyes can see
Yes I see that empty throne and it is alluring me into its arms

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The rite of marriage in Buin

Buka_boys_performing_at_a_Buin_folk_festivalELLAH OIRAMU

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Cleland Family Award for Heritage Writing

BOUGAINVILLE has great cultural diversity, its customs and traditions vary in every district and Buin in the south is no exception.

Marriage customs vary widely throughout the autonomous region and in Buin there is a unique traditional process for marriage.

Today only parts of the sacred ritual are practiced, many aspects subsided two or three generations ago, when most marriages were still arranged.

After a couple is betrothed the two families get together and discuss the bride price, in which the bride’s extended family has a final say.

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The flag of the nation


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

The soles of his feet
carries the foundation of his nation
the rhythm of his heartbeat
aligns his promise to his nation

The strength in his legs
carries the weight of a nation
the clench of his fists
guards his loyalty to his nation

The look in his eyes
sees his duty to his nation
the stand with his allies
builds a bridge to his nation 

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The pen & notebook are falling into inexperienced hands

Journalist at workREILLY KANAMON

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

IN the midst of the crowd at Divine Word University’s open day in 2013, as I sat at the Communication Arts public relations booth, a senior national public servant approached me with a question.

“Son, why is it that most of the prominent journalists in the country are disappearing from the mainstream media?” The look on her face already suggested an answer before my lips could move.

Unlike any other profession where one works until retirement age, the case is otherwise for journalists in Papua New Guinea.

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XV Pacific Games 2015

PNG athletes in Samoa, 2007BESSIELAH DAVID

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

If I may see the paradise banner
Every fleeting moment counts
If I am bold and proud enough,
The golden lace will survive the years.

This is our time, these are our games
To fly it high – to raise the banner
To run the race – our feet light weight
To shine the torch – of sportsmanship

If I may see our kumul, the sky is the limit
As we run, we soar, in prideful glee
The pressure is on, “We’re ready to go!”
The drum beats roll, “We’re ready to roar!”

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The sacred tradition of womanhood


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Cleland Family Award for Heritage Writing

THE four regions of Bougainville have their own ways of initiating young girls into womanhood. To this very day these rituals are still practised and upheld by the villagers.

They are inescapable as there are curses and laws associated with them. The traditions are vital in order for a woman to be regarded as independent and ready to start a family.

Many of these rituals from various parts of the island are no longer practised because westernisation is taking its course, however the Tinputz people of the northern region still uphold their tradition.

It is an initiation performed to adolescent girls during their first period. This ritual symbolises the independence of young girls and that they are ready to find a husband, start up a family and do everything a mother is expected to do.

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Pacific Games: one people, one spirit, our games


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

Here we gather
both to compete
and to share the weather
both to unite
and to share our cultures

Here we are, where else should we be
we are the Pacific dream
we adapt the tropics, we adapt the temperate
diverse are we no matter how specific
we've come because we are the best

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Suau: the sons of seafarers

Suau vessel in harbourKONETERO RONNIE DOTAONA

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Cleland Family Award for Heritage Writing

EVERY Suau-speaking lad is fond of the ocean. Ask him. And ask him about his dream. “Go to maritime college, join the navy or build a workboat.”

If a Simbai is born with all the secrets of the forest, then a Suau is a born seafarer.

Infant boys are carried by an uncle or grand-uncle to the beach. He is made to face Tupo Yalasi, the direction of the west wind.

The old man will make the infant to dance and perform the ritual song calling on the Yalasi wind to inundate the infant with strength.

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Tired of being on the run


An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

Why the increase in violence
From the Highlands to the Islands
Neighbouring tribes with conflicts
Turn humble tribesmen into convicts
Why do we fight against each other?
When we should be living together
Threatening all parties into silence
An eye for an eye to balance
The pain inflicted on one
Aren’t you tired of being on the run?

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The song of the turtle

The Song of the Turtle (Joycelin Leahy)JOYCELIN LEAHY

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Paga Hill Development Company
Award for Writing for Children
SP Brewery Award for Illustration

THE night was still and dark. Dogs did not bark. The wind blew gently.

Children and babies had stopped crying and laid their heads to rest. Even the night birds were silent around the coastal Morobe village.

Below the whistle of the gentle breeze, Kalem heard a song. It was soft, beautiful and so sad it almost made her cry. It sounded very familiar.

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An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Kina Securities Award for Poetry

Soft skin and chubby limbs
Crawls on fours
Cries out like a whale
No teeth but soft pink gums
Just a pinch and a squeeze
Turning the skin to crimson
Nice companion
Quite enjoying

Charles Nir, a humble illustrator with great ideas

Charles Nir and an illustrationFIDELIS SUKINA

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism

ARMED with a pencil, a biro and an eraser, he sits with the newspapers and takes in the week’s issues. Then he drafts a scene on a sheet of A4 sketch paper.

He needs less than 10 minutes to create an illustration summarising the week’s events.

Charles Nir, 54, lives in Port Moresby and is a freelance illustrator offering his services to news agencies and other organisations that wish to deliver a clear message through art.

“I am from Mendi in the Southern Highlands Province and since primary and high school have been interested in drawing,” says Charles.

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