Crocodile Prize 2019 Feed

3,000 years of pottery show who we are

Ancient Lapita pot
Ancient Lapita pot

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize

PORT MORESBY - Clay pots in many parts of Papua New Guinea are household items and people say they enjoy food cooked in clay pots.

In the Markham valley, the signature clay pot, or ‘gurr’ as we call it, is on the fire every day of the week.

Continue reading "3,000 years of pottery show who we are" »

The story of Belo - Maus Bilong God

Kaiapit bell
The original Kaiapit bell, 1943. Read the story behind the image at end of article (Australian War Memorial)

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize

PORT MORESBY - To tell a classic story that happened nearly 100 years ago is almost impossible to weave together today.

As close as I could get was to discover a source from 20 years after the event. My grand-mama, born around 1939 and who lived through World War II, related to us kids this account that was passed down from her father.

Continue reading "The story of Belo - Maus Bilong God" »

Lessons learned from my mother & my culture

The cultural mandate of the hausman - the elders must instruct young men to learn wisdom and work hard

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize

SONOMA - My mother was my first life coach, teaching me the importance of work for personal success and thriving in a competitive world.

She emphasised the importance of working hard, but I was young, restless and naïve - not ready to listen and pay attention. In one ear and out the other.

Continue reading "Lessons learned from my mother & my culture" »

Hela: Will the people avenge Big Pig LNG?

Prized big pig in the main street of Tari (Albert Tagua)
Prized big pig in the main street of Tari (Albert Tagua)

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize

SONOMA – The highlands province of Hela is host to a multi-billion dollar liquefied natural gas project. But operating alongside the wonders of modern technology is a culture full of rich tradition and custom.

Hela functions on the patrilineal system, where the man owns everything: the land, the pigs and he is the heir of the father’s riches, knowledge of the sacred rites and traditional history.

Continue reading "Hela: Will the people avenge Big Pig LNG?" »

Ruth - my remarkable life exemplar

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize

PORT MORESBY – As a child growing up, I observed women with different approaches to life and there is one who excelled amongst them all.

I admire her personality and spend much time with her. Ruth (the name I will give her) is an exceptional woman. She chose God to build her life foundation, is selfless in her approach and is capable.

Continue reading "Ruth - my remarkable life exemplar" »

16 useful tips to defeat pay day stress

Diane Mandui Mirio cu
Diane Mandui Mirio

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize

KIMBE - We hear a lot about stress related jobs and events in our lives, but there's one particular stress that gets everyone agitated and it happens frequently in Papua New Guinea.

I call it ‘pay day stress syndrome’.

While it is every parent's hope in PNG to see their child go well in school and proceed to tertiary institution or a paid job, there are insecurities that don't hit the limelight.

Continue reading "16 useful tips to defeat pay day stress" »

A modern tale of technology, love & flawed choices

Christina Manu
Christina Manu

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize

PORT MORESBY - The time on the device read 2:45am as I shoved it feebly aside and tossed restlessly around for the hundredth time.

I forced my reluctant eyelids to shut, shielding my eyeballs from the walls that seem to stare back at me in deadly silence but overhearing my thoughts.

Today is the day of the court hearing. The fate of seven years of marriage lies in the hands of a stranger with a black robe and wooden hammer seated behind a tall desk.

Continue reading "A modern tale of technology, love & flawed choices" »

National Book Week should stimulate tangible benefits


KUNDIAWA - It is high time the meaningless and vain annual National Book Week was changed to make it become the vehicle for stimulating tangible benefits to writers and readers.

Every August features National Book Week. In Papua New Guinea gaudy banners of all sizes rustle in the dusty wind. Written on them is an ostensibly witty theme that nobody cares about.

Empty-minded school children in colourful uniforms fill the city arena for the annual event.

For them, it is one of those playtimes. Their predecessors have celebrated it and so will those who come after them.

Continue reading "National Book Week should stimulate tangible benefits" »

Acknowledging the Traditional Tales


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

Mum, when night falls I don’t just want to sleep only,
But hear tales. 
Dad, when night falls I don’t just want to sleep only, 
But hear tales. 
Big brother and sister, when night falls I don’t just want to sleep only,
But hear tales. 
Uncle and aunty, when night falls I don’t just want to sleep only, 
But hear tales.

Continue reading "Acknowledging the Traditional Tales" »

Roads of Scars


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

Like words on a blank white page
They stretch across my once clean pad
Extending upward, sideways and in random arrays
Some large, others so tiny you cannot trace
Intersecting at certain junctions
Avoiding corners and mere dead ends
Junctions of betrayal
Cross roads of pain
Drains of hurt
Potholes of depression.
Scars, people call them.

Continue reading "Roads of Scars" »

Words of the Night


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

In the dark of the night
My thoughts steal across the plains of my mind
As my eyes stare motionlessly
Into the valley of the dark night

My thoughts dances across the plains of my head
And so did the words that were so scared to
Come out and play during the day
For fear of all the negatives and what ifs
For fear of just speaking out
My piece of mind
For all this I hold back the most scared thoughts
Till night falls and I let loose
All that is within me

Continue reading "Words of the Night" »

Eight Mile NCD Northeast (Dirty 8)


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

Tis a dry and dusty world
where no running water flows
Children and dogs
always at play

Among the market tables
where brown grass grows
Young men play cards all day
smoke weed every night
Every weekend, it's a bottle of steam
And everyone dreams
about a life that did not go right

Continue reading "Eight Mile NCD Northeast (Dirty 8)" »

Our Today, Their Tomorrow

Their tomorrow (Unicef)JUNIOR GAIRO ENARA

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

Day by day our lives unfold,
Every minute every hour our story is written, and to them
One day will be told.

The scares and tears of today carve and shape their tomorrow.
Will tomorrow bring him prosperity or poverty?
Will tomorrow bring her joy or will tomorrow bring her sorrow?

Life grins and dances and mocks our faith.
It taunts us with the trials that they are to one day face.

Continue reading "Our Today, Their Tomorrow" »

A Tale Foretold


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

From generations on was it told
Long before we were conceived
It was written among the stars
Through the galaxies it roamed

It was foretold throughout the ages
Travelling through time and space
We wait, for it to be fulfilled
Till it finally found its place

In our hearts, deep in our souls
In the most awkward of situations
When we've lost all hope in love
When we felt unlovable with our imperfections

Continue reading "A Tale Foretold" »

The Smiles of the Innocents


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

Through agony and pain from my mother I came into this world.
So soft and fragile with a high-pitched cry brought smiles to those around me
Mother was smiling, grandmother was smiling, and the health workers were smiling, but you were not nearer to smile when I arrive

You smiled at me when I came home, and I smiled back
You touched me.
However, this was not the usual touch a father gives to a daughter
I fell ill on my third month in this world
I was brought to the health centre
My tongue and mouth were dry
I cried without tears
My eyes were sunken
The health worker cannot touch me as it brought unpleasant feeling to my body
My blood vessels were hidden
After sometimes, tubes were attached to my body
Water was given to me and I began to smile
I was OK to go home

Continue reading "The Smiles of the Innocents" »

Dying Democracy

Police shootingSHIRLEY AMBANG

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

Do not speak ill of the dead,
Poor leadership is where it all led,
Whilst our country lay on its mortal bed.
Afraid to speak out, because we were scared.
Brave students spoke up, got shot up,
And still no one cared.
They put their lives on the line,
To hold powerful accountable for laws undermined,
Attempting to remove, reshuffle, reassign,
Lives given in vain, life in decline.
They came with arms; we were unprepared,
War on our democracy they declared.
When it’s all said and done, in the end,
It is we the people, who despaired.

Cultured Fashion

Cultured fashion
Cultured Fashion, by Therese Pidik


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Awards

Grass skirt swayed away every fibre of its strand,
Paved way to miniskirt, latest fashion of today.

Tree barks woven no longer survive this time,
Fashion is packaged with hottest brand in town.

What use a comfort fit of tanget leaves and bark,
Now adornments of the past, only history can relate.

Each of these the traditional attires,
Of grandparents and forefathers.

Gave them recognition of their status in society,
For those generations, this culture had died with them.

We only know them now from the evidence
of history, either told or written.

Today is very different, and I blame one thing for that.
It was change chased them away, with the fashion of today.

I can embrace this change, but remember and appreciate,
That, they too, had their splendid fashion in their era.

Kula Voyage


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

The conch shell breathes a haunting whisper
While my lizard skinned drum resonates deeper
The lone figure awaits on the hill top
Mr Sun still shines before he'll eventually drop
A starry night welcomes the end of the day
My feet embrace the feeling of the earthy clay
Gradually the jungle emits the jungle symphony
This natural choral orchestra pleading to see

I await the glimpse of a sail from afar
Eagerly anticipating through this door that's ajar
How majestic it glides it's dancing in the breeze
This Kula voyage cruiser everyone at ease
Expertly swaying on the wave that it rides
Soothing my heart my anxiety subsides

The village is a whirlpool of stratospheric celebration
The younger sailors having been baptized
now coming home for graduation
A feast of a massive proportion
Arise stories of adventure and mishap
with jaw-dropping concentration

Continue reading "Kula Voyage" »

Tambu Meri in Kieta Way


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

You might wonder why your mother in-law never sits next to you,
That's 'tambu meri' in Kieta Way.

You might wonder why your mother in-law never calls your name,
That's 'tambu meri' in Kieta Way.

You might wonder why your mother in-law never talks to you face to face,
That's 'tambu meri' in Kieta Way

You might wonder why your mother in-law never shakes hands with you,
That's 'tambu meri' in Kieta way.

You might wonder why I have to say this,
Save lo Kieta wei bifo yu tingting lo maritim meri Kieta.

['Understand Kieta culture before you marry a Kieta woman']

Brink of despair


| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

Sitting quietly at the cove
The cool sea breeze blowing in her hair
Staring at once a treasure trove
Heading towards the brink of despair

Woman, mothers and grandmothers lamenting
Many moons since they last heard of resettlement
Now fifteen years and counting
Still talks continue of government investment

So much political jargon
Talked of good bargains
Now the laughingstock of MSM!

Continue reading "Brink of despair" »

There is still a place called home

Enga-traditional-houseRAYMOND KOMIS GIRANA

| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Poetry Award

You have your home, I have my home
Rise up o ye daughters of this land
Our place dates centuries before Rome
The truth unveiled in the mythical garden

You saw the night exiled from dawn
And your mind enlightened from doom
A promise you knew came from your town
with offers to create for you a heavenly room

And just in time in front of our noses
materializes a threat to human freedom
A promise from the proclaimed bosses
A said wisdom from the netizens' kingdom

Continue reading "There is still a place called home" »



| An entry in the Crocodile Prize Award for Poetry

Wear it with pride, wherever you go.
Over your shoulder, over your head,
across your chest, around your neck
carry it with pride.

Mother to daughter, old to young,
passed on by hand, learnt by heart,
the talent within brought to life.

Hand woven, skilfully crafted, eye catching
Locally made, found nowhere else.

Made of strings, made of wool,
made of bark, made of leaves.
Twisted with fur, covered with feathers,
decorated with shells.

Continue reading "Bilum" »

Sarah: not just an inspiration, more a life teacher


| An entry in the 2019 Crocodile Prize Award for Essays

"I know what your weakness is mum!" my nine year old daughter, Renagi, told me the other day.

"Oh, and what is that?" I asked her.

"It's Sarah!" she replied.

I smiled to myself and gave her a really big hug.

"Yes darling, you're right. It's just one of those days."

We all have good days, bad days, overwhelming days, too tired days, I'm awesome days, and I can't go on days. And every day, you still show up.

Continue reading "Sarah: not just an inspiration, more a life teacher" »

Feminine Bureaucrat


| An entry in the 2019 Crocodile Prize Award for Poetry

White-collar, blue-collar or pink-collar,
Makes no difference when it comes to dollar,

However, it does make a difference,
Mainly when it’s feminine preference,

In a masculine rule norm society,
Where male like to maintain his dignity,

Thankfully it’s not the same anymore,
We are moving forward to the future

Continue reading "Feminine Bureaucrat" »

Death of Decency (Part I)


| An entry in the 2019 Crocodile Prize Award for Poetry

Today we watch with sadness as they create this mess
Today we watch them spit out respect
Like they spit betel nut on the dirty cement
Today they throw lies in our faces
As we watch races laugh in our faces

Today we hear cries of our mothers
Our sisters
Our fathers
Our brothers
Our ancestors must have turned in their graves

Continue reading "Death of Decency (Part I)" »

The events of 29 May 2019 inside & outside parliament

"For two months, I woke up seeing these people already out in the fields working the land"

| An entry in the 2019 Crocodile Prize Award for Essays

PORT MORESBY - It’s been about six weeks since Peter O'Neill resigned as prime minister of Papua New Guinea on Wednesday 29 May.

The day itself has a significant story behind it that I want to share with you.

I first moved into my little hide-out in Games Village halls of residence at the University of PNG situated towards the Morauta swampland and bush.

On that afternoon of 15 February 2019, I sat alone on my balcony and watched as the last ray of sunlight touched upon the horizon.

Continue reading "The events of 29 May 2019 inside & outside parliament" »

Rant Supporting Scott Waide & PNG's Journalists

An entry in the 2019 Crocodile Prize Award for Poetry

I took my camera, my notepad and my biro
So I could write about today's news
I took my camera, my notepad and my biro
So I could interview the women at the hospital

I took my camera, my notepad and my biro
So I could listen to the views of the teachers
I took my camera, my notepad and my biro
So I could tell the world about the volcano at Manam
and the ignorance by my government
in setting up a permanent care centre

Continue reading "Rant Supporting Scott Waide & PNG's Journalists" »

Crocodile Prize launches 2019 short story and poetry contests

2017 awards
The last Crocodile Prize awards in 2017 were hosted by writer Martyn Namorong, himself one of the first award winners in 2011


PORT MORESBY – Poets and short story writers can fire up their computers and blow the dust off their notebooks now that Crocodile Prize organisers have announced the launch of the 2019 awards in both these important genres of writing in Papua New Guinea.

Both awards have a tight deadline for entries of Saturday 31 August and offer large cash prizes as well as publication in the prestigious 2019 Crocodile Prize Anthology.

The winning short story will be awarded to the best original, narrative-based prose by a Papua New Guinean author.

There no strict word limit but judging will be based on quality ahead of quantity.

Continue reading "Crocodile Prize launches 2019 short story and poetry contests" »


Agiba figure (Gulf)LIGGIE KARE | The Crocodile Prize
| Cleland Award for Heritage Literature

Soukuru are the invisible bush people of the Gulf Province. They are like dwarfs: short, unselfish and full of either good luck or bad luck depending on the type of person you are. They protect the bush and its riches, whether gold, oil, secret places, plants or animals.

I wrote about the soukuru because I was thinking a new LNG project might be established in my village and how it would disturb the people and the environment. I believed the soukuru could wreak havoc on the newcomers. If the right steps are followed, perhaps some form of symbiosis could be maintained. Then you will not hear from the soukuru again.

Over screaming fires under the Karama moonlight
Small children gather to hear of the soukuru
Their ears tuned in to its fullest
To the words escaping the storyteller’s buai-stained lips
Just a few metres away, the waves create a soundtrack
Washing to the shore the jellyfish
caught in a tempest beyond the horizon
Moving air blowing through fallen leaves
The whistling grasses seem to come alive
A hot fire effortlessly fights the wind
Protecting the children from the cold

Continue reading "Soukuru" »

The Case of a Kuman Ambai

Kuman ambaiDIU NORA KOIMA | The Crocodile Prize
| Abt Associates Award for Women’s Writing

Above all other roles and personalities I may play and possess,
I am first and foremost a Kuman Ambai by blood and earth
The words I speak, the way I speak them and
How I want my words to influence others
Amount to the Kuman Ideology.
Every word and action is either an idiom, a meme,
A metaphor, and at other times, a personification
Served in every line of a short dialogue
Sarcasm and satire are served by bucket loads.
And no, it is not for the fun of it. It is just how it is.

Continue reading "The Case of a Kuman Ambai" »

Sheena’s writing journey: The hobby that became a way of life

Sheena Simololo - "When our traditions are translated to the written word, we are helping to preserve them"


Link here to Sheena Simelolo’s beautiful heritage story, The Kitoro

PORT MORESBY - Today Sheena Simelolo inspires a new generation of writers as an English literature tutor at the University of Goroka, but her own love of writing was sparked years before as a secondary student.

She was challenged by a teacher at Marianville Secondary School in Port Moresby, who had taken note of Sheena’s burgeoning literary interest and challenged her to put pen to paper.

“I started writing because of school,” Sheena said, “a defining moment was when I was in Grade 10 – my English teacher, Ms Rosa Kedarosi, made us write short fictional stories every weekend.

“She would either give us the beginning or the ending and it was up to us to complete the story.

“I was always interested in writing short stories – I was a great reader and most of my writing was inspired by the books I read.

“I loved reading books that were based on true stories or that depicted real-life situations.”

Sheena’s writing flourished and upon completing high school she decided to study for a Bachelor of Education, Language and Literature at the University of Goroka, where her passion transformed in to a way of life.

Continue reading "Sheena’s writing journey: The hobby that became a way of life" »

Table Mama – the betel nut vendor

Betel nut sellerRAYCHELLE CASSEY REDI | The Crocodile Prize
| Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

A hardworking person,
A family backbone,
An early morning bird that wakes up
to go buy betelnut in bulk,
Set up her table and resell them,
To earn some cash to put food on the table.

She's the bread and butter for the family.
She struggles to earn a toea
but family doesn't appreciate her sweat.
She gets scolds from an angry father
who only thinks he's the boss
And punches when he’s drunk

Continue reading "Table Mama – the betel nut vendor" »

Herick’s fictional tales capture the true human spirit

Herick Aeno
Herick Aeno - "“Writing is a powerful tool that can change how people think and react towards issues and situations”


You can read here Herick Arno’s riveting short story, The Not Forgotten

PORT MORESBY - Herick Aeno is a social researcher by day, but by night he is transformed into a short story writer who uses fiction as a means to explore Papua New Guinea’s socio-cultural issues.

Originally from Eastern Highlands and still based in Goroka, Herick’s work with the PNG Institute of Medical Research takes him to remote parts of the country to conduct sexual and reproductive health studies.

His research helps the Institute provide vital information on health issues to the National Department of Health and other development partners.

On these journeys he has come across the desperation faced by people in remote areas and this has served as an inspiration for his fiction writing.

“Part of my work includes writing for publication in academic journals,” Herick said.

“I have also developed an interest in capturing experiences and issues I come across in communities throughout PNG.

Continue reading "Herick’s fictional tales capture the true human spirit" »

Bare Feet In Heels

Betty Chapau
Betty Chapau - "I always believed that one good thing that came out of colonialism was education. Eventually education will break down the cage"

BETTY S CHAPAU | The Crocodile Prize
Abt Associates Award for Women’s Writing

The Southern Cross had advised the coming of the Trade Winds and the beautiful island women rose majestically from the platform of their outrigger canoes, lifting conch shells to mouths and blowing in unison. They were announcing the coming of the Trade Winds.

The Solomon and Bismarck Seas carried the melody of their voices toward the mainland. Guarding the coastline stood the women, swaying in vibrant-coloured grass-skirts.

They raised their hands to welcome this familiar voice and greeted it with smiles of gratitude. They strengthened the message of their island sisters with the beating of kundus resounding into the mountains.

Emerging from the mountaintop, radiant like the birds of paradise, stood the women of the mountains. They danced, sang and embraced this beautiful message of unity.

From islands to highlands stretched this unity of diverse beauty. Colourful bodies glowed with shades of red, black and gold. Despite the multiplicity of their languages, there was a common sense of pride that threaded through their tongues. These are us, the resilient women of Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "Bare Feet In Heels" »

Freedom Voice

Hazel Duduwega
Hazel Duduwega

HAZEL DUDUWEGA | Crocodile Prize | An entry in
the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

Freedom Voice was inspired by my passion for community development. Women have little or no voice in decision-making. Usually just one or two stand out, the rest stand back and watch for shame or for fear. Even in matrilineal societies, it is the men with whom the decisions rest and who are mouthpieces. Women bear the title ‘owner’; but an owner who has no voice. I salute those women who stand up in their communities - HD

For freedom of speech sake
Allow me to speak
This is a matrilineal society
A generation I inherited by birth
Treat me not like an alien
In my own land
You cannot deny
I have the right

Continue reading "Freedom Voice" »

Yumi karim lek

Karim lekLYNETTE KERENGA | Crocodile Prize
| An entry in the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature

See footnote

Aiiii yaaa wuuuu……
The chanting of my mamas’ echoes
Through the fertile Wahgi Valley
Up and down the dirty Wara Wahgi
The kundu drums beat

The singsing has started. People are still coming;
the neighbouring villages and tribes
The singsing echoes to the beat
of the famous kundu drums
The glorious tumbo and mek
swishes towards the steps of the dancers
Ol whiteman sa tok the bird of paradise headdress”,
my bubu would say

The singsing continues as one of my uncles
grabs a kundu off a girl in the singsing group
The handsome warrior from another tribe
grabs a spear off another girl in the singsing group
The hardworking girl everyone’s talking about
grabs a kundu off the chief’s son.

Slowly the singsing departs
and everyone gathers before the big haus kunai
“Ladies first,” as the westerners say
The girls make their way into the big haus kunai
Hot, yellow and orange blazing flames
from the burning wood lights up the house.

Continue reading "Yumi karim lek" »

A Thing Called Freedom

FreedomEMILY KENDI | Crocodile Prize | An entry in the
Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

A thing called freedom.
Oh, what a thing of beauty,
To win and to prize more highly than fame or wealth -

A thing called freedom.
Oh, what a thing of beauty,
The forces of destiny in all generosity look upon you –

A thing called favour.
Oh, what a thing of beauty,
To take up my pen and slay my fears with a single stroke -

Continue reading "A Thing Called Freedom" »

The Not Forgotten

SangumaHERICK AENO | Crocodile Prize | An entry
in the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature

The cold mountain rain has slowed down to a drizzle, the heavy clouds opening for an almost full moon to project a gentle light into the drenched valley.

Slowly the stars come out promising a fine night. The nocturnal creatures slowly resume their nightly orchestra but seem to be attentive to another presence.

Something moves slowly up the hillside in the cold night. A dark figure that seems to observe its surroundings before moving on. It is weary, yet continues.

‘It’ is a young girl, dripping wet and shivering from the icy mountain wind. She hesitates and looks to the ground as if to find the bush path, which is now slippery and treacherous from the rain.

The girl looks to be in her early teens. Close up, there is fear in her eyes, but also determination. Her thin shorts and old tee-shirt had offered little protection from the earlier rain.

In her arms is a bundle in her arms. A small child that at first seem motionless but then hugs the girl’s neck. The child is not well and can only manage a whimpering sound. It is her brother.

Continue reading "The Not Forgotten" »

Tired of it All

Domestic violence
This painting by our good friend Mary was given to us as a house-warming present. If you look closely you can see it is about the plight of PNG women: how they’ve been treated, how their voices are stifled and their bodies abused. It is a powerful work – Peter Kranz

CLAUDIA SIYON TALLY | Crocodile Prize |
An entry in the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

Oh dear, I began,
I am afraid of living
And I am terrified of dying
Don't want to look over my shoulder
I want to laugh and be happy;
But no matter how bright the sun is
My days are always dull.

I fear for my life
Every time I go out of my home
I once knew these streets so well
Now I am scared of what awaits me
Will it be a car to take me away?
Never to be found again?
Oh, it tears me apart

I don't know if I’m safe at all,
Even in my room I’m afraid
That I will be mugged or raped,
I cannot trust my own kinsman
Even those sworn to protect me
You may call me paranoid
But what choice do I have?

Do you know what it is like?
To cry out loud yet be so silent?
People hear the gunshot
Not the cries before
They see the car drive off
Not the girl walking
I am invisible

We are civilised
So why are women beaten?
Why are women raped?
Why are my sisters kidnapped?
Why are our mothers mugged?
Questions I often ask
Answers I do not have

So, help me, I beg
That my voice be heard
That my life be spared
That I be able to trust
That I am once more safe
So I can take my rest
Because, I am tired of it all

My Tolai way of life

Heritage - Diulen picMAJELLA DIULEN |  Crocodile Prize
An entry in the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature

GAZELLE PENINSULA - I am a Tolai, I am a friend. Come to my house and I’ll make you a delicious aigir of taro, bananas, aibika and native chicken meat. A bunch of betel nut and mustard will be prepared for you.

I am a Tolai. I dance to the beatof the garamut, with my red laplap wrapped around my waist and stretching down to my knees. Totally shirtless.

My basket under my armpit, distinguished by pes kambang, shouting and twisting as the kangal on my head sway back and forth and from side to side in time with the twists and turns of my tumbuan.

I am a Tolai. I dance to the beat of the bamboo drums. My chicken feathers wrapped in scented green leaves sway to and fro as my arms swing back and forth, from side to side with the rhythm of the bamboo drums.

Continue reading "My Tolai way of life" »

Sorry I'm not for sale

Woman (Etsy)KATHRYNA BOBOLA | Crocodile Prize
An entry in the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

I wasn't born with a price tag or a barcode.
Nor did I learn things in another household.
People said I wouldn't maintain the workload
And that one day I would be forcibly sold

They promised me good fortune and delight,
Offered money my parents never saw or had.
It seemed like an abundant life was in sight,
I refused. My parents thought I’d gone mad.

"Sorry, I'm not for sale"
I’m more than the money you offer
And sure our future will fail
Just leave me alone, don’t bother.

Continue reading "Sorry I'm not for sale" »

In a world of fists

Sarah Kaut Nasengom
Sarah Kaut Nasengom

SARAH KAUT-NASENGOM | Crocodile Prize |
An entry in the Abt Associates Award for Women’s Literature

This poem is a short reflection, just a quick glance, at the physical and emotional hurt a woman in Papua New Guinea experiences as a victim of domestic violence, seeing the world as black and white – offering both hurt yet hope for a better future – SK-N

In a world of fists,
She stumbles with bloody wrists,
Blame is a nonstop game,
Name calling is a shame,

Fist sweeps,
She weeps,
Nose bleeds,
She pleads,

She cannot hide,
Fate chose her side,
Brokenness a constant companion,
Black and white in perfect union.

Beliefs, superstitions & mind play: A Trobriand perspective

Vakuta island
Vakuta island

ROMNEY YOURIKU | Crocodile Prize |
An entry in the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature

Much has been written about the culture, traditions, ethnicity and socio economic and political aspects of Trobriand society.

Credit must be given to pioneers like Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski and others from academia as well as missionaries.

I’d like to share with you some superstitions my people believe in, most of which I learnt as part of my heritage growing up in my home village of Vakuta, the smallest island in the Trobriand group and located to the south.

Myths, legends and superstitions form a strong pillar in Vakutan culture and society. Witchcraft, wizardry, sorcery and magic intertwine with these superstitions, whether they are associated with a crying child, barking dogs, a rooster crowing at midnight, the shrill noises of flying foxes and more.

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The Kitoro

Rigo danceSHEENA SIMELOLO | An entry in the Crocodile Prize Cleland Heritage Writing Award

Sheena Simelolo is a 29-year old teacher from Rigo in Central Province, but working in Goroka. She writes of herself: "I come from the Rigo inland district of Central Province. Writing short stories is like a hobby for me. I wrote this particular piece while a student at the University of Goroka".

RIGO - There was no doubt Gege Gori was the most beautiful girl in the village and all the girls envied her beauty.

She was tall and slender in build, had long, shiny, wavy hair the colour of midnight. Her soft fair skin always smelled of freshly perfumed coconut oil. Her eyes were magnificent. They were the darkest of browns and when she smiled they came alive with twinkles.

Gege probably never noticed Vele Vala the village musician's son watching her every day. Vele would creep behind tall bushes just so he could listen to Gege's voice when she talked with her friends as they went to fetch water from the nearby river.

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My culture, my identity

Abigail SetaABIGAIL SETA | An entry in the Crocodile Prize Cleland Heritage Writing Award

KAIRUKU - I couldn’t help but feel overwhelming pride for my culture as the beautiful bright yellow and red colours were painted skilfully on my face. A proud Mekeo woman, I was at that moment.

Although overwhelmed, I did feel sad that my family was not present to witness their daughter, sister, niece and granddaughter dress in Kairuku’s outstanding traditional attire and sway to the famous Kairuku ribiri song.

As I wore my grass skirt which fell all the way down to my feet, I began to remember stories told to me by my grandmother when I was growing up. Times when my brother and I would be too much for her to handle and she’ll tell us about the struggles she went through when she was in the village.

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Legendary Clelands continue to support heritage & literature

Bob Cleland
Bob Cleland and his family contributed greatly to the development of Papua New Guinea


PORT MORESBY - The fingerprints of the Cleland family’s hard work remain throughout Papua New Guinea – from the administrative machinery in Port Moresby to the misty heights of the Daulo Pass.

The Cleland legacy goes back to the 1950s and the family’s story is one of love for Papua New Guinea and its people, and deep respect for its sovereignty and heritage.

Author and former kiap Bob Cleland says that at that time “a unique thing was happening.

“The traditional inhabitants and the newcomers were developing concurrently, side-by-side, with the same aims and aspirations.

“Government, private enterprise, Christian missions and village people were all pulling together in the same direction.”

Bob’s father, Sir Donald Cleland, was the distinguished Administrator of the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea from 1952-66 and played an important role as it prepared for Independence.

Under his direction, the first elected House of Assembly (the predecessor of the post-Independence parliament) was elected in 1964.

Sir Donald also worked to remove discriminatory barriers – restructuring the public service in order for Papua New Guineans to take a predominant role and ending the divisive liquor ban that applied only to Papua New Guineans.

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