Wednesday, October 1, 2014

ANSLOM'S NEW ALBUM: NO APOLOGIES TO CORRUPT POLITICANS

Anslom's latest is the best reggae album produced by a Papua New Guinean artist so far.
The rhymes in the toasts are authentic, natural and and executed with perfect precision. The skanks are Jamaican heavy and addictive.

The brass, although, electronic have found their place in the songs. You can feel a bit of Toots and the Maytals in "Coconut Pine." But I reckon, his best work is the Dube inspired "Member" (you can't lie). This song makes no apologies for its hard hitting lyrics.

It doesn't hide behind the veil of poetry or sarcasm. It nails the issue of corruption and public theft smack bang in the face.

"Member,  you can't  lie to me. I know You've been cheating on me!


Friday, September 26, 2014

THE MURAL OF MOROBE

The mural of the Morobe province is a magical work of art. The artist who painted this master piece of languages, cultures and personalities definitely had fun doing it.

Just as part of the world is packed into a country with 800 languages and a multitude of distinct cultures, Morobe is a cross section of a the whole of Papua New Guinea. It is the four regions in one landmass.

There are coastal peoples stretching from the border of the Madang province to the Oro province border. The language groups and family links blending, unending in seamless transition from one end of the province to the other. Their many tongues are like words of a song adhering to no particular beat with each, a song unto itself. Malasanga, Karnai, Kinalakna, Migabac and Bugawac, Kate, Yabem…

It is a long band of sandy beaches and rocky, porous coral punctuated by river mouths – some warm, gracious and generous while others cantankerous, moody and unpredictable.

Then the master creator looked to the North to Wasu and paid special attention to the beaches and rivers. Let’s give them a mixture of black and white sandy beaches. Some with bright white pebbles and some with dark sand. It must be like their languages – a cacophony of color and beauty. Let the leatherbacks take refuge there on their way to distant shores.

On the other end of that band of sand beaches, let them be sheltered from the rough seas by the islands of Lababia and her sisters so that the warriors of the Suena, the Zia and the Yekora will also learn how to stand together in times of strife.

In my mind’s eye, I see an artist, a master speaking to his peers – those who created the masterpieces of the Navaho, Sioux and the Inca. Fellow creators, he says. Now that I’ve created what will be known as the Eastern Highlands, let’s take the most nimble and agile bowmen and put them in the highlands of Morobe where Aseki and Menyamya will be. The ferocity and bravery of the Hamtai, the Menya and the Angaatiha must be matched by nothing less than the towering mountains and the mighty gorges for This is a place not for the faint hearted. They must be hardy enough to survive the rigors of a thousand year journey.

In the distance, the Markham River beckoned. Taking a handful of various colors, he sprinkled them on the valley at the feet of the mighty Sarawaged and the Finisterre. There, the Wampar, the Adzera and the Numanggang were allowed to roam on the flat plains as far as the eye could see.

As the sun darkened on the Zia and set behind the mountains of Wantoat, he left in the hope that this wonderful mural would be given the respect and honor it so deserved.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

AVENGU- ANOTHER PARADISE FORGOTTEN

Avengu village, picturesque and remote. 
Avengu village sits ridge nestled amongst the giants of the Sarawaged. The people are  cut off from their district  headquarters   in Gagidu.  There is no road access.   The  nearest government station is in Pindiu  is a two day walk from Avengu.     The people  grow coffee  and little else in terms of cash crops.

 The coffee trees are tall.  They   have not been pruned for a long while.   But when  harvest time comes,    up to 20 people each carrying  50 kilogram bags  make the two day journey to Pindiu  to sell the coffee.
Theo Zurenuoc - Service delivery eats up 70 percent of our budget
A two day walk to Pindiu
“When we start walking at six in the morning, we arrive  in Pindiu at six in the afternoon the next day.”   The people have accepted that roads won’t be built in the next two years and that construction  equipment  won’t arrive even in the next four.   This is one place where the cost of service delivery  eats up about 70 percent of the district’s development budget.

 “If we have a million kina to spend, K700,000 will be spent on transportation and other costs and we’d be left with just K300,000 for actual services,” says  Finchafen MP, Theo Zurenuoc.

 Zurenuoc walked the rugged mountains where the villages are located.  He is one of  a new breed of PNG politicians  who have tried to stay connected to their place of origin.      In one of his many  trips during the wet season, the people reported  up to five deaths. All of them were  failed  rescues or  failed attempts to cross flooded rivers.

The Avengu people now have a foot bridge.  This is where government funding is being channeled.   But to build the bridge ,  the people  made a five hour trek,  through thick jungle,   to carry  the metal parts from   Lembati airstrip, in the neighboring village,    to the site.   The bridge cost  30 thousand kina.  But the cost of  service delivery added up to  nearly K70,000.  It’s the same  in most mountainous districts all over Papau New Guinea.   As in many other rural locations,  there is an ever present  plague of  high infant and maternal deaths.

 Lisa Ivil,   a primary school teacher has seen  women  and children die every year.   “Every year,   we see five deaths,” she tells me.

“It’s alarming. But what can we do?”

Speaking at a public gathering in the presence of her  parliamentary representative, Theo Zurenuoc,  she  raised concerns over the cost of delivering services.     Her salary of K500 a fortnight  can’t cater for transportation costs for her family. A plane ticket costs K300 per passenger. She has no choice but to spend nearly half a week walking to the coast with her  young family.    

ONE OF THOSE STORIES, ONE OF THOSE RAIDS


There is never a dull week in Papua New Guinea.  

As a TV journalist,  there are things that happen when you’re covering stories that you simply can’t decide there and then, if they should be reported as they happen or kept from the public.  Sometimes the reasons are simple:  Some may find it highly insulting and discriminatory   while others  extremely humorous.   I must add that Papua New Guinean humor can sting. 

In  one of those busy months in 2013, the Immigration Taskforce arrived in Lae City for a series of investigations and raids.   The team made up of officers from police, immigrations and customs  conducted a string of  raids on various  Chinese and Bengladeshi  run businesses.   

In  hindsight,  It was quite   unfortunate  that those allegedly  involved in instances of  human smuggling came from those two groups.  Each had their own methods of  getting into the country. According to government information,  the Chinese would use official means, take shortcuts and try to make sure documents appeared as legitimate as possible. 

The Bangladeshis worked in organized groups   and focused on getting their people to rent shops in rural areas  or suburbs away from the prying eyes of government authorities.  This however,  is a simplified version of how things work.   I must  also add, this is,  in no way meant to stamp  the Chinese or the Bangladeshis  with a stereotypical label.
So we get called to this shop in Kamkumung – Salu trading. We were allowed  to film the investigation  at  the shop.    All  the front doors were locked  so we had to wait a few minutes.   As I stood armed and ready with the camera outside,  a subject from the previous drugs story   - who I won’t name   - due to security reasons said:  

 “Hey, Wanpla man  ya, ronawe na go insait lo haus blo mipla na hait. Mi toksave pinis lo police.”  

Camera switched on, we ran after two cops who  were tracking the guy.  Inside the compound,  two  girls both wearing shorts came out of the little timber dwelling where the Chinese guy  was believed to be hiding. 

Cop armed with an M16 goes in cautiously and pokes  the barrel of the weapon into the heap of clothes and bedding.   

 “Ankol, kam arasait. Putim han go natap na kam arasait!  Then, after a few seconds… “Oi!!! Hapim han go antap!! Gun we?  Blary Idiot! Gun We?”

 I also make a mad dash into the small haus kapa.   Sitting on the  floor is a Chinese  guy with  hands raised.  He is, to my astonishment, smiling nervously!.   In a Chinese accented Tok Pisin:  “Nogat gun…Nogat Gun….”   

Police officer unconvinced, grabs the guy by the belt and literally stands him up as if he were paper.
“Why na u ron? Ah?  Ankol, Why yu ron?”

Later, as he was escorted out   with the M16  pointed squarely  at his back, we found out, the mother of the compound who was doing laundry, had  not the slightest idea that  Chinese guy from Salu trading had climbed over the fence and sneaked into  the haus kapa, crawled under the mattress,  disrupted play for two  6-year-old girls.  She was furious.
 “Wantok blo yu we na yu ron kam go insait lo haus blo mi?
Chinese guy was told to go back the same way he came. Over the fence  with his skinny jeans.  He had no visa,  no work permit and no passport.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

LANGIMA - THE MAGIC OF RURAL PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Langima is a village in a  local government  area of the  Menyamya district.

It is isolated, forgotten  and has one of the highest infant and maternal  death rates in the country.

That’s slowly changing. For the first time, government funding  will reach the people as the Menyamya district invests more than a million kina into rehabilitating the roads and bridges. 


















Thursday, September 18, 2014

SEE THE CRIME. NOT THE KILLER'S ETHNICITY

At this time, it is crucial that we put aside ETHNICITY, CLAN  and TRIBE and truly see things as they are.

 Ethnicity doesn’t matter right now.  

These are the facts:  a person,  or several,  committed  the brutal act  of murder that claimed the life of Albert Gibson, high school teacher and coordinator or the Kainantu  Distance Learning Center.  
It really doesn’t matter where  the killers are from.  The question of where they are from adds no value to our collective quest to fight this evil. It serves  no purpose at all to blame a group, a tribe or a province.  

Let’s see this act for what it is:  A crime committed against a fellow PAPUA NEW GUINEAN.
Let’s put a face to the victim of this horrible  crime.   His name is ALBERT GIBSON,   the father of a six month old baby,  friend to a woman who loved him, son to a father, a brother.     Because that’s what it is.  That is what we can relate to.  

Albert Gibson,  teacher, father, brother and  son represents us as a people.  He represents  our lives, our struggles and  our deaths  as a people of this great country of ours.
Ethnicity doesn’t   matter anymore.   Focusing on ethnicity,  in the context of criminal acts,  is a waste of energy.  It is the simplest,  easiest and most foolish path towards justifying an argument.  It is stereotypical  and makes us no better than all many  outside of the country who fail to see our beauty as a people. 

My mother grew up in the Southern Highlands.  My father worked in Enga. I was born and raised in Goroka.  I belong to a clan,  a tribe called Papua New Guinea.   My on my heart is painted the Kumul and the stars. 

There  lie  my roots.

JULIE SOSO: IMPLEMENT DEATH PENALTY!



The Barola section of the Highlands  Highway will remain closed until Friday when the community presents a petition  containing their demands to the Eastern Highlands leaders.

A series of blockades were set up after a young Kainantu  teacher  was tortured  and killed  on a Lae bound  PMV two days before Independence. 

Yesterday, Eastern Highlands MPs including Governor, Julie Soso,  met with the community  expressing a call for the speedy implementation of the death penalty.

Yesterday, Police Minister Robert Atiyafa,  Eastern Highlands Governor, Julie Soso, Kainantu MP,  Johnson Tuke, led a high powered delegation to meet with the Barola people. 

As they work to diffuse tensions that began on Saturday.   Details of the killing  that sparked  this unrest are slowly coming to the fore.

Since Saturday,  it has become clear Albert Gibson, father of a six month old baby,  was murdered because of his ethnicity and because the bus he was traveling on was stoned near his  town.  His relatives are still coming to terms with his brutal death.

“How can someone endure that kind of torture,”  said Vincent Aikebus who spoke at the gathering yesterday. “He wasn’t  Jesus Christ. Why did they have to kill him for something another had done?”

Albert Gibson   was the Coordinator of Kainantu’s newly opened distance learning center. His death has sparked widespread anger prompting both members of the public and  Eastern Highlands governor Julie Soso  to  call for  the quick implementation of the  death penalty. 

“We have felt enough pain. If we have to implement the death penalty,  now is the time.”

Police Minister, Robert Atiyafa and the Kainantu MP, Johnson Tuke, say they too will back that call in Parliament. 

“It was brutal and uncalled for,” said Atiafa.

Barola used to be a criminal hotspot.  But about 12 years ago, things began to change as the criminals laid down their arms.  Albert Gibson,  many said,  was a product of that period of change. 

The murder  has plunged Barola back to the bad old days.  On Sunday night, a Hagen bound container vehicle was burned.   As the EMTV Lae Bureau crew were filming,  another vehicle  was stopped.  Within minutes,   the situation deteriorated as tribesmen sought an avenue to vent their anger. 

The rear windows hacked with knives and axes.  The driver  was ironically a teacher himself.  Former DWU lecturer, Chris Papiali,  was forced out of the vehicle, later took refuge in a police vehicle.  
He escaped unhurt. His vehicle was destroyed and his property taken.  

The people here say they  do not  want compensation for the death of the Albert Gibson.    They want  the murderers to be brought to justice and executed. 

Eastern Highlands MPs will be meeting with the Western Highlands Governor and other Western Highlands MPs  to discuss a way forward and hopefully, have the highway reopened by Friday



TO THE KILLERS OF THE KAINANTU TEACHER


 The man you killed had a name and a face. The man you killed had a woman and a child who is now without a dad.

He was looked upon as a leader in his clan and tribe. He was loved and cared for by a mother and a father. He had brothers and sisters who depended on him and looked up to him. He was an educated man from a place previously known for its crime. He chose to come back home and serve his people.

What kind of satisfaction did it give you to torture this young man? What satisfaction did it give you to beat him and stab him until his death? Did it feel good to exact your revenge on someone?

You weak, sadistic, spineless fools! Your very existence are curses to your mothers’ who carried you. You are insults to humanity!

Is life that cheap to you? You kill and compensate. You kill and you compensate. Maybe you think you will pay for the life that you took. Maybe you think because you did the same to many others, you could do it to the teacher as well.

I tell you now your money means nothing anymore. Your money is now worth naught. It will have no more power over those you kill and maim because you chose, by your deeds, to curse yourself and your children and your children’s children.

I heard his brother say: “For a man to suffer like that is not good! He wasn’t Jesus Christ. He should not have suffered for the wrongs of another!” He said it with more sadness than anger.

His father, a simple pastor, bearded and painted in mud. He, despite his sorrow, told his sons and brothers to stop their thirst for revenge. He said: “He was not only a teacher. He was also a pastor. They have killed him and that is enough. As his father, I want no more killing. I do not want the blood of other innocent people on my hands.”

Do not, for a second, take this lightly. You have not been “excused” for your actions. It means the job of punishment has been passed on to someone greater than us all. It means you will receive tenfold, what you gave.

For the hundreds….No…thousands of lives affected by the loss of this one man, you will be punished. For the child from whom you stole a father, you will be punished. For the woman who is without a friend, you will be punished. For the father whose son you took, you will be punished. For the mother who weeps, you will be punished.

You will find no peace and no refuge from that which will plague you. You will find no sleep.