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Parkop launches Walk for Life in Goroka

The National,   By ZACHERY PER

NATIONAL Capital Governor Powes Parkop launched the ‘Walk For Life’ programme in Goroka on Friday for the people of Eastern Highlands.

“My goal is to inspire future generations to be much healthier and make our country much better than what it is today,” Parkop told people who gathered for the event.

He said the programme aimed at promoting healthy living that would prolong life.

Eastern Highlands Walk for Life branch will be based in Kabiufa village, 8km from Goroka town.

Parkop presented K20,000 to Eastern Highlands Family Voice and K40,000 to the people of Kofena in upper Asaro to fulfil a commitment he made in 2008.

He said there was fierce tribal fighting in the past in Kofena where many people were killed. Many of the tribesmen fled to Port Moresby and voted for him to become NCD Governor.

Parkop initiated a “walk for peace” on Saturday morning from Kofena to Asaro government station. He then initiated another walk yesterday morning from Kabiufa Seventh-day Adventist Secondary School to Goroka town.

Papua New Guinea embraces the tranquillity of yoga

There may not be the lycra leggings or mats, but those behind a growing grassroots yoga campaign in Papua New Guinea say its practice is changing lives, including those of hardened criminals.

Inmates in Port Moresby’s Bomana prison do yoga.

A lot of times the wardens say: ‘On the days you guys come, it’s so more quieter, there’s no fights during meals. And you know, people sleep better’.

Bomana prison inmate Gordon

Inmates in Port Moresby's Bomana prison do yoga. (Facebook)
When I came in I was ag
Inmates in Port Moresby’s Bomana prison do yoga.(Facebook)
When I came in I was ag

Port Moresby is ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous cities, where high levels of unemployment can often push youth living in the city’s settlements to a life of crime.

But some of these youth, behind bars in the city’s Bomana prison, are propelling PNG’s yoga revolution.

Nineteen-year-old convicted murderer Gordon arrived at Bomana prison when he was about 17 years of age.

He is now learning to be a yoga instructor and said that of the 70 juveniles in the prison, 20 do yoga regularly.

When I came in I was aggressive. When I came to practise yoga I realised that I found the real me, the real potential that I have.

Bomana prison inmate Gordon

The Yoga Unites PNG group, established and run by Fazilah Bazari (pictured), holds classes in Bomana for its young inmates in one of the nation’s harshest prisons.

“I want to lead the change in the prison,” said Gordon of his appreciation of yoga.

“When I get out, I’ll be leading the change and setting an example. I’ll become a changemaker of this nation.”

Yoga Unites PNG has also taken its classes to those living in the often dangerous 8 Mile squatters’ settlement on the outskirts of the capital.

Before I took up yoga, everyone in my community saw me as a dropout. But now I’m inspiring others, and my relatives and friends see me as an agent of change.

Yoga instructor Jackson Manuai Kiap, 25, from 8 Mile

Yoga sun salutations on PNG’s highest point, Mt Wilhelm in Chimbu Province.(Facebook)

It’s common in PNG for young people to witness violence. Young people especially can come and improve their health and fitness, but they can also release the bad vibes.

Governor Powes Parkop

Yoga has reached Morobe towns, Porgora mine workers, and brought sun salutations on the country’s highest point, Mt Wilhelm in Chimbu Province.

The National Capital District’s often outspoken Governor, Powes Parkop, became a yoga enthusiast in the past year.

Governor Parkop has been self-funding his Walk For Life campaign and assisting the Yoga Unites PNG team.

But with PNG facing a non-communicable disease epidemic, he’s calling on the national government to provide financial support.

Children in the town of Wau in Morobe province practising yoga.(Facebook)

Our people are dying. Young lives are shorter. We are failing the next generation and we can’t build the nation to be prosperous and well if we are sick, unfit and unhealthy.

Governor Powes Parkop

Mine workers in Porgora doing yoga.(Facebook)

It deals with the mindset, it deals with anger, it deals with the type of negative mindsets that people have. It builds mental wellness.

Governor Powes Parkop

Walkers in Powes Parkop’s Walk for Life group in Port Moresby warm up each weekend with some yoga.(Facebook)

The doctor gave me an option: to get all these pills, or lose weight and become fit and well. For me, I can’t believe that I — one year ago, one and a half years ago — would be doing yoga.

Governor Powes Parkop

A frightening prognosis by his doctor first drove Governor Parkop to turn to walking, and then yoga, where he has experienced the benefits first hand.

His Walk For Life now has hundreds of people joining him each weekend for a walk, which begins with the obligatory group yoga stretch.

Photos: YOUth Own Great Awakening; Jackson Manuai Kiap; Walk For Life PNG; Fazilah Bazaric

First posted 23 Jan 2016, 5:30am ,

Governors Walk for Life

That was the word from NCD Governor this morning to more than 200 people who participated in the Governors Walk for Life which started at the Unagi Field in Gordons and ended at the Ela Beach Amphi theater.
Governor Powes Parkop encouraged the citizens to be concerned about their health and taking part in such activity to keep fit is important as we are all responsible for our own health.
On the 31st January 2016 they will dedicate their walk for Cervical Cancer and Breast cancer that kills most of our women population in the country.
The crowd went through some warm down exercises led by Ypgabatics Youth for Change Group.
The Yogabatics then put on some sizzling performance which got the crowd hyped-up and everyone enjoyed themselves this morning.

WALK for life Port Moresby has now been recognised by the International Olympic Committee

WALK for life Port Moresby has now been recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and has asked NCD Governor Powes Parkop to endorse its bid for a program called the active city program.

“The Active City Program is being coordinated and submitted through the PNG Olympic Committee and we will submit the bid ASAP! It is in recognition for the role walk for life contributes to fitness, health and wellness to our city residents and how it also mobilises them, and these values that walk for life promotes are in line with values and virtues promoted by the IOC,” said Mr Parkop.

When making this announcement yesterday at the Ela Beach amphitheater during the Youth United Rhythms Extravaganza – a pre-Christmas show featuring young talent, the Governor also said that some funding of fifty thousand kina, a pledge, from the National Gaming Board would also enhance the walk for life drive in 2016 in which bush tracking walks of places such a third Kokoda Trail Walk (for walk for life), a feat of Mount Michael in the Eastern Highlands Province and Mount Wilhelm in the Chimbu province are also part of the 2016 schedule.

He said that the recent walk in Manus was 34 kilometers from the South to the North and in 2016 it will be from the North to the South. According to the Governor, these walks not only improve fitness and health but also provides so many opportunities.As per the World Health Organization survey, if one walks 30 mins each week they live longer.The United Nations in which 179 countries are affiliated to, also say that yoga is a holistic way of life program.

“I have huge plans for 2016. These life changing programs like walk for life, yoga, the ongoing infrastructure road developments are all part of changing the mindset and image of our city. Also this week on Tuesday, 8th December, 2015 (tomorrow) I will be introducing music classes,” said Mr Parkop.“Living healthy is most paramount. We need to change our lifestyle and set a good foundation. The biggest killer in PNG is lifestyle disease. There are not many old people these days because people are now dying young. We need to change our lifestyle and live longer and make sure our children have a strong foundation for the future. When our children see us practicing a healthy lifestyle that we live,we will be a better nation in the future. We need to reaffirm the message and take action to address the problem,” said the Governor.

He added that also in 2016, the walk for life program would also introduce a loyalty package, meaning that whoever participates the most would receive a reward, maybe a free health check or a tracking trip package around the country to loyal walkers who dedicate themselves in staying fit and healthy.“I really want our city to change and apart from these healthy programs I am also pushing for settlements and villages within NCD to be upgraded to suburbs. They must have all amenities. They must receive allotments and be sensationalized and receive land titles, because once we empower our people in the settlements and villages in this way they start feeling good about themselves and build new houses and buy new cars and work hard, live healthy and then the society will change,” said Mr Parkop.


Settling as an expat in Port Moresby – a personal account

When we started making plans to relocate as a family from Port Vila in Vanuatu to Port Moresby, the overwhelming reaction from our expatriate friends was one of negativity and caution (“it’s too dangerous there”, “there is nothing to do in Port Moresby”, “how can you do this to your children?”) and I had to combat the occasional feeling of guilt, given that the Happy Isles of Vanuatu had indeed been a wonderful place for us as a family. As I gathered more information about our new temporary home, I found that Port Moresby is considered the third least liveable city out of 140 cities worldwide, ranked just above Damascus and Dhaka. Port Moresby’s overall liveability rating was 38.9 (anything under 50 reflects a situation where most aspects of living are severely restricted). After arriving here in early July, briefings on the security situation organised by my husband’s employer and accounts by expats who had been living here for a while further increased my sense of unease, fear and anxiety. At expat get-togethers stories of violent car-jackings and robberies are popular conversation topics. As a result, I envisaged myself spending most of my time at home, afraid to leave except for the most essential trips to the supermarket or to school. Fortunately, the reality quickly turned out to be rather different.

Bushwalk in Port Moresby Hills (2)There is no doubt that our daily lives are considerably restricted by security concerns. A thriving security industry employing thousands of people is concerned with the security of expats and comparatively wealthy Papua New Guineans. This security industry has a strong interest in maintaining the present perception of a high level of security risk. We have received a range of security devices that we carry around and keep in the car, we have adjusted our driving style, we use an armed escort for trips in the dark or into unknown areas, and we do not walk in public areas. In addition, we avoid certain areas within Port Moresby altogether and on the few occasions that we have traveled out of town, we have done so in a convoy of many cars. Our house also has several security features, in addition to its location in a secure compound. In other words, the actual risk of becoming a victim of crime can be reduced, while it is still possible to participate in outdoors activities. The terrain around Port Moresby lends itself to unforgettable bushwalking experiences with frequent panoramic views of the Coral Sea. These walks have to be done as part of an organised group, not only due to the security situation, but also because of the lack of signposts, and the fact that landowners’ prior permission is required. While some people might consider this restrictive, there are few capital cities in the world that offer similar bush-walking opportunities in their vicinity. In addition, there are snorkeling and diving opportunities just off Port Moresby – evidently, one needs access to a boat or has to join a group, but again, how many capital cities even offer the opportunity for snorkeling or diving day trips?

Apart from the natural beauty around Port Moresby, there are several other positive living aspects. The range of grocery products available in supermarkets is impressive, with some of the supermarkets looking more like an Australian Woolworths than supermarkets in developing Pacific Island countries. The local fruits are excellent. There are cinemas, shopping malls, and a good variety of restaurants. Compared to Port Vila, Port Moresby’s climate is very pleasant and the risk of natural disasters is considerably lower. In addition, lots of developments are currently underway in connection with PNG’s hosting of major regional events, including the 2015 Pacific Games and the 2018 APEC summit. Indeed, Port Moresby’s cityscape has been transformed substantially since my last visit in 2008 and now features many characteristics of a truly big city, both in the positive and negative sense. At all levels of the housing market rents in Port Moresby have gone through the roof, but, in contrast to many other developing countries, quality housing is available for those willing to pay exorbitant rents.

Ela Beach Craft MArket (3)Probably partly as a result of the admittedly challenging living situation in Port Moresby, the expat community is welcoming and helpful. There are always social events happening and newcomers are quickly integrated. Everyone’s paths cross regularly at the few venues frequented by expats: the Saturday morning craft markets with their amazing collection of paintings, carvings, woven articles and other craft items from all over Papua New Guinea and live entertainment with music and dances; the Royal Papua Yacht Club; Vision City and the Waterfront; as well as The Ela Murray International School for families with children.

One fact we appreciate about Port Moresby is its proximity to Australia. Our children grew up in the Pacific and Israel/Palestine and we are happy that they are now exposed to and can participate in an Australian way of life to a greater extent than in any other place where they have lived, preparing them for an eventual return to their country of birth. Australians are the dominant group of expats. The shared history and geographical proximity between New Guinea and Australia is very pronounced. Some places in Port Moresby look like they have been taken out of Australia and planted in Port Moresby – the Yacht Club comes to mind – other places are significant for the psyche of both nations – Bomana War Cemetery and Owers’ Corner, the southern end of the Kokoda Track. The landmasses of New Guinea and Australia became separated only when the area now known as the Torres Strait flooded after the end of the last glacial period. As a result, the two countries share a similar fauna with kangaroos (tree kangaroos in PNG’s case), wallabiespossums and cuscuses, echidnas, and cassowaries to name but a few. On a practical level, there are several flights a day from Port Moresby to Cairns and Brisbane.

Loloata Island near Port Moresby

Some expats choose to spend a few years in Port Moresby for the additional allowances that most companies and organisations pay their employees as compensation for living in such a challenging place. There is also a sizeable group of expats roaming the Pacific, working for regional organisations or companies with branches in various countries, many of whom will sooner or later end up spending some time in PNG. We know several expats as well as Papua New Guineans, now living in Port Moresby, who used to live in Fiji or Vanuatu at the same time as us. And then there are those who have fallen in love with PNG and with what makes it such a special country: the diversity of its people, the dramatic landscape, the beautiful fauna and flora. A few weeks ago, we were privileged to witness the week leading up to the Independence Day Holiday with its associated events and performances. Many Papua New Guineans display two or three different flags of their ancestral provinces and wear costumes and colours from all corners of the country. The rich culture and enormous diversity within the population is difficult to grasp and is part of what makes Papua New Guineans enormously proud of their country and the political independence gained from Australia 39 years ago. Accordingly, the greeting around the Independence Day Holiday is “Happy Independence”, rather than the expected “Happy Independence Day”.

Economically, there are challenging times ahead for the PNG government, most importantly the question on how to translate the country’s wealth and rapidly increasing government revenues into social development at the grass roots level. I feel privileged that I will be doing research into exactly this question as part of my attachment with the National Research Institute as an ANU academic. The population of Papua New Guinea is several times that of all other Pacific Island countries taken together and the scale of issues is vastly different. I also feel privileged to be based in an institution staffed by Papua New Guineans, and to have an opportunity to learn from my colleagues over the next couple of years. In contrast to the doubts before moving here, I now look forward to what awaits me in this extraordinary country.

Carmen Voigt-Graf is a Fellow at the Development Policy Centre, and a Senior Research Fellow at the National Research Institute in Papua New Guinea.

Important Points Presented in this article

  1. This security industry has a strong interest in maintaining the present perception of a high level of security risk.
  2. Indeed, Port Moresby’s cityscape has been transformed substantially since my last visit in 2008 and now features many characteristics of a truly big city, both in the positive and negative sense
  3. Economically, there are challenging times ahead for the PNG government, most importantly the question on how to translate the country’s wealth and rapidly increasing government revenues into social development at the grass roots level.


Hundreds Participate In PNG ‘Walk Against Corruption’- Transparency International PNG organized annual event

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 27, 2013) – The Ombudsman Commission has urged all citizens to report and break the cycle of corruption in society.

This was the main message from Acting Chief Ombudsman Commissioner Phoebe Sangetari when addressing participants at the Jack Pidik Park at 5-Mile for the annual Sir Anthony Siaguru Walk Against Corruption in Port Moresby yesterday.

The walk was facilitated by Transparency International (PNG).

Sangetari told participants not to turn a blind eye on corrupt practices anymore.

“Report corruption, for too long we have turned our backs on corruption. You can be the part of the solution to break the cycle or be part of the cycle.”

“You as an individual must make a change and everyone else would want to follow you. Your behaviour and attitude will affect the others around you.”

She encouraged individuals to be role models in the communities by being the change.

“You be the beacon of hope and together we can fight corruption and do more than just take part in this walk.”

She said the first and most important step to take against corruption was to say no and to act on what each individual believed in a transparent society.

The second step she pointed out was for individuals to respect and enforce the laws that were in place.

“PNG is filled with laws yet we take shortcuts and we don’t follow them. This disease is eating all the fabrics of society and affecting every walk of life.”

“The fight against corruption should not be left to TIPNG, Ombudsman Commission and the police, it’s everyone’s business.”

TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens stressed that corruption has caused disharmony in society and prevented basic services from being delivered.

“PNG wants to say no and I hope we will continue to say no (to corruption),” he said.

More than 350 people took part in the annual Sir Anthony Siaguru Walk Against Corruption in Port Moresby yesterday.

[PIR editor’s note: Another 500+ people participated in the first Walk of Corruption conducted in Lae.]

The Transparency International (PNG) led walk was into its seventh year this year with the theme “Be the Change!” which calls for individuals to be the change in their communities.

The purpose of the walk was to create awareness of corruption, provide citizens an opportunity to demonstrate their opposition to corruption and raise funds for the Siaguru Endowment Fund (SEF).

The SEF is a back stream of funds which would ensure the future operations of TIPNG in the event that donors cease their support towards the institution.

The Jack Pidik Park at 5Mile was filled with various teams from government departments, schools, civil society organizations, business houses and families all in their uniforms and carried banners with anti corruption messages.

The walk began after six thirty in the morning led by acting Chief Ombudsman Commissioner Phoebe Sangetari and TIPNG chairman Lawrence Stephens followed by teams chanting their war cries to weed out corruption.

The walk began at the park, then through Boroko Drive, past Kaubebe Street, to Lahara Avenue then out to the Hubert Murray Highway and back to the starting point.

The event was also held in Kokopo, Kimbe, Madang, Alotau, Lihir, Kavieng and Lae on Saturday and yesterday of which more than 6, 000 people participated.



The Melanesian Way in a modern society


“A long time ago, our people discovered the secret of life — live well, love well, have something good for every person and die a happy death” – the late Bernard Narokobi in his book ‘Melanesian Way’

OUR PEOPLE have for thousands of years lived in relatively independent societies. They managed their resources efficiently to cater for their needs. They lived in harmony with their environment if not always with their neighbours.

The environment was the source of their physical, spiritual and intellectual nourishment. They fed on the food it provided, the lessons it taught and the mythical spirits it harboured. The environment defined them and confined them to a locality such that there is an enormous diversity of linguistic, cultural and phenotypical features of tribes, even within the same region.

Everyone was deeply rooted to the land of their forefathers and fought to defend the integrity of the tribe. While individuals had certain property rights, such as the ownership of personal artifacts of value, the land was owned communally.

Hence the fruits of the land were regarded as communally owned and, as such, everyone in society expected a fair share – not necessarily an equal portion. This balancing act between the interests of the individual against those of the tribe is what I refer to as the Melanesian Equilibrium.

The Melanesian Equilibrium was the genius of our forefathers who juggled with the Economic Problem – human wants are infinite while the means of satisfying those wants are scarce.

Many beliefs, laws, values, practices and systems of social, economic and political organisation were aimed at achieving that balance. Hunting, gardening, fishing, marriage, birth and death all had cultural norms aimed at satisfying everyone and maintaining social order.

This is indeed still the case in many traditional Melanesian communities despite contact with the outside world. Melanesians in remote, isolated communities depend on their traditions as a means of survival. The modern State has little or no influence in how they live their lives.

It is this perceived ‘normality’ in many rural communities that sometimes causes western educated Melanesians to dispute references to poverty in Melanesia. This is what Sir Michael Somare was referring to when he told the Australian Press Club the no one in Papua New Guinea was going hungry.

Is it poverty, if a rural Telefomin man only wears astanget and does not own a laplap? Is it poverty that a child in Balimo eats sago for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

How do you define poverty and wealth in this present time when Melanesians live in two realities? We live in the reality of our ancestral land and in the reality of the modern State that exists on that land. Our cultural practices are as relevant to us as modern medicine, science and political organisation.

The failures of our modern State is not a reflection of the failure of our Melanesian traditions. In fact, the modern State has been arrogant and ignorant of the wisdom of traditional Melanesia.

Unlike our feudal Polynesian and Asian neighbors, we traditionally recognised leadership based on merit. It was always the strength of traditional Melanesian societies. Warrior leaders defended tribal lands and wise elders decided on gardening, trading missions, marriages, etc.

In the modern State, anyone can buy leadership, buy resources, buy decisions and buy their way anywhere. Instead of protecting the national interest, the State is a tool for pursuing personal ambitions.

The modern State steals from its people under legal pretexts of Constitutions and Acts of Parliament. Instead of sharing the fruits of the land with the people, individual purses are enriched.

Traditional Melanesian governance worked because the people and their leadership were always accountable to one and other. More importantly, the people had direct contact with the leadership and could shape decisions in the interest of the majority. That is not the case with the political arrangements of the modern State.

Modern leaders live in foreign countries or the national capital and are rarely with their people. There is a disconnect between both parties, thus the people are never heard or the leadership simply ignores their cries. The electoral cycle allows leaders to be totally unaccountable for five years at a time. Democracy lasts only as long as polling.

The Melanesian Equilibrium has been tried and tested for millennia, and that Melanesians continue to survive within that reality is testament to its robustness.

It is about leaders chosen on merit and being held accountable. It is about wise planning and decision-making based on respect for the people’s wishes and environmental sustainability.

It is about warriors defending the national interest and sovereignty. It is about a population educated to be of use to society. Above all it is about the fear of God and respect for the rule of Law.

Many Melanesians have sadly forgotten what defines them and how they came to be. Caught up in materialism, cargo cult, and the lure of power they will do anything to get what they want; even at the expense of their fellow citizens.


The Importance of traditional cultures and indigenous practices

We loved and enjoyed the dance but tired now and know nothing about what it means?”

We have heard comments that our cultures and traditions are old-fashioned; they hold back progress in nation building and that we should completely forget about them and adopt new ways of life. Some say they are ‘dirty’ and ‘primitive’. They are perceived as negative by the new generation. Adding on all these claims, a report by the Pacific Women Against Violence (Volume 1, Issue 10) stated that Pacific Islands cultures and unequal relationship between men and women contribute largely to violence against women in the region. But the report then challenges its own findings that domestic violence is an international problem that is thriving locally – not alone grown by Melanesian way of life.

Many of us do not agree with all these comments because some of us are living examples of what our cultures and traditions did for us when we were young. They helped us develop and mould our attitudes and characters to be productive, useful, purposely and progressive lives. Many of us reject immoral living and corruption, laziness and conning. Hunger for wealth, power and glory are unknown in our cultural and traditional ways of life. This is complemented by a jewel of thought coined by Thomas Burke: “I wish it would possible for every child to spend its first 10 years close to the soil, tracing the cultures and traditions. If I had had children of my own I would, at any convenience to myself, have moved to the country – in the village just enough to grasp the atmosphere of the practices of the cultures and traditions, and not alone for considerations of their physical health.

I would have them brought up in the country so that for the rest of their lives they should have had a mental background of the fields and trees and wide skies and the smell of the earth and the riches of cultures and traditions. Upon this basic culture all that they might later acquire would, I know, have grown more readily and more richly than it grows in the town child. The town child has no roots. He has quick brains, sharp moments, keen understanding of men; but he is an unfinished product.

“To have no cultural and traditional and country background to your memories is equal to having no education. Lover of town as I am, I realise that I owe a dept to my early country life. Again and again, in hours of disquiet, I have gone back in spirit to those country days of childhood, and have always found something in recollected smell of the earth and picture of my old village to rest upon”.

The Papua New Guinea’s rich traditional cultures and indigenous systems may be lost if not regularly and with passionate practiced, properly recorded and preserved, and proudly and widely promoted. The young generation today need to practice the rich cultures of the country so that they are preserved for the future generations. Our traditions and cultures will be lost if they are not passed on. Papua New Guinea has very unique cultures and ways of life, but these were at high risk with western influence. The blending of one culture with another also had the potential of killing off cultures. The challenge is to preserve our cultures by practicing and making them part of our lives. We must make an effort to sustain our cultures and not to depend on others.

We now find ourselves caught in between two contemporary cultures – the traditional and the western culture. Most young Papua New Guineans today find it difficult to accept both cultures. And the odds are that they will neglect the traditional ones in favour of the western. Many of us think that those who neglect the traditional cultures have no roots or trace of their origin. “During World War II, for instance, over six million Jews were killed through gas chambers, bombs, guns, etc. But were the Jews erased from the face of the earth? The answer is No. And they will never be flushed, annihilated or washed off as long as they keep their skullcaps and long flowing gowns. It is only when you don’t see a trace of their culture anywhere anymore, which they stop to exist. So if we do not feed our children with our Melanesian cultures and traditions, teach them our languages, our dances, our folklore and songs, our fashion, indeed the totality of our Melanesian life style, our future will lose its identity and we may begin to wonder if we are Australians, Indonesians or just a nation of shadows blending into shapes and dark patches.

Many of our children today cannot speak their mother tongue, neither can they know where they come from. I quote Mathew Yakai in what he wrote while studying in Japan to Sir Paulias Matane on the subject of “Culture, Tradition is my identify” in the Times Traveler Column in The National newspaper that most of our young people are moving away from our Melanesian cultures and traditions. Mathew wrote, “Most of the young people are unable to speak their mother tongues. They do not even know their origins. When I was at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), I asked a small boy of mixed Tari and Ialibu parentage living at Morata about his original village. He said that he was from Morata! That gives me an indication of how parents bring up their children.
“On another occasion, while at UPNG, I shared a dining with a Motu girl. The lunch was rice, kaukau and fried chicken with lettuce. When I tried to give her some pieces of kaukau, she refused saying she do not eat local or traditional food!

“Here in Japan, I am trying my best to improve Japanese and English. One reason for doing this is that I believe that I will be an asset to Papua New Guinea in trade negotiations. The more I learn these things, the more I move away from my cultures, languages and family ties. Having traveled to several countries in Asia like South Korea, China and Japan itself, I found people in these countries treasure their cultures and traditional values”.

The state of recording and preservation of Papua New Guinea’s rich and diverse cultural heritage is shocking and ‘absolutely shameful’. Funds and interest have dwindled over the 30 years. Don Niles of Institute of PNG Studies said that AID donors and development partners must learn that the maintenance of traditional cultures and indigenous knowledge surely represents Papua New Guinea’s unique contributions to the world. It is just as essential as building road or health centres. And that is more important than many other activities that seems to be trapped financially.

Our culture is important to the future of our children and to our nation, because culture ensures a history, a past, present and certainly a future.

“It is therefore important, and absolutely necessary, to hand down such an important birthright and inheritance to an informed and prepared generation. The future of this nation lies in the hands of our children. They are our future! And they must carry our identity. They deserve to be cared for, directed aright, nurtured, and cultured, and prepared ready for the future of this nation.

“By the way, what is culture? And why is it important? Culture has been defined generally as the totality of the way of life evolved by a people in their attempts to meet the challenges of living in their environment which gives order and meaning to their social, political, economic, aesthetic and religious norms and modes of organisation, thus distinguishing a people form their neighbours. Culture should not be interpreted merely as a return to the customs of the past. It embodies the attitude of a people to the future of their traditional values faced with the demands of modern technology, which is an essential factory of development and progress.

“A cultural policy is very important in order to incorporate such an essential part of our history into our general national development process, because culture, as a force, has both its own economic and political consequences in the life of any nation. The simple meaning to the importance of culture is that without culture, a national is as good as extinct, erased from the surface of the earth, blotted out and, an existence without dignity or recognition. The only way to wipe out a people from the face of the earth is to take away their culture.

Increasingly, recognition of indigenous people’s intellectual properties has a usefulness which could be developed into lucrative commodities. For example, this could be in the area of traditional medicine. Many thanks to the National Executive Council (NEC) for recently approving a national policy on traditional medicine for Papua New Guinea which the Health Department has been directed to monitor the implementation and coordination of the policy nationwide and build a national database on traditional herbs and its practitioners. In this break-through initiative, the Department of Attorney General and Justice has been directed to look into issues of owners’ rights, a compensation regime under the existing legislation and to review the Medicine and Cosmic Act, the Copyright Act and the Intellectual Property Rights Act for the incorporation of traditional medicines immediately.

“When we talk of self-reliance, self-sufficiency and national identify as the core of our national development, we refer to culture as the fountain spring of all policies whether educational, social, political, medical or economical. Our strategies of national development would therefore depend on the understanding of the culture, the adaptation of its elements for political, educational and economic development as well as its strengths for social integration and development.Advertisements