A Colourful Nation Denied of its Reward

Author: Countryside

One of the joys of growing up in PNG is to the big sing sings that happen yearly or even the colourful church activities.  I vividly remember Independence Day and the host of color from all part of the country.  From the majestic plums drifting on the head pieces of the mighty men and women of the highlands, electrifying rhythmic chants and drums from the New Guinea islands, carvings and dances that depict mystical stories of the momase people and the spectacular nautical innovations of the tribes from the southern region. 
So things are not the same, we have lost some of our old ways and we are sometimes accused of not honoring our culture.  But we have been progressive and as a result, we have forged an identity that resonates a nation of many tongues.  From Patti Doi and Betty Toea’s music booming in PMVs that are owned by Highlanders, colorful fabrics that depict tapa patterns from the Orokaiva worn by our sisters and mothers, bilums from the highlands carrying our precious love ones, delicacies rich in nutrients that was only available in the rivers, islands and highlands are now available to everyone.
Our culture indeed transcends our way of life but with the absence of political and policy direction, this resource has been underutilized and in some tragic instances, stolen, abused and lost.  So the question has to be asked, is it worth investing our resources to protect, promote and preserve our culture and heritage?  Apart from nostalgic and patriotic excitement, is it worth it?  Absolutely. 
It separates us from the rest of the world, it provides us the unique opportunity to help humanity from fighting diseases to resolving conflicts, and more importantly, to empower our people to move away from poverty.  Indeed for many years, economic, industry and investment planners have not looked at the possibility of the culture, or to be more generic, the creative industry, as a tool for growth. 
A few entities have been burning the torch for this sector.  From the tireless efforts of the National Cultural Commission in preserving and promoting our culture here and abroad, super artists Jeffery and his brother Mairi Feeger blowing the international scene by storm, legendary musos Auirikeke, Ben Hakalitz, Telek and the darling of the garment industry, Florence Bilum Lady Jauke are all making major inroads internationally.  But guys, this is only a speck of what’s in our country.    Take some time and wonder in and out of the craft markets, church activities, clubs, galleries and even the bus stops, you’ll see the talent of our people. 
But tragically like anything when it comes to money, those that want to make it ride on the talented and end up sucking them dry.  From paying them merely nothing for the creativity they’ve done, pirating designs and music and outright theft.  Many of our people in the creative industry are dying without knowing there rights.  They live in a cage that their employees, agents and promoters do n’t tell them what that they are entitled to.  From song writers, performers, sound engineers, artisans, dance troopes, cultural groups, weavers, carvers, traditional medicinal owners and many others are been denied of their wealth.
They need to usurp these rights so that they may be rewarded of their creativity and heritage.  These rights will ensure users are able to pay them fees so that they may feed and clothe their children and more importantly, continue creating their products or preserving culture.  Whether intellectual property and traditional knowledge protection, our people need to move into this area so that their rights are protected and they are able to utilize it for wealth creation in the market place. 
So next time when you purchase a pirated CD, Made In China crap flogging it off as a PNG design, bullshit food that’s not from our land or designs on fabrics stolen, think of the people you have denied that revenue.      For it is their love of life we bathe ourselves of our identity.

4 thoughts on “A Colourful Nation Denied of its Reward

  1. Absolutely love this piece! Love the way the author appeals to the PNG in me.

    S/he is very right in saying that we must make an effort to preserve what is truly and uniquely ours. And may I add that all the crap about our colonial history be scraped completely from our history books and replaced with our real indigenous history. We have never been “claimed” by anyone but rather we were visited by some adventurous souls from some far away place all those years ago. So stop the bullshit about someone raising some fancy flag to claim us.

    A good natured and right thinking Yankee told me a few months back that Papua New Guineans need to go back and learn about our own history and stop learning about others and sucking up to them. On reflection, I wholeheartedly agree with him now. Knowing how good we have always been even before being visited will give us the strength, courage and drive to charge ahead and build a country that is truly Papua New Guinean in character and something we can all be proud of.

    We should learn a thing or two from the most successful indigenous country in the world – Japan.

    1. Well everyone we better start with this LNG project.

      It seems that 50% of the money borrowed from UAE that bought PNG in as a participating partner has disappeared.
      What now? any suggestions.

  2. I am a very passionate individual when the issue before me are life changing for any race or individual I will say my two bob.I just can not sit by and let money hungry human beings(Asian or other aliens)keep on using good natured PNGs for their own end time and again.
    What is needed is the Govenment of the day to get into their greedy numskull bribery corrupted mind that they have to invest in the human re tsources of the Nation of PNG as Australia and other developed world do.They invest in their childrens well being beacuse they realise that those children will be the future of their nations.So much is put towards the betterment of those children from kindergarden/play school/daycare etc until and when those children go to primary through to high schools ,Tafe colleges,and other tertiary institutions and universities.
    So by the time this individaul comes out they are able to have a pretty good idea about what they as a human can do for themselves and their nations.We in PNG have never had this opportunity unfortunately.

    You see we need to learn our way through life and that goes towards everything, including how best we can keep our Culture Rights and all else that pertains to ones cultural intricacy and making a living out from it.That is why PNGs have always sold their Cultural Rights they simply do not know how to go about earning money from it and “keeping it within the family”.Instead they did what they did because nobody has said to them you can make money from your “save” regarding your culture.

    There should be a night and day classes going all over the country so people can go to these classes to better themselves.Right now there one or two classes runned by individuals(this is their bread and butter).They are called Life style classes.

    You what one can run a pisin class for end hour and charge fees accordingly,or how to sewing or cooking,or how to cut hair so and so fort.These lifestyle classes are just some of the ways PNGs can make their living.I mean there are accounting and even finish your high school classes;all it depends on is few PNGs to get these ideas rolling.

    Do not do away with the past teachings in our schools,we just need to balance them out so our children can have a informed opinion to make if and when need be.We do not want children to be narrow minded so lets just balance out the past and the present and future.

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