By ELLEN TIAMU
Mali Kanaba has been diligently buying a newspaper every day for 31 years.
Not just any newspaper, but The National, Papua New Guinea’s biggest selling daily.
I caught up with Mali, from Western at the weekend at the Friendship Hostel where he is a guard. I have been visiting the ‘girls’ hostel for several months already but the shy, softly spoken 55-year-old man initially did not want to spill the beans on his habit. It was only last Saturday that he revealed his little secret, although his family and friends were already aware of his passion to want to know what’s happening around the country and around the world.
“If I miss buying a paper, I feel that part of my daily routine is not done and I my mind is unsettled.”
Mali reads everything, from front to back, and with his shift at the hostel not so hectic during the day, he has plenty of time to browse through the news.
“I’ll continue buying the newspaper until I die,” he said.
On days when he doesn’t have the money, Mali will someone to lend him K1. As if to back up his story, he beckoned me to the door of the guardhouse as disappeared inside. I peered into the small room and it wasn’t difficult for me to notice a stash of newspapers neatly bundled in a corner.
“I keep them (a newspaper file) here for about six months or so, and then I either give them away or sell them,” he told me.
In fact, women at the hostel or friends wanting to quickly check on the news in the mornings ask to borrow his newspaper.
Mali’s obsession with the news handsomely paid off for him in 2008 when he won a major prize in a competition run by The National. He was working as a security guard at Westpac Boroko at the time.
“At the end of 2007, the newspaper ran a competition and I entered although winning was far from my mind.”
“On 2nd January 2008, I got a call from a lady at The National asking me if I had entered the competition.
“I said ,‘Yes’, and she asked that if I were to win, what would I like. I said maybe the K1000 shopping voucher would be of great help to me and my family.”
The woman paused for a while and then broke the good news.
“You have won the first prize Mali, you have won the Hilux single cab.”
Mali couldn’t believe his ears. Shocked, he placed the phone down, and unable to contain his joy he cried. He went to the newspaper office later that afternoon and picked up his truck. He jokes that his winning the major prize in that competition could have been a blessing in disguise for his diligence and support for the newspaper over the years.
Mali was formerly a Correctional Services officer having worked in Mt Hagen and Wewak as well as Port Moresby.
He retired after 20 years and now lives with his wife, three children and three grandchildren in Port Moresby and works with City Security Services.
By ELLEN TIAMU