By MICHAEL DOM
ON MONDAY, Dec 7, 2020 Engan author Daniel Kumbon launched Victory Song of Pingeta’s Daughter, a 400-page book which attempts to trace the history of the Wabag district and Enga in general. This culturally valuable epic book was launched without fanfare and it is unlikely the author will ever make a toea from it. But that’s normal in PNG!
Keith Jackson wrote in the PNG Attitude blog that “PNG history has most often been told by the colonisers but now home-grown authors are offering another view. Prolific author Daniel Kumbon’s latest work, Victory Song, tells the true story of a highlands family from first western contact to today.”
That sounds like a book a few of our MPs might have an interest in championing, or perhaps not?
Earlier on in July 2019 Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas, Wabag MP Dr Lino Tom, Education Secretary Dr Uke Kombra, two National Court judges, school principals, bookshop managers and other prominent people received copies of four books published by the prominent writer.
Then Minister for Finance, and soon-to-be Prime Minister, James Marape was also presented with four copies of Daniel’s self-published books.
Daniel expressed optimism that “the new government would at least see the significance of literature and the role it plays in nation building”.
“Literature has the ability to provide knowledge and improve the quality of education in a country like ours where poor literacy rates remain the greatest challenge for people who continue to lack proper educational facilities.”
Daniel also commented that “there is no official encouragement for Papua New Guinean writers but for those involved in its pursuit, literature gives us the greatest satisfaction to record history in draft form for the benefit of future generations.”
However, by November of the same year Daniel reported that he and fellow writers Betty Wakia and Caroline Evari “were struggling to tell our prime minister that literature is very important”.
A year ago our three colleagues were so sure that the prime minister would accept our writer’s petition. But the disappointment was no surprise.
This year we want to hear from our people instead.
At Ples Singsing Papua Niuginian Writer’s Blog we believe that supporting PNG authors for PNG readers is a practical way to “Take Back PNG” because we will be giving back to PNG those stories (fiction and non-fiction) that already belong to us and that encompass who we are and what we value in our society.
Promoting PNG writers means rewarding PNG readers and encouraging PNG thinkers.
It is also important that PNG writers and published authors understand the thoughts and opinions of their audience. This means that we need to hear different opinions and gather more suggestions about the cause of our petition.
We want to read essays from our youth, students in secondary schools, technical, vocational and teachers colleges, and universities. We believe that hearing from you is the best way to determine the value of our cause and decide the way we want to achieve our goal.
This is why we have launched the Tingting Bilong Mi 2020 Essay Competition.
This privately-funded writing contest has a five-year lifespan and aims to engage with youth aged between 16 to 36 years of age who are currently enrolled in an educational institute.
The essay competition was launched on Dec 1, 2020 and ends on Jan 31, 2021. Entry is free to all Papua New Guinean citizens living in-country. Three winners will be announced at the start of the first school term at a date to be set in February 2021.
Tell us why you think the PNG Government should/should not buy PNG authored books.
We’ll compile the best essays into a book and even have a copy delivered to the PM’s office.
Awards, judging and benefits
All entries will be prejudged by a blind panel of six published PNG writers and final judging of the top 10 will be completed by Phil Fitzpatrick (Australian author) and Fiona Hukula (PNG academic and researcher).
Best entries will be published in the Post Courier and The National newspapers.
Well written essays may receive minimum editing for posting on Ples Singsing and PNG Attitude blogs.
Cash prizes offered are first place K500, second K300 and third K200.
The three winners will each receive two books by PNG authors valued at K50 each.
Selected essays will be collated into a book which will be published by JDT Independent Publishing, and the school or institute of the winning essayists will receive two copies for their library.
Exceptional and interested writers may be offered six months free coaching and mentoring by senior writers from PNG and abroad, from which they will be expected to produce one critical essay on a topic of their choice.
A small award ceremony may be held at a school in Port Moresby, Lae or Goroka dependent on logistical arrangements or otherwise books will be delivered by mail.
Download an entry form on the blog and email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
We look forward to reading what you think.
By MICHAEL DOM