Finding unity in diversity


PAPUA New Guinea is the most linguistically-diverse nation of the world, and given that Madang has the greatest number of languages in the country, province-wise, could Madang not be the most ethnically-diverse province on Earth?
Madang has, an estimated, over 160 languages or language-speaking ethnic groups of people.
This is richness in its own right.
The province that has the next highest number of languages has only less than 100.
Find a way of making value out of languages and we will be the most privileged nation in the world.
On Oct 29, an article by Frank Senge Kolma, published in The National’s The Weekender, titled “Tower of Babel principle: Unity but for diversity”, shed light on and analyses the Biblical anecdote and impresses a reflection of that upon the PNG context.
For Babel, God humbled mankind his excessive conceited pride and the pursuit for self-­glorification by creating many languages.
What ensued was misunderstanding, confusion, disintegration and separation.
For Madang, and PNG, the inverse of Babel is at play – someone proclaimed, on our behalf, our “unity in diversity” on our Independence upon an already divided (disintegrated) group of peoples.
In addition, the spirit of separation had neither been neutralised nor extinguished but suppressed its activeness firstly by lack of exposure (or isolation) and secondly by the bullying ways of the colonial administration.
What our Independence did is that it erased both these suppressants – gone is the colonial administration only to be replaced by the exotic Westminster system of government that we adopted, and our various once isolated tribes or traditional societies given more exposure with more freedom.
What our Independence failed to do was it neither extinguished nor neutralised the “separatist” spirit of tribalism or regionalism to envoke a spirit of oneness, understanding, acceptance (or tolerance) and responsibility.
Could all these events in our history be the causes of systemic corruption and systematic corruption which late Sir Mekere Morauta spoke of?
Could these then be the cause and fuel for sentiments behind the autonomy agenda that provinces are now passionately advocating?
As provinces now push for autonomy, it should also be the moment for Madang – the most ethnically and societally diverse province in PNG – to reflect on and reassess her preparedness for autonomy.

Nelson Tai