Happy 46th birthday, PNG


TOMORROW is a day just as any other, but what it represents should stimulate in each one of us a sense of belonging and purpose.
This is a vital ingredient for any group which assumes a bond as final and all-encompassing as being considered a nation.
We have a lot to be thankful for and conversely, there are situations and circumstances which keep us from achieving our full potential.
Firstly, let us start with what is right and good about our beloved country and its citizenry.
We are a unique and diverse people.
Yes, we are Melanesians and share many traits and characteristics and attitudes, but the marvel of being from Papua New Guinea (PNG) is that we are many distinct languages, cultures and societies intertwined to form the PNG identity.
Anthropologists and linguists have classified PNG as on a plane of its own.
Some 800 languages and accompanying cultures say we are a rarity on earth.
Another quality which separates us from others is our passion for life, land and liberty.
But quite often, we tend to ignore this fact or we just take it for granted.
Many other countries in the world with fewer ethno-diverse populations have crumbled under the weight of social pressures.
The challenges are truly daunting for the 7 million plus Papua New Guineans.
They include deteriorating public infrastructure (roads, bridges, State schools, hospitals and prisons), an ailing health system that struggles to provide even the most basic healthcare to the majority and a crime rate that does not look like coming under control without massive spending in recruitment and training of police personnel and the improvement of logistical capabilities and correctional services.
Other areas that need serious attention is the country’s ability to effectively educate its burgeoning young population and the other is making a concerted effort to curb the instances of maladministration in and the mismanagement, misuse, abuse and wastage of public funds meant for the upkeep of the aforementioned services.
Thankfully though, the people of this country are both resilient and resourceful and have managed to carry on under trying circumstances.
We are still together; managing our problems, seeing out each passing year, meeting the challenges and growing with the experience.
This year’s celebrations will be the first without the person who led PNG to independence, the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, who passed away in February.
Sir Michael led PNG to independence on Sept 16, 1975, and became the country’s longest-serving MP and one of the Pacific’s most prominent and respected leaders.
Reflecting on his life journey, one can see many life lessons he leaves behind. His daughter Dulciana Somare-Brash, in her eulogy, said: “At the centre of my father’s political longevity was a single chiefly skill that few people possess or will master. My father was a good listener. From this one great gift emerged his undeniable ability to create trust, embolden relationships and reciprocate loyalty with grace. As a great listener, he was able to charismatically charm people while delivering his eternal message of great faith and hope for his first true love, Papua New Guinea. My father’s basic formula relied on an innate tendency to become invisible so that others could be visible.”
“He forgave people who brought harm, humiliation and intense conflict; as he himself had originally offered them the right to act and speak and to think independently when he fought fearlessly over different phases of our democracy for both our political and economic independence.”
Tomorrow marks another year into our history; there will surely be many more to come.
It is a blessing.

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