By BIGA LEBASI
The MK term ‘namo herea’ points to ‘very good’.
Or there’s another word ‘hereadae’ which we believe is ‘excellent’… in Spanish ‘excellento’ and in my native Suau language of South Cape, Milne Bay Province, it is ‘lolo ali’alili’. Did we hear a reader say that is too long? Then try ‘kausala’!
Please note that here in Papua New Guinea (PNG) we have more than 800 languages and the number is still rising as linguists explore deeper to discover more!
Yes that’s what HB used to be in yesteryears. But I suppose you might argue the same applies to any community in the ‘developing’ world of territories or protectorates landgrabbed by white colonialists like Britain, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, The Netherlands… when they started carving up their territorial rights to native lands from the continents of Afrika, North and South America and island native communities in the Pacific Ocean region including the entire island of New Guinea (A part of it is now our independent state of PNG) and Australia and New Zealand.
Did we digress? Yes! Sorry. Back in the ‘50s growing up at my island mission called Kwato near Samarai, Milne Bay District, I began hearing a lot of nius (news) about Port Moresby being the biggest town in Papua. This was when my maternal uncle Merari Dickson was appointed Native Member of the Legislative Council. He was with Willie Gavera from Hanuabada and from over the range in the United Nations Territory of New Guinea were Aisoli Solin and Somu Sigob and …
In 1956, fortunately I was in the First Kwato Wolf Cub Pack and was selected to attend that year’s Scout Jamboree in, in have a wild guess…in Port Moresby! And was I elated to the 10th degree!
We left Kwato on the Government trawler the mv Huon and collected Scouts at Fyfe Bay then at Hula (Hood Point)…boy, I had never been so terribly sea sick and I was an island boy and I did feel so embarrassed to own up with my peers!
Geoffrey Baskett a taukuroro ( MK: caucasian) was our scout master but I clung to my mentors: my uncle Raleigh Ikudede and Esilimo Manase and Gideon Apok, from the New Hebrides, being trained boat building and carpentry at Kwato. They were in the First Kwato Sea Scout troop.
We sailed into thick fog, then the heavens opened with torrential rain. It cleared. And land ahoy! I sprang up from a smelly bed and rubbed eyes and trained them on my first glimpse of Ela Beach and the iconic Koke Market.
The traffic! At Kwato we had only one USA WW2 jeep! So imagine the gasps from this 14-year-old newbie to Port Moresby!
A line of cars travelling together and from opposite directions and they do not carsh..how come?
Alongside the main overseas wharf we disembarked and boarded a huge blue Government 30 pax bus, and I had my eyes glued on the big village sitting on stilts of eucalyptus (gum trees same as in Australia).
Now we leap into the future (Sogeri Secondary School 1959): Hila Morea invited me to spend the first term holidays at HB and I almost immediately started packing, never mind the fact that there in my suitcase was nothing suitable to wear in town, the biggest in Papua.
Hila and my first HB tura and class mate Harry Heni and the Willie brothers Arua and Rarua and there was also Gao Nao, and William Jim…the list went on.
Now I tell all and sundry that I was a little disappointed when Hila and I in tow, entered their house near the main street that runs across in and continued to Idubada, leaves, Porebada and..
Boys of the same feather flock together, and we the Sogeri chaps did so at HB and peer pressure was evident. We grouped, illegally drank liquor, smoked lose siga (MK slang for cigarette) and walked at eventide from Metoreia to Elevala and return repeatedly watching all the girls go by!
It was clean fun. We were maturing and enjoying the night life the big village had to offer us: we leapt it all up for there, at that time no television, no information technology era to redirect our longing for entertainment.
HB was then clean. It was predominantly Motu/Koitabu with a sprinkling or two of Gulf of Papua folks who had traditionally attached themselves to the MK through intermarriage ties as demanded by the then prevailing Hiri trade between them and the Gulf of Papua people: Kerema, Iokea, Motumotu, Ihu, Orokolo…today the HB population is spilling over the brim with uninvited influx of non-Motu Koitabu Papua New Guineans who tend to abuse the sacred rights and authority of the land owners in question.
Everyone in Port Moresby must now acknowledge the Motu-Koitabu. And give them the respect and love they deserve for it is their own land on which our national capital city is located.
“It is not what your country can do for you. Rather, it is what YOU can do for your country” – President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, inaugural speech, 1963.
We were well mannered, schooled and trained to be courteous and clinically clean. We respected authority which included our teachers who we, without fail addressed ‘Sir’ , nothing more, nothing less…
With respect and loyalty to Sogeri we, every morning from Monday to Saturday cut the lawns with grass knives, swept up the cuttings and other litter from the Ewirogo creek banks to the top of the hill where the Johnson’s of Koitaki rubber estate fame had their dairy cows chewing their cud.
Below this hill and another adjoining it lies hidden between was our well-kept Sogeri Army School cadet training shooting range: yes, we were taught to kill people too, should the need arise to protect Papua from invading forces!
This voluntary cadetship gave us discipline, poise, pride and joy. It helped us mold our young minds, actions, thoughts and deeds with integrity, humility, loyalty to community, school and country Papua (or the in-trust Territory of New Guinea where the same training institutions were in place too to educate the youth as leaders of the new country to emerge come the successful application of democracy).
There is trending in Papua New Guinea today. Something wrong in the education system or syllabus handed down from our Australian/British political upbringing.
Tell me, why do I daily suffer disrespect and rudeness in my taillight years now? Why is there so much complacency: parents vs teachers arguing about who is responsible to educate and train our youth in order to raise them from the bottom rungs of PNG society to the top for them to take their God-given right to serve our people and our country with honesty, transparency and love and integrity and so on.
My dear reader, I have typed my piece. Join in this discussion to find the correctness that is vitally needed RIGHT now to help rid of disobedience, disrespect and also minimise corruption from within our family, schools, CHURCHES, the public service and private sector and in particular in all leadership from educational institutions including the defense forces and parliament.
Bring back the good olde times. Bring back the almost perfect past which is the trending dream quite difficult to grasp today. It’s illusive.
Christians are called upon now by this freelancer to immediately preach against corruption destroying our beloved PNG today. God bless our PNG!
By BIGA LEBASI