Tribal fights dragging us down


IT is often said that in a war, no one wins – only one loses more than the other.
In our country, on a much smaller scale, no group wins the tribal fight, only one loses more than the other.
People continuing to fight, especially in the Highlands region, need to be reminded of this. We lose many lives and properties much to our regret.
Issues, some petty, are allowed to manifest into deep and huge catastrophies which quickly spiral out of control and drag on for years.
Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas blames it on the “stone-age mentality” which he says some citizens still harbour. He is referring to warring tribes which continue to live in the “dark days” and see fighting as the only way to settle disputes. The least they care about are the consequences.
We celebrate the 43rd anniversary of independence in four weeks’ time.
Development and national progress should by now be at a stage where the “stone-age mentality” referred to by Sir Peter should be well behind us.
Unfortunately it is not so. While some are enjoying mobile phones and the internet in parts of the country, others are still brandishing their spears and arrows in fights.
It seems that the mentality for revenge or the quest to be ranked in society and recognised as “leaders” – irrespective of the costs and the adverse effects on development – continue to exist.
An example is in Sir Peter’s Enga. It has so much potential for development propped up by the giant Porgera gold mine.
There are a lot of benefits to be enjoyed by everyone in the district and the province.
But the fights and deliberate disruptions to services are hindering progress.
They block the flow of government services to the villages and isolated hamlets.
Sadly, some of the people involved in fighting are the ones complaining about the lack of government services.
Thankfully, some now realise their mistakes and want to stop fighting.
For example, on Friday there was an agreement reached between the Lai and Kalako clans of the Pyaub tribe in Laiagam to end their 11-year-old fight over a land dispute.
More than 100 lives had been lost apart from the closure of health and education services.
It may seem surreal to an outsider that these people who hail from one tribe and are supposed to peacefully co-exist had failed to resolve a land dispute for more than a decade. But it is the reality on the ground.
The two clans can now move forward and over time catch up with the rest of the district, province and country on services they have been missing out on.
One factor which must not be ignored is the important role the church can play or is playing to end such hostilities.
Church leaders must strengthen their influence over the people, impressing on them to promote peace and love as advocated in the holy book they carry to lotu on Sundays.
The church commands the respect of the people who believe in and respect their divine missions on Earth.
This can be used effectively in ending tribal fights and violence in general.
At the end of the day, there is nothing to be gained from fighting over things which, when it is over, do not seem as significant as they seemed at the start.