Favourite titles

Favourite titles
Whether it is "Redefining literary techniques and devices", "Justifying Papua New Guinea Literature", or "Translating the Bible into Anuki", these offer valuable reading for the paperless student of literature, and indeed the best sort of literary entertainment you can get out of Papua New Guinea. Check them out either on Soaba's Storyboard or The Anuki Country Press.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

To poets, novelists, playwrights, editors and publishers

Welcome, one an all.

If you are visiting The Anuki Country Press and if you happen to be a poet, novelist, short story writer, artist and musician; or if you just happen to be a literary agent, an editor or publisher, the pages you read on this web log are for you.

Papua New Guinea is rich with culture, particularly in the areas of oral literature and traditions, contemporary poetry, fiction and drama. As such you are invited to participate by providing comments every now and then. Your contribution of ideas and opinions will help us a great deal in our endeavor to continue developing this thing called Papua New Guinea literature.

As vulnerable as we may seem in the eyes of the whole world what is it about a larger culture, a powerful nation as far as the arts go if that so-called powerful entity remains indifferent to a little country's desire to develop its own literature, art and culture? Be part of this. Contribute positively. We need to hear from you because your opinions and suggestions matter to us.

One moment you may talk about Byron, Shelley, Tennyson, Coleridge; and yet at another Graham Greene, Hemingway, James Joyce, William Faulkner, Dickinson, Thoreau and Emerson. What is all that if there are others like us who want to know more about these great writers through blogs such as this and through you. Don't be shy. You know you want to contribute but are simply too polite to do so because... because, well, blogs like this are usually run by "non-English" speaking English speaking countries like Papua New Guinea.

Excuse me, what was that about non English speaking English speaking countries like Papua New Guinea?

You said it. And we need your views on this.

If you a poet, send us one short one - your best shot in English.

If you are a short story writer, don't bother about sending us anything. We don't have space. Just just say if what we say and how we say it in English is okay.

If you are a literary agent, recommend us to as many languages as you can.

If you are an editor, tell us how we are doing. Correct every sentence you read here, if possible. If you say all is okay, we'll know straight away you are a native English speaker because most of them do, including the Oxford Dictionary and the Oxford University Press.

If you are a publisher, join us. (Some partnership associations with us could be profitable, you know.)

But seriously, offer as much help as you can.

And why is this so? you might ask. Because English is not our native tongue while at the same time it is officially and legally recorded and recognized as our national language!

So don't sit back there and watch us struggle alone. Get involved! Contribute!

Just by way of an experiment, notice how we struggle with the English language through the following book review published in a local newspaper some months ago:

The job of teaching English

One out of every ten sentence you read in this column is grammatically correct. The remaining nine are subject to the classification of not “correct English” but rather “good usage” of the English language itself.

That means that every time we think what we say in English is correct, we do so because everyone else around us thinks so. But of the true nature of what we are actually saying is not for us to determine save the experts who in turn will tell us if what we are saying is indeed “correct” or “good”.

So what’s the difference? Who are the experts in this case? Let us ask the Literature and English Communication department of the University of Papua New Guinea.

Now that department has a new book out, the first of its kind, called Papua New Guinea Journal of English Studies (Times Printing Ltd, 2009, 93 pages. K50.00 or $US60.00). This is an important book, handy for teachers of English in schools throughout the country.

Several case studies are represented in this publication. The first two papers are by those in the Literature segment of the department, namely Steven Winduo and Regis Stella. These are heavily researched academic studies centred on cultural and historical themes, and do not directly teach the reader how to write correct or good sentences in the English language. They do, however, provide insights to the phenomenon of cultural representation through writing, whether one is writing in English or an alternative language. Both writers reflect on the need for Pacific islanders, whether Papua New Guinean or other, to write about this region of the world preferably without being self-conscious of the influences of their respective colonial experiences.

Steven Winduo, in the vein of a modern day historian of memory, takes this point further in the article “Unmasking Memory and History in Pacific Writing.” In that article he discusses works of Celestine Hitiura Vaite, a French-speaking Tahitian writing in English; and Sia Figiel, a Samoan writing about her Samoa, preferably without that Western consciousness of “coming of age in Samoa.” How can one write a “free” novel without being conscious of one’s colonial past, albeit without intending to be political, seems to be the question Winduo is asking here. Nonetheless, Pacific writers, he maintains, “continuously return to the cultural metaphors, mythology, collective memory and history of their societies in order to construct their narratives as representative voices of the past, the present, and the future.”

Regis Stella, in his article “Alternative Ways of Knowing: The Place of Traditional Communication Arts in Education”, offers suggestions on how best to develop a reasonable looking curriculum for schools in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. While it has now become common knowledge “that the PNG education system to a larger extent alienates Papua New Guinean ways, producing young people who find themselves strangers to their own communities”, Stella offers that a positive solution to this problem is to deconstruct the curriculum itself in a manner that it “acknowledges indigenous epistemologies and pedagogies, and encourages young people to embrace their cultural ways and traditions as worthwhile.”

These two articles pose as eye-openers for committed teachers of English. Teaching English in Papua New Guinea is quite an experience for many. But allowing the learner to live the beat and pulse of his/her own cultural setting through the vein of the borrowed language is the gist in the job of teaching English.

Johnson Kalu, who edited this publication, investigates the writing needs of science students. Titled “Writing Needs of Science Undergraduates”, his article is based on a questionnaire distributed to both lecturers and students of Science at the University of Botswana where it was discovered that the main areas of students’ needs lay in lexis and syntax, discourse functions, coherent organization of writing and critical thinking. This particular need recognized as such and translated into the Papua New Guinean setting of the academic environs will certainly benefit our students in all areas of the sciences. The outcome of learning after that experience will demonstrate an instance of excellence, one dares to say.

Lucy Mawuli, another contributor to this journal, observes the same sort of discoveries when the English section branches out to other schools such as the Law Faculty. But in her article titled “Teaching Communication Skills to Law Students: A Collaborative Approach”, Mawuli calls for close collaboration between the Law School and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in teaching the student the proper way to write documents. We are in this together, she seems to be saying, as equal stake-holders in the whole enterprise of getting it right in English. Advocates of inter-disciplinary academic preoccupations should find this useful.

Then we have Olga Temple commenting on the rationale of language mechanism in her article titled “The Rationale Language Mechanism: Key to Understanding Syntax.” This is a heavily philosophical as much as philological treatise and deserves careful scrutiny. Says Olga: “I argue that since human thought generates all human languages, the rationale language mechanism should be as much a focus of linguistic research as are the diverse linguistic forms and structures.”

The other article, perhaps the key article of this publication, is one by Eugenie Duque titled: “Wrong English Usage: The Case of ignorant and sighted.” This short paper points out some of the common mistakes we make with certain words such as “ignorant” and “sighted”, and goes on to suggest that with the former we could be meaning to say “You are ignoring your duties” instead of “You are ignorant.” It is the same with the word “sighted”. How can one “sight” a document, if that paper lacks vision or does not wear spectacles, argues the writer. In all, the conclusion reached here is that there is such a thing as a “correct” usage and a “good” usage of the English language. We regard as “correct” that which everyone agrees to, not what standard English judges it be. The writer suggests that we should opt for the latter.

Finally, in this publication what do we have? Someone or something missing here? You guess it. Good old PNG Literature. From pages 82 to 87 of this very publication!

This is an important publication, the first of its kind in the discipline of English alone, and put out by the Literature and English Communication department of the University of Papua New Guinea. Previous publications were those of Literature alone. It is good to see the English section participating in the department’s publications program. For the moment all contributors come from within the Department, but the editors hope that more papers will be received from here as well as from other countries.

Friday, 13 August 2010

IBS as the central reference point in business and research

Speeches heard at the IBS book launch on Friday August 12 indicate that this is one institution of higher learning bound to become the central point of reference in business and research in the country's knowledge industry and market. The book launch took place at the IBS campus, Six-Mile, from 10 to 11 am.

Photos courtesy of IBS Corporate Launch

A little business school with big dreams

Since September last year it has been this author’s dream to see everyone participate in book production of one kind or another. By everyone he meant those ranging from the laity to institutions of higher learning and the government and private corporations alike.

Last Thursday, August 12, at IBS (Institute of Business Studies), he discovered that he was not alone in that dream. There were others, such as the director of IBS, Mr. Mick Nades, who felt that although their dreams would not be likened to Reverend Martin Luther King’s, they had their dreams nevertheless which were intent on inspiring as much as enlightening many minds throughout Papua New Guinea, particularly those at universities, colleges, various boards of business enterprises, research organizations and even small scale government and non-government project set-ups here and there. Besides, pointed out Mr. Nades, these would be the sort of dreams that were bound to, at a quick glance over the shoulders, see a fair number of following – evidence of which was seen by the number of people from various important organizations in the city turn up to witness the school’s launching of the first issue of its IBS Journal of Business and Research.

That journal now becomes, as one of the contributors to its pages had remarked, the first of its kind to hit the markets of educational and research industries. This is an exciting venture indeed into journal production.

Now journals do not usually survive in any given institution in our country due to lack of readership and inevitable lags in subscription rates, thereafter causing a good number to call it a day. But when we see a journal being produced by a business school we find ourselves thinking extra, because these are the very places where we find not only promises of sustenance but evidence of them. There’s your reason to dream not just about journals but about books in general.

Such dreams in journal and book production were supported by some inspiring words on the principles and practice of research writing by Dr. William Tagis, the Director General of the Office of Higher Education. It is quite a challenge for a researcher to gather data and have these properly worded, even if all this has to appear in a predominantly academic or social science fashion, for the benefit of the consumer whose ambition might be to discover, to learn, to translate and to further implement that which is discovered as new knowledge into a workable social as much as policy-targeted environment.

This remark was further stressed by Mr. Simon Kenehe, the Chairman of the Commission of Higher Education, by pointing out that a research paper on its own might not be as noticeable as when it should be forming a kind of direct link with those who carry on with the business of policy making and implementation. Talk to our policy makers (was what the chairman was stressing shortly before officially launching the journal), our politicians, our social and economic engineers that what we intend to do with research publications such as this is to better improve the quality of life of the people we profess to be serving and working for. Moreover, he remarked at one point, if I so much as occasion to read the Harvard Business School journal two or three times a year then I don’t see why I should not look forward to seeing its equivalent in Port Moresby an equal number of times.

The implications drawn from the remarks of both men are clear. That in every institution of higher learning in our country there is a certain obligation that we must all take up, particularly in the areas of educational services, support for various projects imposed on communities by the government, certain awareness programs that need visiting and re-visiting, and so on. How often, for example, and as pointed out by Dr. Anere during one of these speeches at the launch, do we hear about LNG and its umbrella agencies without being made sufficiently aware of the policy making processes that go with them.  All these details need to be compiled and presented, through formats such as this one of IBS’s.

 That should not, on the other hand, mean that we spend so much time printing periodical journals that we forget our teaching duties, but rather that as much as academically answering the needs of our respective student populations we should just as much take time out to tell the world what we are actually offering in the knowledge market for the community at large. This particular point was, again, made earlier by the director of IBS when suggesting that the school, should it continue with the publication of this journal, would most certainly become the central reference point in business studies and research not only in Papua New Guinea but within the region. Here, of course, the reader might want to be mindful of the fact that IBS is one of those schools that set their sights upwards, always in search of greater things to come by way of scholarship. We commend the school for taking that stance.

Speakers at this official launch include: Mr Nick Nades (Director, IBS); Professor Mark Solon (MC, IBS); Dr. William Tagis (OHE); Dr. Raymond Anere (NRI); Mr. Simon Kenehe (OHE); and Mr. N. Sadiq Ali (Deputy Director, IBS). Other official guests included the journal’s editorial board, among them Mr. Ivan Pomaleu (Managing Director, IPA), Mr. Tony Witham (Managing Director, Fincorp) and Mr. James Robins (NRI).

Coming back to the question of sustenance in such journal and generally book productions, which was a poser offered by Dr. Tagis, Professor Mark Solon, the chief editor of the journal and also serving as the MC at that official launching, assured everyone that aside from that pilot issue IBS Journal of Business and Research will be published twice yearly, one in January and the other in June. There was something else Professor Solon said about this that this author found pleasantly amusing: words that sounded as if he was gently nudging the other like-minded institutions of higher learning in the country and to the same effect as, “Gentlemen, ladies – I have a good editorial team in place. Please, consider submitting articles.”
Photo courtesy of IBS Corporate Launch
For a full review of this pilot issue of IBS Journal of Business and Research go to our other blog Soaba’s Storyboard.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Translating the Bible into Anuki

A chorus is sung before Father Niccomed Mudumatana (centre) blesses the boxes containing the Anuki versions of Genesis 1-11 and the Gospel of Mark

On the last day of the National Book Week (6th August, 2010) what better story to tell than the one about book launching somewhere in the remote areas of Papua New Guinea such as the Anuki Country in the Rabaraba District of the Milne Bay Province.

On Sunday, July 25, a book launch was held there, at Woruka village from 9.30am to 2.05pm. The Anuki Bible translation team based at that village and the rest of the community have a story to tell that goes well with that book launching. And this is how they tell the story.

When Doboro Parata was being baptised in 1951 as Mark Parata at Pem Mission Station by Father Amos Paisawa, there was heard a sudden clap of thunder even on a bright and clear day, as if confirming that the new religion had finally taken root within the Great Anuki Country.

Doboro Parata was feared, dreaded as much as revered and respected as the greatest sorcerer there was within the Anuki, Are, Doga, Dimdima and Gapapaiwa speaking areas of that region (Rabaraba) of the Milne Bay Province. Equally so was his counterpart, Father Amos Paisawa. Both men, though holding different views and beliefs in life, were history makers in the Anglican Church of Eastern Papua.

But the choice and act of christening Parata as Mark was no coincidence, however, as that symbolises what missionary work in general is all about. In Mark’s Gospel (5:1-20) we hear of a man possessed by a thousand or so demons which are cast out by Jesus and sent into a mob of swine which in turn rushes down to the sea to drown. The man, now healed, asks Jesus if he can join him and his disciples carry on the good work they do, but is refused and instead is asked to go back to his relatives (who are gentiles) and share with them the good things that had happened to him. That man, according to some of our well respected preachers of the word, becomes the first missionary ever to be appointed directly by Jesus in order to carry out the wonderful work that Christians do throughout the world.

The story of Doboro Mark Parata’s baptism is regarded as an important event in that sense. Mark Parata died soon after, of course, but not without seeing some of his own relatives receive the calling to go out and work as missionaries – in the Highlands, the New Guinea Islands and many other parts of the country. Among these were the Paipairas, the Kamokabas and the Kerinas.

Until 2000 such missionary work as carried out by this same group of families continued to survive, usually restricted to small-scale worship and sacramental observations at given parishes of the Anglican Church – but in direct competition, one might say, with modernity and all the influences that modernity brings with it. Interest in church and generally missionary activity began to dwindle a little then, some five decades after Mark Parata’s baptism, and it is true that even today the Church itself can barely maintain a parish not only within the Anuki Country but elsewhere in Cape Vogel and the Rabaraba District, including the Great Dogura Diocese itself.

Today, a strange turn of events and what might be regarded as a miracle, is beginning to take place with promises of some more good things to come. SIL-PNG (Summer Institute of Linguistics), along with a partner VITAL (the Vernacular Initiative for Translation and Literacy), has stepped in to render support and assistance. Though limited in resources and manpower, this group of missionary workers is to be commended for the great work it does in helping strengthen one’s faith in Christianity as well as providing vital educational services at rural level through its translation and literacy programs. Workshops are conducted two or three times a year, and these enable the villagers to participate in setting their thoughts down on paper as well doing all that is necessary to translate the entire Bible into their respective languages.

For the Anuki people work had begun in 2006, a year after the launch of VITAL to (in the words of Karla Sligh, Post Courier May 28) “meet the needs of language communities and dialects of Milne Bay and Oro Provinces that have no other way to begin a translation program in the near future.”

The prospects so far look good. Chapters 1 to 11 of the book of Genesis, along with the whole of Mark’s Gospel have successfully been translated into the Anuki language. With Karla Sligh at the helm as VITAL Coordinator, and Joanna Frampton as SIL translation consultant and full-time VITAL mentor for the area’s translation and literacy team, one can only marvel at the ease with which the Anuki project is progressing. There is word doing the rounds that with every Anuki speaker lending a hand the entire translation of the Bible should be completed in less than 15 years.

 The author of this article felt exceedingly pleased be present at the book launch at Woruka. Food, as it is a favourite pastime for the Anuki people, was provided in abundance. Beautiful speeches were made as part of the launching ceremony, and by late afternoon, soon after the SIL and VITAL party had left for Alotau, the dancers stepped out to perform a birikio like those ancient times gone by. It was a wonderful day indeed.

Speakers at the book launch include the following: Jacob Igara (Pem, MC); John Garfield Kamokaba (Tototo); Kipling Borewa (Pem); Benson Rugabuna (Tapio-Woruka, Councillor); Cecil Bogerara (Woruka); Karla Sligh (United States, VITAL Coordinator); Joanna Frampton (New Zealand, SIL translation consultant and full-time VITAL mentor for the Anuki team); and at one point this author (Tototo-Port Moresby). Other people who did not speak but who equally deserve mention are Fathers Niccomed Mudumatana (Bogaboga) and Bevin Nanasia (Garabuna), who celebrated Mass earlier that morning and who blessed the books before the launch; Tuula Kaija (Finland), the technician in charge of audio-visual equipment and through whose work participants as much as respective communities can be able to listen to recorded scriptures in their languages; Hazel Kerina (Tototo), one of the key players in the Anuki translation team; and, of course, the people of the Anuki Country.

All that has been said here is by no means a “success story” in the vein of those other stories we hear about books and literacy in our country. This is a story about the most remote regions of Papua New Guinea where terms such as infrastructure, equal sharing of the nation’s wealth and government granting systems, better health and educational reform structures and the like are virtually unheard of. Yet the Anuki do manage to survive, year in year out, and that in itself is quite a story to tell.

Recently, it has been reported that there was a break and enter incident observed at the VITAL office in Alotau, thus denying this group of NGO and non-profit missionary workers 15 lap tops which were assigned for use not only in the Anuki project but for the other Milne Bay language projects as well. It will take time before these items are replaced. We do believe, however, that there are good people out there reading this story who will consider lending a hand in whatever way they can.

And the dancers step out to spice up the celebrations at the launch with a performance of the biriko, the traditional Anuki ring dance. Photos by Tuula Kaija and Karla Sligh of VITAL, Alotau Office.