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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.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Glad tidings

Photo: Ekar Keapu, The National newspaper.
The name Powes Parkop sounds like glad tidings around Christmas time. That is what residents of Port Moresby went to discover at a local park Sunday evening (5/12/10). Among them were storyboard’s children and grandchildren.

And the grand children’s reaction?

There were lights, many of them – lights of different colours. And there was an elephant and a giraffe and some other animals. The city was lit up. It was really beautiful. Here, bubu daddy, we even have a video recording of it all. You should have stopped listening to your Maria Callas and come with us.

“True, true,” nodded storyboard, “if only your parents took the trouble of buying a 15 seater to fit us all in. Were there many people there?”

“Yes, bubu, many people came. Even the securities could not allow us to sit on the elephant’s tusk and take photos.”

“Tusk or snout?”


One thing is clear. These little children are beginning to see that the city they are growing up in promises to be lit up all around, colourful and safe. As they grow up they feel certain they can walk the city’s streets from the fall of evening to late without anyone bothering them. And it would be all the more encouraging if they felt addicted to such a sentiment of cleanliness and feeling of safety, a sort of homely atmosphere for all.
This does not mean that Port Moresby has never been such a spot of beauty and enchantment once in the history of its making. What men like Parkop are doing is revive those familiar sights now lost to the rush of so-called development and transmigration of people from various corners of the country. It is the sort of sense of belonging that we all must claim ownership to.

Port Moresby is not a city that belongs to a collective few who initially are Motu Koitabuans on the one hand and to pocketful concentrations of Highlands and non-Highlands settlers here and there. Port Moresby is a city that has now become everyone’s affair. It is indeed an affair. But we must regard that properly as a love affair. How can we claim we love a city if we turn around and abuse it with so much litter and spit? How can we, for that matter, claim we love a family member or a loved one if we go on panel beating her as an expression of love?

Men such as Powes Parkop and his team of parliamentarians and landscape developers who are now creating that strong sense of collegiality among themselves for no other reason than to beautify the city once all over again must be commended. They are good people who need our support as members of the city’s community more than words of flattery. These are very simple people like you and me who care about the city so much that they will not rest until they make Port Moresby become a centre of all manner of festivity throughout the Asia Pacific region. Be that instance of festivity centred around sports, cultural festivals, regional summit meetings or certain contests such as the recent beauty contest – these become important observations for which and through which we can feel prompted enough to keep the city clean.
Another aspect of Powes Parkop and his group of workers that deserves commendation and which indeed deserves a lot of thought on our part as ordinary citizens is their choice of simplicity in starting up a project and completing it. In all these situations these men and women do not opt for expensive and lofty jargon as much as literature to get their message across to the ordinary member of Port Moresby community. Listen, says one at one time or another, we just want to build the Great Wall of Koki down town. Or we just want to put a few huts and seats at various points around the city for our children to play. And there we go.

So who are we then who, instead of helping and supporting them by similar gestures of doing something positive for the city, turn around and spit buai juice at billboards asking for our cooperation? As storyboard once heard a grass roots youth remark, “Sapos yu no bihainim tok bilong ol biglain bilong yu mi, kanda bilong dispela stap yet.” (If you don’t pay attention to what the biggies are saying there is a reward forthcoming, meaning, “Woe unto that youth who refuses a word of blessing from the old and wise elders.”) That youth was very wise indeed.
Cleanliness and observing a lifestyle of hygienic habits is free of charge. No one will demand payment for the good shower you have had this morning. (Then again no one will help you pay Eda Ranu for that shower.) We must develop that attitude about living in the city that we love by feeling addicted to the cleanliness and hygienic settings that surround us. Seeing a strayed trash in the form of a candy wrapping flying towards you should be sufficient clue in picking it up and putting it in its proper place. Feel addicted to that. You don’t do that out of sense of duty or because somebody else told you to do it. You do it yourself because you are addicted to the habit. That simple gesture done a thousand times over in a month leads all of us to seeing a city that is at once clean and beautiful. So let’s get addicted to this. Let’s help Powes Parkop and his team clean up. Here, in the head firstly, as the appropriate the poet says, then along the footpath as we walk along. Clean up.
This sentiment of cleanliness and hygienic living is our glad tidings from Powes Parkop and his team of dedicated workers.

Finally, and as pointed out above, a great number of us living in Port Moresby today are outsiders. We are indeed an eye sore to the people who are the real landowners. We must pay a certain amount of compensation for that. There is no better gesture of compensation than making ourselves look tidy and keeping the streets of the whole city clean and beautiful. That much the landowner would ask of us more than all of King Solomon’s kingdom and wealth put together.
Photos this and above 4 by Perry Poha & the Soaba family.


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