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.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

It is you who will carry on

Storyboard as a business enterprise

Storyboard has indeed become a big business enterprise in Papua New Guinea. Its guest writers are responding favourably we notice.
 Assuming the duties and responsibilities of a guest writer this week is Ted Wika Kaleo, also a second year literature major along with our previous guest writer, Charmaine Sialis, with his impressions on the course, Literature and Politics.
It is you who will carry on
by Ted Wika Kaleo

“Is it true that literature was the main driving force in Papua New Guinea’s fight for political independence?”
Mr. Soaba asked repeatedly in our first Literature and Politics class. He looked around expecting someone to give a bright explanation. Silence developed. Everyone just frowned at the question as if they knew nothing. The afternoon seemed hot. Very hot indeed.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes, all right.”
It was a Thursday afternoon a few minutes earlier when I walked out of the library and walked towards the Arts Lecture Theatre. The campus was busy. Students moved in every direction, going to and coming from lectures and tutorials with books tightly held to their sides. Watching them from the footpath, they looked like restless ants at work in the shimmering heat. Some stopped to wipe out sweat from their faces while others chatted as they moved. As I walked past the Kuri Dom Building, I glanced into each lecture room. There were students listening and taking notes. In one hall, some excited students bounced in the corner while others passed time chatting up in small groups.
“These students seem to waste so much of their time,” I thought as if I was one of those time-conscious individuals who do things on time. Still walking, my thoughts flashed back to the old school. I recalled those famous quotes on the wall of our literature classroom. One of them read: “Someone who tells his brother to remove a speck from his eye without first having to take it off from his own eye is a fool.” These words were unforgettable. A moment later I felt that I was wrong in judging these innocent students. A sudden feeling of guilt struck me.
“Oh, God, I know I’m wrong. Please forgive me,” I whispered repeatedly as if I was speaking to a friend walking close by. A moment of silence developed in me. I closed my eyes and felt the afternoon breeze sweep through my face...
“Shit! Five minutes late,” I said as I rushed for the lecture. I could not waste time anymore. I walked straight into the lecture hall and found him. He had already begun his lectures. His lectures were so powerful that it gained much of our attention. Many students took down notes while some of us listened attentively, never to miss out any word that came out his mouth.

“I think I know this old guy,” I thought as I frowned at him. His photograph and writing appear frequently in the National. His literary works also appear in many of our literature and history books. Some of them were about our country’s political independence.

“Yes, yes of course, I know him. He is Mr. Storyboard,” I whispered while I studied his face carefully. His narrowed eyes were fringed with white eyebrows. His forehead wrinkled as he gave short frequent smiles. Although he looked old, he was more active. His actions and words were like that of an eighteen year old. He spoke plainly and his lectures were often challenging. At any point, I listened carefully trying to absorb every bit of information he was giving.

“The politics of Papua New Guinea could not have come this far without the work of literature,” he begun. “Our early writers recognized the importance of literature and made considerable use of it in the political development of this country. You see, Papua New Guinea was so fortunate in a sense that it gained its independence without any bloodshed. Countries like South Africa and Vietnam did not see the importance of literature in their struggle for political independence. Hence, they plunged into public riots and unrest that resulted in heated battles with their colonial powers.”

I listened in silence, trying to grasp what he was attempting to say. I did not care whether I took notes or not. All I wanted to know was the history of our country – to know how the use of literature paved the way in our country’s political independence. This is because facts were absolutely new to me. I had never learnt that in my old school. I only knew little from my history class that Papua New Guinea got its independence quickly because of the native attitude in helping war victims.

“We were fortunate to have writers like Albert Maori Kiki, Leo Hannett, Nora Vagi Brash, and so many others who have seen the importance of literature in this country,” he continued.  “They have used their writing to criticize, fight political oppression, mobilize the masses and advance political agenda in the face of colonial administrators to liberate our people. Now we are lucky to do things on our own. We don’t see the colonizer telling us ‘do this’ or ‘do that’ anymore. Indeed literature has freed us. Thanks to our early writers.”  

“It’s quite interesting. Really interesting to learn some new facts about our country’s independence,” I whispered to a friend who was scribbling away on his pad. The student did not say anything. He just kept nodding his head. I withdrew and faced Mr. Soaba again.

“So you mean literature is the main driving force in the fight for political independence of our country?” the student asked after he had scribbled down all his notes. I guessed he had the same feeling as me. He had been very quiet in taking down every word that came out of Mr. Soaba since the lecture began.

“Yes, yes. That’s precisely what I’m saying here, my friends. Literature was that political tool for the native writer. They used every aspect of our literature to challenge the colonial administration in order to bring about independence for our country,” (replied Mr. Soaba to our silent questionings) as he stepped forward to face us. “And now, listen, everyone,” he continued. “Political independence was the final result of the efforts of our early writers. They achieved what they had been fighting for. Because of their critical works, we got independence and lived up to that to this day. But what about our literary journey in the future politics of this country? Who will carry on what had already begun?” He paused, took a deep breath and looked around as if he had told us everything that we wanted to know. Suspense developed. Everyone stared; open mouthed, and waiting to hear what he would say next.

“It is you who will carry on, “he spoke out at last. And this time he let out that unconditional smile that he had never ever given throughout his lectures. We clapped and whistled as if we were partying at a concert. The noise died down at once – silence returned.

Suddenly, we heard murmurs coming from the doorway.  We turned around. It was a group of students – the other class. They were about to come in for their lecture. Mr. Soaba glanced at his watch and at the students standing at the door – then again at his watch.

“It’s time. Eurest beckons.”

We left.

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