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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.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Richard Kini, a realist

Kini's project covered by overgrown grass, weeds and moss...
The late Richard Kini of Riwalirubu village in the Balawaia area of the Rigo district was a realist, not a dreamer like most of us. But he would not stop dreaming big for his people and community. Whether those dreams were about his own Balawaia surroundings or those of his in-laws’ in the remote Anuki Country of the Milne Bay Province, he often did his dreaming much more realistically than even his closest of relatives could tell.
Visitors/relatives from the Anuki Country regarding the abandoned project.
One such dream was building a new primary school in place of the old one called Bina Primary School. Now Bina is located up the side of a hill just below Riwali village. It is so lopsided in appearance anyone can tell it needs a flat sort of landscape that can cater for school buildings, class rooms, teachers’ residences and sufficient space for sporting activities. Moreover, the school is located where much of the arable soil is for staple garden crops such as bananas and yams.
Where Richard wanted to build the new school was a mile down from there and upon the savannah plains, much of which consists of bog and marsh. The soil there would not do much for luxurious garden produce such as the prized yams or the longish looking bunches of Rigo besa and other crops both for subsistence consumption and market sales in town. It therefore needed only a good drainage system and some levelling at certain points to accommodate what would become a fitting location of a school, able to take in pupils from prep up to perhaps Grade 8.
After some negotiations with the landowners of the lower plains, it was agreed that the new school would be located there. A Japanese foreign aid program was invited to assist and within months three classrooms were successfully built. But then Richard became terribly ill and the project came to a halt.
The fact that no one offered to continue with the construction of class rooms and residential buildings after Richard’s death could imply that not everyone was in agreement with the prospects of the project itself. Several other factors come into play here. As it is with any other Papua New Guinea rural and semi-bucolic setting, our attitude to new ideas, new ventures into business or other, are not so much encouraging as positive. We tend to devalue ourselves with self-criticism more than look at ourselves from an optimistic perspective. To top all that we over-kill ourselves with so much of that self-pride. This is a terrible hangover affecting virtually all the southern regions of Papua New Guinea.
Bina Primary School at its present location. The house higher up is Mavis's, a cousin of storyboard and  widow of the late Richard Kini.
Thus, these could have been the causes why the project could not continue. But storyboard did ask around to find out more about why the project came to a standstill after the passing of Richard Kini. Wherewithal he would discover, and quite to his dismay, of course, that really the snag came from the biggies up at the top, meaning the elders of Riwalirubu most of whom are to be found in town, not at the village itself. The claim for ownership of Bina Primary School was noted to be strong up there. The elders did not want the school to be moved to a new location thereby denying them that sentiment of ownership. Of course, there is nothing wrong with such a sentiment. It is just that a school is a school, and it is meant for children, quite preferably children from all over the great Balawaia country itself. So it must be given a location which is spacious to cater for buildings and large playing fields. But too much bread and butter instead of the delicate diet of besa and bamboo-baked prawns can slow us a bit in our judgement of things, eh?
Today, what remains of the new site for Bina Primary School are state-of-the-art classroom buildings encroached slowly by overgrown grass, weeds and moss. The surrounding sparsely distributed gum trees offer no solace whatsoever, and the general atmosphere thereafter remains sombre as much as foreboding. For an outsider like storyboard and his Anuki party visiting Riwali at the time the atmosphere seemed like walking through a ruined kingdom. The ancient drum beats, the conch blasts were nowhere to be heard or seen and the building themselves offered more of an air of abandon than anything else.
Nonetheless storyboard’s party was there for a special purpose and that was to attend the guluma in honour of the late Richard Kini. The great Anuki Country felt and knew that the time had come when it would visit its partner clans, the Vetailubu, Golotauna, Gwalai and Burogolo, equal in rank to the ones in Milne Bay, in order to reclaim their daughter, sister, and mother after her years of service to those clans of Riwalirubu. But they did not do so without gratitude, especially with thoughts surrounding the fact that in honour of the woman once married to them a trade embargo was imposed upon their own community so that for many months no food crops would be transported to town for marketing until the guluma feast was observed and completed successfully.
What was saddening, however, was to come away from all that with thoughts that projects like those of Richard Kini’s might never be completed. But we trust that the elders of the hilltop clans will read this and with a change of heart complete the task that Mr. Kini had started. Bina Primary School does need a new and spacious homestead for the benefit of the children of the great Balawaia country. 

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