Principal writer: Nou Vada
This week the Storyboard team convened an emergency meeting of some sort. There was no imminent Nuclear threat as in the pages of Tom Clancy, no revolutionary salutations as in the manuscripts of Marx and Ché, no explosive courtroom drama as in a Grisham paperback; and certainly no Asimov nightmare where the machines the human race has surrounded itself with become self-aware and in their new-found autonomy, declare war on homo-sapiens. The reason for the emergency meeting of some sort was simple: It is National Book Week.
The Storyboard Team admits it was ambushed by the event like old Fletcher in Trevor Shearston’s Sticks That Kill; killed by Koitabu Assassins. The Motu-Koitabuan villager in this day and age might find the notion of the Koitabu Assassin far-fetched (as an old hanua man used to say, “Dirava, lasi!”), but probably more far-fetched would be the claim that the Storyboard team was ambushed by the National Book Week.
The truth is, the National Book Week this year, at least at its preliminary stage has been notoriously under-hyped. One theory is that this year we have seen the departure of Sir Paulius Matane from the post of the Governor-General, and with it, the rightly needed hype the National Book Week has enjoyed in these last few years while Matane, a distinguished writer of Books himself, served as the Head of State. The silence this year has been eerie, almost like something off a Stephen King novel. Letters started coming in this week from various schools seeking to secure Storyboard as a keynote Speaker here and a special guest there and so on and so forth. Some of the letters came to Storyboard in the most unconventional of ways, almost like a scene out of the first Harry Potter novel, where Privet Drive is engulfed with Acceptance letters from Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft.
Storyboard this week would like to put up a political statement. Nothing as radical as the Communist Manifesto or the Committee of Ten’s ground-breaking submission on the future of Papua and New Guinea as told in Sir Albert Maori Kiki’s 10,000 Years in a Lifetime, just an encouragement to the Government of the day to keep up the good work in supporting the National Book Week. We’re not asking Parliament to convene an emergency sitting to discuss Willing Suspension of Disbelief in Nigel Krauth’s New Guinean Images in Australian Literature. We’re just showing our support for what we as writers believe is a most worthy cause.
The National Book Week 2011 theme is Books for Lifelong Learning. At the end of Sir Ignatius Kilage’s My Mother Calls Me Yaltep, the character Yaltep remembers his Kuman people of Chimbu Province and remembers a poem a friend once read to him:
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and Heaven; which we are, we are;
One equal temper of Heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield
The poem speaks of the notion of Age and aging. The theme for the National Book Week 2011 asks Papua New Guineans to remember that age is irrelevant in learning because we learn until we die. We learn until we die and the last thing we learn before we die is death and dying. The statement sounds like something straight out of the Book of Ecclesiastes; of course the statement has a bit of indifferent fatalism to it, nevertheless the gist of it is true; that the human being is designed to learn until it meets its demise.
Books have always been the conventional channel of learning. As writers both established and amateur, we at the Storyboard pride ourselves that we are a designated forum for literature and books. The National Book Week is a time to remember books as a manifestation of humanity’s progress from the times of man’s deep conversations with the masalai and the spirits of the trees and the rocks to Newsfeeds and tweets on Facebook and Twitter.