Below is a self-explanatory video, my son Chris introduced me to. The Slow Mo Guys two often make some very interesting short films. I hope you enjoy the beauty of a few seconds of science and art in the clip called Droplet Collisions at 5000 fps.
Australia’s nearest Pacific neighbours have taken the lead in trying to broker a peaceful future for Indonesia’s contested West Papuan provinces.
Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia’s FLNKS took the step at the 20th Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) summit in Honiara.
Since Indonesia took over the former Dutch colony in the 1960s, there has been a brutal conflict in West Papua that is estimated to have cost hundreds-of-thousands of lives.
The MSG leaders gave the West Papuan independence movement observer status, rejecting an application for full membership.
Indonesia has been an observer since 2011 and was upgraded to associated membership at the summit.
“The leaders approved the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) as an observer member under the regional and international category representing West Papuans living abroad,” said Solomon Islands prime minister and MSG chair Manasseh Sogavare.
“Associate membership is accorded to Indonesia representing the five Melanesian provinces in Indonesia. I have the greatest pleasure in welcoming them.”
The West Papuans were hoping for full membership of the MSG but accept observer status as a first step.
The Indonesians will be represented at the MSG by the governors of its five Papuan provinces.
“Building a strong Melanesia in the Pacific is certainly a desire for our every member country,” said PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill.
This is my second entry into the short story category in PNG National Literary Awards. Some of you know this story. It has been cut down to 1000 word limit. For more stories and entries into the competition, please visit the following links;
I felt his eyes piercing into my back as I struggled over the grassy hill. The air was tight and chilly so early in the morning.
I needed my three-month-old baby Boni’s softness, and the laughter of his older siblings. I was exhausted and wished I could stop. A sudden breeze brushed over the tall grass. Shoosh. I shivered.
Usually, when we returned from the garden, Bomoga walked proudly ahead, carrying his prized spear with a small bilum strapped across his bare chest. The children and I fumbled behind him: me with a child on my shoulder, another in the bilum on my back together with our second bilum of food and pulling our eldest by the hand.
Today, I was in front. I wore my favourite red meri blouse. In haste, I had worn it inside out – its flimsy seams waved loosely.
We reached the top of Kasu Hill. I gasped for air.
My heart pumped. From the only hill in Domogu Village in the wallaby plains of the Western Province, pale yellow-green lowland laid before me. The grass had been burnt in patches to entrap wild game. The lowland was also known for Papuan black, a deadly snake.
I marched down the ridge, as ordered. Cold mud numbed my sore foot. We reached the place where the Ok Tedi Mining had caused hundreds of fish and plants to die along the riverbank. Usually, there were people here. But it was still early – no one was about as we passed.
My milk dripped down my blouse. Without bra, my breasts swung full and uncomfortable. It was feeding time for Boni. The rising sun cast faint shadows and the warm air caressed my face. We had crossed Domogu tribal land. Bomoga’s ancestors, nomads like mine, had decided to settle in this fertile land.
My eyes scanned the mountains that Ok Tedi had exploited. To the south, there was an airstrip where planes flew in weekly. Our village looked like a jewel, deep jade opal, festooned with glassy lakes of many sizes.
I stumbled forward.
We entered a forest. Strangely, the birds here were silent. I heard sorcerers came here for bush medicine and magic making. I searched for sunlight through the tree openings.
“Keep walking,” he hissed.
I had not looked once in Bomoga’s eyes. When his sweaty hands had touched me that morning, I thought he wanted sex, but instead he shook me roughly and ordered me out of the house. His shadow had loomed over me as I took Boni off my breast and put on my meri blouse and my rubber skirt. Boni nestled into his blanket, eyes still shut. He didn’t cry for more milk, thank God. My other children, Eka and Maria were asleep. I heard Bomoga pick up something in the house before closing the door behind us. He was quiet and cagey, which was not like him.
He was never a warm person, not even to his family members, though he was loud to his male friends. He liked sex that was rough and on demand. In any argument, a sudden punch to my face or stomach was a possibility. If the children screamed, he yelled at them. The beatings only worsened if he thought I challenged him. “No one will help you, because you are MY wife,” he said. I felt he was right and did not seek help, not even from his family or other villagers. Recently his best friend Tommy had returned from Port Moresby. I heard Bomogu now liked Tommy’s sister who was younger and prettier than me. He wanted her, I heard.
I stepped on a stump with my sore foot. The pain almost made me cry out. Two of my toes had broken when I fell in the last fight. We continued through the gloomy undergrowth into a flat area. Through an opening I saw sunlight sprinkling light of various colours onto leaves and moss. I saw a beautiful butterfly on a fern. Its brilliant blue wings and black outline set against the leafy greens. I felt a flash of hope.
We walked on and soon I could hear rapids and the forest thinned out as we reached a Y junction. At my feet a Papuan black, unaware, slithered quickly across my path.
“Turn to the river,” Bomoga commanded.
I turned towards the rapids. My throbbing foot distracted me and I was afraid to fall. The river frothed, full from recent rain. Watching water as it rushed away, a thought stirred my mind. Was he going to toss me into the river?
I imagined where my body would lay after death; my treasured red meri blouse, still inside out, clinging to my slim frame. Dragged ashore with a paddle shafted under the hem of my blouse, a trail would be imprinted on the sand on the silky Suki River banks. Villagers rushed to screaming children who discovered me. A woman bellowed my name, “Sulita!, Sulita!” But after hours in the muddy river, half-dressed and impaled by a black palm spear, I would no longer be Sulita.
“Stop!” he yelled.
The ground looked easy to dig in places. I kept my face down. My feet were covered in mud and grass
“Turn around. Look at me!”
I turned and raised my eyes to the point of his most prized black palm spear.
With this spear Bomoga had speared the biggest pig, the fastest wallaby and driven the largest cull of deer. Many feared Bomoga because of his mastery with the weapon. My eyes shifted from the spear to my husband’s eyes for the first time that day. They were bulging and blood-rimmed. His nose flared and his sweat drenched eyebrows twitched. Ten long years and we still stared at each other like strangers.
He raised and pointed with the spear. “Where would you like to be buried?” he asked.
I dropped to my knees, closed my eyes and prayed.
This story is based on a true story set in Suki, Western Province. It is dedicated to the strong women and the survivors of domestic violence in Papua New Guinea and other Melanesian societies.
The Hillside Find is a short story I wrote when I first started blogging over a year ago. It is based on my life as a young journalist working in my first job in Papua New Guinea’s leading daily, The Post Courier.
I have entered this story in the PNG’s annual literature competition which closes on June 30th. If you are interested, please visit also the two links below to see other entries from PNG writers. I will post my second entry tomorrow. The word limit is 1000 words.
We climbed together, side by side. Chief Superintendent Roy Tiden and I stepped through the tall kunai grass and up the rocky Ranuguri hillside. The mid afternoon sun fought with its last strength, throwing an orangey tinge on the grass and on vibrant houses on the hillside. Ranuguri is in Konedobu. Below, the sound of traffic in Kone died down as we moved further up. It was a Tuesday in February 1985; the year Papua New Guinea would celebrate its ten years of independence from Australia. It was also the year the country recorded the highest crime rate in Port Moresby. Solving crimes excited me. At nineteen, and reporting for PNG’s leading daily, life was never dull.
My mother had called the night before from Lae, asking me to bring my little brother to Port Moresby and care for him. I was the eldest of four and Rivona was turning eleven. Port Moresby crime figures were escalating and living here was hardly safe enough for me. I wondered how a historical government post such as Kone boasting the best harbour and a bustling business centre could also be afflicted with such a high crime rate. In the newsroom the talk was that a state of emergency would be declared for Port Moresby. I stopped briefly to wait for Supt Tiden. As he got closer, I continued climbing.
I wanted to care for my brother, knowing how hard it was for my mother with three young children. But I was afraid journalism work would keep me away for long hours. This was my first job, and I wanted to do well. Maybe I could also bring my grandmother, so she could help me with my brother. With my mind absorbed, I didn’t realise I’d left the superintendent behind. Glancing down at him for directions, Supt Tiden pointed to the top of the hill. I headed there with my bag and notebook, stepping carefully over the loose gravel and scattered boulders.
Down the hillside, Mr Tiden’s blue uniform showed through the green swaying Kunai grass. Further past him I could see some of the old colonial buildings. Colourful clothes danced on makeshift lines and smoke escaped from open fires. Next to the police headquarters other old buildings had been converted into the mining department offices. Several dozen vehicles were parked there. I brushed the sweat off my forehead and wiped it on my skirt.
When I got the call, Mr Tiden had mentioned a rise in death amongst gang members, especially young boys. He said he’d been called out a week ago to a crime scene where the body had already decomposed. While moving the remains onto a stretcher, the rotting arm dropped onto the superintendent, and as it brushed him the fingernails came off. Thinking of that story and what we might discover today, I felt nauseous. I wanted to get it over and done with and return to the comforts of the Post Courier newsroom. My workmates there have become my second family, away from my hometown Lae.
I neared the hilltop. Supt Tiden was several meters downhill. His large body restricted his speed up the hillside. He’d started puffing at the foot of Ranuguri and joked about racing me to the top, making light our reason for being there. By then he was already an astute detective with over 20 years of police work.
With the incident report descriptions of the crime location, I figured I would see a crime scene near where I stood. I expected the obvious: signs of damage to the land surface, a scrap of bloody clothing, and any kind of evidence. “Maybe, I am ON the scene,” I whispered to myself. The hairs on my skin stood. At my feet the ground was bare and uneven with rough limestone.
I called out, “Mr Tiden!’ Mr Tiden!” Out of respect I always referred to the superintendent as Mr Tiden. I could hear the wind blowing my voice down the valley. No response. My throat dried up as I hugged myself.
I looked around and across the hilltop trying to see where the sound of buzzing flies came from. I didn’t want to step on anything or anyone. I could not even see those damn flies, but I heard them very close. A crow soared and two others joined the circle, just metres above me. I held my notepad tight. I pulled my bag up to my chest and smelt the leather. Inside it were my no-brand cinnamon lipstick, an extra pen, a bunch of keys and the police issue can of chemical mace. Mr Tiden said I might need it one day.
“The mace!” I almost said out loud. But what help would it be? Apart from spurts of kunai, there was nothing else here. Whatever there was would not be too hard to find, but my legs refused to take me further. I waited. The flies buzzed and the grass shooed. I wished the police helicopter would blast up the hillside and break the silence.
I was about to call Mr Tiden again when I heard muffled cursing and knew he had arrived. “There you are, Joycelin.”
“Am I in the right place?”
“You are! That is great detective work,” he answered cheerfully.
I pretended to smile.
“Come this way.” He started turning down the opposite side of the hill then halted suddenly.
I walked up to him and looked down. Stretched out before us was a boy’s body. He had three large rocks weighing him down – on the neck, the abdomen and the legs. The head had a massive dent and the rock on his neck was covered in blood. “He can’t be more than 11 or 12 years old,” said Supt Tiden after a complete circuit around the body. I had not moved yet.
Supt Tiden looked up at me, waiting for a reaction. The only thing running through my head was my brother, Rivona.
It could have been him, I thought.
Thank you Isabel for all your help. This story is a tribute to Chief Supt Roy Tiden and also my brother, Rivona who are both no longer with us. Roy died years later and Rivona lived to be a young man in Port Moresby. Almost 20 years later and two weeks before his 32nd birthday, Rivona died suddenly.
I have been to Tubuserea Village, Central Province, Papua New Guinea many times with my best friend Anne Kaluwin. These are the scenes from Tubuserea almost five decades ago.
Anne and I grew up together like sisters, after meeting in grade eleven in national high school. I also invited her to my own village, Wagang, in Lae. I found these pictures of her village while reading some old articles and on a website called Nashos. The pictures brought back many great memories especially of our time with her mother and grandmother who have now passed away.
These pictures were taken in 1967 when Anne and I would have been two and three years old. Anne is a year older than I. The photographs are part of a collection gathered by Australian soldiers and those who served in PNG between 1966 and 1973.
Here is a story about a storyteller and how he told his grandfather’s story.
This is an interview I found on Malum Nalu blog about a friend and a Papua New Guinea writer and scholar, Steven Winduo. I wanted to feature Steven on my blog because some of the things and the way he wrote his novel is interesting and we can learn from them as writers. In his own words below, Steven explained how he wrote his book, Land Echoes (2014), based on his grandfather’s life story.
It is challenging to write fiction, based on actual history, than on pure imagination. The challenge is to be as close to history, but aided with literary license to reconstruct a storyline that maps out the narrative. The technique known as fictionalizing history is taken on board to plough the field of history and fiction to make something grow out of it.
Land Echoes (2014) is my first novel based on my grandfather, Holonia Jilaka, whose life inspired this book. Although not a biography the novel’s timeline is based on the part of my grandfather’s history.
I recorded my grandfather’s story on tape when I was a University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) student many years ago. The part that I was interested in was the part where he went to the Highlands of Papua New Guinea in 1933 as a shepherd boy with the Catholic missionaries. He spent three years (1933-1935) in Simbu area before being discharged as a mission boy. He then joined the police force, taking his training in Rabaul depot under the instructions from Ludwig Somare and a sergeant from Buka. Kiap Jim Taylor recruited him into the police unit to make the historical Hagen Sepik patrol in 1938/1939.
My grandfather told me only part of the story. The rest I had to read and discover for myself. From the transcript I had of his story I began the writing project in December 1994/January 1995. At that time I was studying for my PhD in English at the University of Minnesota, USA. It was winter holidays but I could not return home.
To keep me busy and distracted from homesickness in the middle of Minnesota winter I decided to write five pages a day the early drafts of the novel, Land Echoes. I wrote every day without for two months, completing the first draft of the novel by the time February 1995 came around. I was quite happy with the self-productivity that winter. I think I completed around 500 pages of hand written notes.
I then started the process of typing the manuscript into my laptop. By the time classes started again I shelved the writing project for my PhD program. From time to time I returned to my manuscript in the next 20 years, even after my doctoral studies. I had some help along the way from colleagues and writers in PNG and Australia. I received documents, manuscripts, and books about the famous Hagen Sepik Patrol that Jim Taylor, John Black, and Pat Walsh, but only as sources of reference to contextualize the history that was made with the help Papua New Guinean policemen like my grandfather.
I was interested in highlighting the life of my grandfather against the early work of the Catholic Church in the Highlands and the Australian government’s administration of the newly discovered highlands region of Papua New Guinea.
The only way I could make sense of this was to delve into history that I was born too late to know. I equipped the writing life with raw imagination to enter into the period beginning late 1920s and 1930s to juxtapose that with periods from 1960s to the 1970s. The challenge with a project such as mine was to make history interesting to read through fictional narrative, while making sure to remain close to actual events in history.
While described as one of the most dangerous birds in the world, cassowaries are beautiful large flightless birds. I have posted a story about threats to cassowaries in Northern Queensland due to their habitat destruction. Read Here. I had mentioned the value of cassowaries in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in that post and I wanted to show what this bird means to our people. This legend comes from Garaina, in Morobe Province. I also come from Morobe. The legend was contributed to a national high school collection of legends told Stephen Suij.
How the Cassowary became a Flightless Bird – A Legend from the Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea.
Long ago, the cassowary was a big bird with a long neck, large legs and big wings which enabled it to fly like all other birds of the forest.
At that time, the cassowary and the hornbill were best friends, and spent most of their time flying around together, feeding on the delicious fruits at the top of the trees.
They were very close friends, but as time passed, the hornbill became increasingly jealous of the cassowary, who with his long neck could stretch and reach the best of the fruit pickings. The poor hornbill had to be content with leftovers.
While the hornbill hid his jealousy, he began to plan a trick to punish the cassowary.
One day the hornbill broke two dried sticks off a tree branch, placed them beneath each wing, under its feathers, and then flew off meet the cassowary.
“I have an idea”, the hornbill said to the cassowary.
“After we have fed on the fruit and are fully satisfied, let us do some stylish tricks in the air to see who is more brave and skilled.”
“Sure”, the cassowary said – liking the idea.
“But”, added the hornbill, “each of us must break his wings to see how far he can fly with broken wings.”
The cassowary had no objection to this ‘idea’, so when they had eaten enough fruit, they were ready for the game. The hornbill volunteered to go first.
Pretending to break his two wings, he snapped the two dry sticks beneath his wings and then flew away. He performed some stylish tricks in the air and then flew to a nearby tree to perch. The hornbill then called the cassowary to try to outwit his tricks.
The cassowary, ignoring the pain he had to suffer, broke his wings, one by one. Then he stretched the wings to fly away but he only crashed to the ground. He could not lift his weight with broken wings.
The hornbill broke into laughter at the top of his voice he said, “you have always had the most and the best of the fruit, but now you can stay on the ground and feed on my waste while I enjoy the best of the forest.”
From that day until today, the cassowary has been a bird of the ground, with wings that could not fly.
Flightless Feathered Family
The cassowaries are ratites, very large flightless birds in the genus Casuarius native to the tropical forests of Papua New Guinea, nearby islands and northeastern Australia. There are three extant species recognized today.
The most common of these, the Southern Cassowary, is the third tallest and second heaviest living bird, smaller only than the ostrich and emu.
Cassowaries (from the Malay name kesuari) are part of the ratite group, which also includes the Emu, rheas, ostriches, and kiwis, and the extinct moas and elephant birds. The other two species are the Northern Cassowary, Casuarius unappendiculatus and Dwarf Cassowary, Casuarius bennetti. They are also found in Papua New Guinea.
Cassowaries are very important to the native people of New Guinea both economically and ritually. Cassowaries have been traded for pigs and even as bride price for a wife and compensation payment especially in the highlands provinces .
Some tribes hunt them for their meat which is considered a delicacy. They use the feathers to decorate headdresses, and the feather quills for earrings. The sharp claws are often placed at the tips of arrows, while the strong leg bones are used as daggers.
For many native people, cassowaries are full of legends and mystical powers. Some tribes believe that cassowaries are reincarnations of female ancestors, while others believe that the cassowary is the primal mother. These tribes do not hunt or deal in trade with cassowaries.