Never Give Up (featuring Cyclone Tongia)

Tyrone “Cyclone” Tongia is a name hitting hard in boxing circles in Australia, becoming the Australian middle weight champion 18 months ago when he defeated Andrew Gosden. This young man is another example of a PNG Warrior making it big overseas.

Tyrone is the nephew of former Kyokushin karate champion Sensei Wally Schaubelt and also a former uchi-deshi with Shihan Cameron Quinn. However unlike his famous uncle, Tyrone has converted to the sweet science of boxing.

I recently found a music video on Youtube featuring him by Fortafy & Jagarizzar called Never Give Up. Jagarizzar is a popular PNG musician who is now based in Australia.

Prohibition will brew more problems

SP Green Can and Stubby
Is this really the cause of our social problems? Picture sourced from SP Brewery website.

At the moment a debate is going on after a few political leaders called for the prohibition of alcohol in the country. There have been many points for and against the call with each side presenting some valid points. However, I will take side against this issue.

Before going further I will have to point out that although I occasionally consume alcohol, I am not a great fan of the beverage and I have seen a lot problems caused that are alcohol related. However, I believe prohibiting it will only brew other, larger problems. The history books and journals provide solid evidence of this as in the Noble Experiment from 1920 to 1933 in the United States (US).

In 1917, the US Senate proposed the Eighteenth Amendment which along with the Volstead Act established a prohibition on the sale, manufacture and transport of ‘intoxicating liquors’ excluding those used for religious purposes. It was ratified in 1919 and took effect on January 17, 1920, but did not ban the consumption of alcohol but made it difficult to legally obtain the stuff.

The prohibition created a demand void that was quickly filled by illegal alcohol and criminal opportunists willing to supply it. Mafia groups who usually dealt in prostitution, gambling, extortion and theft quickly used their logistics to organize bootlegging – a very profitable trade. Enforcement agencies were corrupted and cities became battle grounds for opposing syndicates. Wikipedia records that studies revealed a rise in crime rates.

“…during the prohibition years of 1920 and 1921, the number of crimes increased by 24%. Additionally, theft and burglaries increased by 9%, homicide by 12.7%, assaults and battery rose by 13%, drug addiction by 44.6% and police department costs rose by 11.4%.”

The prohibition soon became unpopular with the public and in 1933; President Theodore Roosevelt signed an amendment repealing the Eighteenth Amendment. However, the damage was already done among which was the unintended loss of jobs as a result of the ban.

If something is to be learned from this period in history, it is that putting a blanket ban on alcohol is bound to great more problems. The ban will, without a doubt, drive the consumption of illegal brews like ‘steam’, ‘punchie’, ‘yawa’, ‘bucket’, etc. Opportunists will also see an opening for a very profitable market and black market prices will surely soar which will probably lead to criminals becoming more brazen in order to find the money to fund their habits.

I must also point out that we already have laws that deal with alcohol, public behavior and society in general. However, these laws are not being implemented which is probably the actual problem. If the responsible authorities properly implement current laws, I doubt there will be a perceived need to ban alcohol.

The Crocodile has been let loose

Pukupuk Art Logo
Pukpuk Art Logo. Sourced from PNG Attitude.

The Crocodile has been let loose and is on the hunt for more poems, short stories and essays. Yes, Phil Fitzpatrick has announced on PNG Attitude that The Crocodile Prize 2012 Literary Competition is open for business. This year’s contest proved a great success with all copies of the first prints snapped up. Don’t worry, a reprint has been ordered.

Unfortunately I did not attend the inaugural workshop and awarding ceremony and missed out on getting a copy of the anthology. However, Phil has enlisted the help of Mari Ellingson who will be distributing reprints. Any writer who missed out can contact her at mjellingson@rocketmail.com.

Phil has also mentioned the possibility of increasing the categories in the future.

While we will look at expanding the categories in later competitions we also have an open mind.  If anyone has a short play (around 10 minutes long) or novella (about 20,000 words) we are happy to look at it and consider including it in the competition.  Unfortunately, we won’t be geared up to accept full length novels and non-fiction for a while yet.  Rest assured the plans are on the drawing board.

Writers wishing to enter the competition can get more information on the PNG Attitude blog.

The Sheppards are coming to town

The Sheppards
The Sheppards. Picture sourced from http://www.triplejunearthed.com

I first read about the Sheppard siblings in an issue of Airlines PNG’s in-flight magazine. The story titled ‘Heard of Sheppard?’ was written by Amanda Donigi and showed the Papua New Guinean connection they had.

They currently reside in Brisbane but George and Amy Sheppard grew up in Port Moresby and attended the Ela Murray International School. It was there that their musical talents were encouraged by the humble yet legendary Buruka Tau.

Towards the end of the article, Amanda made a daring prediction that maybe they would get to play in PNG in the near future. She could be psychic because the duo will be in the country in October.

The pair will be performing at the Dynasty Restaurant at Vision City mall on the 14th and 16th of October and introducing their style of music which has been described on Tripple J’s Unearthed as

… an exciting new indie/pop group from Brisbane formed by Amy and George Sheppard. They began collaborating musically with Sydney guitarist Jay Bovino in early 2011, and the result is a fun, completely original sound.

I’ve had a listen to a couple of their songs and I must agree that their music is completely original. There are of course influences of Cold Play, Fleetwood Mac etc, but nothing strong enough to put as a solid base.

Their performance is Port Moresby will be on the 14th of October which starts at 6pm and includes dinner. This will put you back K450. You catch their other performance on the 16th for K50 at 2:30pm. Light snack will be served at this event and there will be raffles and giveaway prizes.

Proceeds from the performances will go to the following foundations: Operation Open Heart Foundation; RH Foundation; We Care Foundation; PNG Children’s Foundation; Buk Bilong Pikinini, and; the RSPCA.

If you want to catch their performance live then tickets can be purchased at the following outlets, RH Vision City, RH Hypermart, SVS Harbour City, Fui Gui Restaurant, or you can call (+675) 311 23 11.

SHEPPARD ON THE WEB

The elusive lyrical message

Lucky Dube - Slave
Most of my peers never got the message in his songs.

One thing I have noted among many of my peers is that most never actually take time to digest the lyrics of a song properly. I’ve seen people ironically drinking and listening to the late Lucky Dube’s Slave; a song about being addicted to liquor (alcoholism). I could excuse those who do not speak or understand English but it also happens with songs sung in our Creole, Tok Pisin (pidgin).

Yes, a few years back a song by Leonard Kania reached the top of the charts. The song was called Black Pawa and was a ballad about black magic and sorcery – the kind that was used to attract the opposite sex. The irony was that the song established a strong following among a nation of Christians. Even now the message in the songs still eludes us.

If you watch the auditions of the Digicel Stars 2, you will notice a good number of those auditioning clearly do not know the words. This suggests that my peers do not actually listen to the lyrics; instead they focus their minds on the music. This is an easy trend to fall in. I guess it’s also a reason I love old school rap.

One of my favorite rappers DMX once rapped to a studio audience and at the end said ‘fuck a beat, listen to words of the damn song’. He made it absolutely clear that rap was not about the music – it was about the lyrics. Even the legendary poet Tupac Shakur (2Pac) knew the power of lyrics and all of his songs, although surrounded with profanity, had in its core, an underlying message of love, strength and hope.

The underlying issue is that we are no longer getting the intended message. Music (and poetry) is not something that should just be read or heard; it must be digested and broken down to its core in order for it to actually mean something.

The next time you listen to a song or read a poem, do not just lightly trod through, take a deeper look – you might just get the message.

Follow the Green Arrow

A karateka performing kata
A karateka performing kata. Picture from Wikipedia

The performance of our track athletes during the recent Pacific Games in Noumea cannot be denied. Their efforts and contribution to the gold tally upped our placing on the scoreboard. All thanks to the efforts of Tony “Green Arrow” Green (excuse the nickname but I find it highly appropriate for the post), who is probably responsible for the outstanding performance and scholarships our athletes are enjoying. The rest of the sporting body should take a cue from the Green Arrow and follow his lead.

Careful scrutiny of Team PNG will reveal that codes that had healthy exposure, clinics, workshops and active participation performed exceptionally well. The codes that did not…well, the results speak for it. An example would be the difference between track and karate. Although the two are not within the same sporting category, I am using them to illuminate a point.

The majority of star track athletes like Toea Wisil, Mowen Boino, Nelson Stone and Sharon Kwarule etc, are all privileged to be on scholarships overseas and were at their peak in mental and physical preparations – a world away from karate.

The karate team that went to Noumea found out that the rules had changed. The rules that they had rigorously trained for no longer applied. This created confusion which resulted in a few potential gold medallists withdrawing at the 11th hour. The others who showed true Budo spirit and fought could not adapt quickly to the change and as a result potential medals were lost.

Karate has not been active in the country for a few years. There have not been any coaching, clinics, o major events that involved participation from overseas experts. This, in my opinion, made our karatekas loose touch with the international sporting body and was not updated of the changes. The result was only one female karateka, Melisa Turia, managed to win gold. The rest did not succeed.

I am sure that if other codes had the kind of training, clinics, coaching and scholarships that athletics has, we would see an improvement in sporting codes and our gold potential would be significantly increased. It is now up to the responsible sporting bodies to actively foster the development of their codes in preparations for the next Pacific Games.