Weird Déjà Vu and Dust over Rabaul

It was an odd feeling, standing in front of the school dad always talked about.
It was an odd feeling, standing in front of the school dad always talked about. I’m standing with Andy, Naomi and Stephanie

In 2006 I visited the dusty town of Rabaul for the first time. My parents had both gone to school there and my mother grew up there – she even speaks the local vernacular, Kuanua – so it was kind of weird seeing places that I heard about when I was growing up.

My late father went to Malaguna Technical High. Back then it was more of a technical secondary and students, who went there, went for further studies at Unitech in Lae. Dad, obviously being a nambis mangi (coastal boy) studied motor mechanical but later decided to become a civil engineer at Unitech. However, he did not complete studies and instead opted to go work for Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL).

Mum, as I said, grew up in Rabaul and used to tell me about her uncle who used to harvest megapod eggs. The shell delicacies would be dug up from their nests in the loosely volcanic soil and in one unfortunate expedition the soil collapsed on him. He suffocated and died. However, her fondest memories were probably of the home they had.

My grandfather, Anthony, worked for Elcom (now PNG Power) and everyone called him Tiger because of his temper. He was a busy man and was always envisioning ways to improve his family’s living conditions. In fact, he came up with a very unique concept for a pit toilet.

He designed and built a pit toilet that would be “cleaned out” every time there was heavy rains and flooding.

Anyway, it was an odd feeling of déjà vu going and seeing all this places that I heard so much about as a kid. I was around 23 years old when I went there.

I was a casual with the National Statistical Office (NSO) and went there to conduct the Demography and Health Survey (DHS). The survey had taken me places including places like Agitana which I mentioned in my previous post, ENB, Bereina, Malalaua and most parts of the Port Moresby you did not know existed – but we’ll just have to stick with my ENB adventure for today.

Now, there are many great things about the province. The people are mostly friendly and the food is great and very affordable. I was going to say cheap but it sounded dirty. However, the most impressive thing was the road network which connected nearly every village.

This made our work very manageable. We did not have to wait for transport or walk up mountains. It also allowed us to cover large areas within a day and it has fuelled the province to become one of the most economically productive in the country.

Anyway, Rabaul, as you may already know, was destroyed some years back by the volcanic eruption. They have tried rebuilding it but Tavurvur and Vulcan have been occasionally coughing up dust and smoke ever since, so Kokopo has become the new capital.

Kokopo is a place I wouldn’t mind living and working in (if you don’t mind the tropical heat).

Interesting show at the 2013 Trade & Safety Expo

Wow. It was an interesting show at the ISAS sponsored 2013 Trade and Safety Expo at the Holiday Inn.

Outside was an interesting collection of bikes and inside was packed with corporate stalls from mostly ISAS companies, BSP, Hot FM, FM100 and others including a small printing company called Jema Limited.

There was also the re-branded Green and Fresh, and they had a juicy display of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Unfortunately, the thing that my colleagues and I went to see had run out – the solar panels going for K200! We enquired if they were going to bring in more but couldn’t get a straight answer.

It was also unfortunate that a K20 entrance fee was charged. I believe this may have been a put off for many people.

Poor tools, poor workmanship

DSCF4053As an IT personal I’ve always found that the right tools always make the job easier and the output better. I’m sure it’s the case with every other professional and so it was quite a sad sight this morning on the way to work when I saw this man raking rubbish with an almost toothless rake.

I’m sure substantial amounts of monies are being paid to contractors engaged to clean our streets but why are they using equipment that is falling apart? And don’t tell me it’s a funding issue!

As in any work, if you are given the right tools, you do the job right.

Video game trailer puts traditional PNG warriors in the limelight

Call of Duty: Ghosts
PNG WARRIORS: Screenshots of the warriors in the teaser trailer of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Images captured from IGN.com

We rarely find pictures or stories about Papua New Guinean warrior culture in the entertainment industry. When we do, we find that it is often distorted to entertain and amuse. However, a video released by a major video game company puts our warrior culture under a new light.

The teaser trailer for the new game in the Call of Duty series, Ghosts, features two of our most famous warrior cultures; the Huli Wigman and the Asaro Mudman.

Although not much is being written about it, these two are pitted against a montage of warrior cultures including the much revered Spartans, Samurai, Ninja and Viking warriors.

The trailer has attracted mixed reactions from Papua New Guineans on social site Facebook.

Andrew Molen, administrator of Facebook group PNG Warrior, said it was “great to see our traditional Warriors featured in one of the world’s well known video games” and Brendon Obara of Sharp Talk thought it was “cool”. However, others were not so hyped about it.

Olpen Kujap stated that “it his is true, the producers have to be sued for using the features that belongs to the concerned people!” Others also shared the same sentiments questioning if the producers had sought consent from the people who owned these cultural trademarks.

The settings for the video game are not known. However, IGN.com states that the first mission is rumoured to start in Croatia with the basic gaming style of escape the enemy. However, it will be harder to differentiate friend from foe due to the nature of being a “ghost.”

The video game is developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision is set to be release in November this year in Xbox, PlayStation, Wii and PC platforms.

The video game trailer, posted on video sharing site Youtube, has had over 3 million views and counting.

The fact that these warriors are featured in one of the world’s most famous video games creates an exciting new opportunity for the tourism industry to market our country to the world. The slotting of our warriors with world famous warrior cultures puts us on the limelight.

The long walk to Agitana

DSCF4037The recent photograph on the front page of The National triggered memories of my stint with the National Statistical Office (NSO) and the long walk up to mountains of Agitana village in the Central province.

It was late in 2006 but I can still recall it like it was yesterday. We had started off the previous afternoon and stayed at a village along the Magi Highway. Early the next morning we made our way to the remote village of Agitana which lay on the border of the Koiari and Rigo districts.

The first part of journey was on a truck and it took us about three hours along an old logging road before we reached a river. There were walked up the mountains for almost four hours before arriving at our destination. However, we heard that the locals often made the walk in an hour or less!

We had packed foodstuff, electric lamps, tents and mosquito nets for trip so there was a bit of weight on our shoulders. On top of that, we had female members in our team so we had to accommodate their speed. The road itself was scenic but we were warned by our guide of Papuan Blacks and leeches.

I, unfortunately, had a leech suck on my leg but thankfully our team leader, Andrew Waio, had experience in these types of situations and burned it with a match instead of just pulling it out.

The locals were quite welcoming and we were asked to stay at the village councillor’s home for the night. His name, if I can recall correctly, was Ubure.

In true Melanesian hospitality, the villagers brought us plates of food and came to entertain us with stories that night. It was almost like we were long lost family members who had come back after a long time away. In exchange for their hospitality, we gave distributed our foodstuff, which were mainly tinned food and rice, to those who brought us food. That was on a Friday.

The next day, Saturday, we were asked to observe the local’s day of worship and did not do any work. The village was predominantly Seventh Day Adventists (SDA) and so to respect their wishes we stayed in and took in the sights of the village.

According to the locals, the village had moved location to higher grounds after a flood. However, land issues had forced some villager to return to their original location.

There were a number of houses in the village that had iron sheet roofing and the villagers told us about how men from their village would ferry modern building materials across the Sirinumu and then carry them over a couple of mountains to their village.

On Sunday morning we started our exercise of collecting statistics for the Demography and Health Survey and by noon we had finished. This was mainly due to the fact that their councillor had advised the villagers that we would be conducting our interviews on Sunday during their church service the previous day.

The villagers were excited to meet us mainly because we were representatives of the government and it was the first time in a long while since officials had visited their village.

Most of the villagers when hearing that we were from the government would air out their frustrations. Their common consensus was that they were traditionally a part of the Koiari people. They speak the Koiari language and even share the traditional practices and beliefs. However, a political border written by expatriates a long time ago has forced them to be considered as part of inland Rigo. This did not bother them as much as the lack of government services that reached them.

There were no proper roads to the village which made it difficult for the people to transport their produce for market and to bring in much needed medical supplies and other essentials.

They raised many queries regarding government services but being engaged to conduct interviews for the DHS survey meant that we could not answer or address any of it unless it fell into our jurisdiction. However, I have always thought about the people of that small village and only today I have put pen to paper.

This so that people are aware that even the localities close to the city are often neglected, but you don’t get to see it in the media.

I hope that after I left some kind of development or change would have taken place and the people would know that the survey I went there to conduct was not just an exercise but something that brought them change.