Why our Traditional Knowledge is dying Away (Western Knowledge VS Traditional Knowledge)

“No one has monopoly over knowledge”, a quote from our International Relations lecturer Mr. Bernard Yegiora when I was in school. In this article, I’ll tell you why Traditional Knowledge is dying away, it is because of the monopoly in traditional knowledge.

Knowledge is meant to be shared freely for the betterment of all human race, however that is not the case in our traditional Melanesian societies as most knowledge is deemed sacred.

The difference between our Melanesian societies and the Westerners is that Westerners share their knowledge freely, say academics like a scientist or archeologist, anthropologist, etc., comes upon a wonderful discovery, that person does not harbor that knowledge or keep it hidden. The newfound knowledge or discovery is documented and published in books, articles for the whole world to read and learn. The knowledge is shared freely distributed to academic institutions, libraries and shared online in the modern day age of technology for learning and research purposes. Westerners do not have what we call ‘Keepers of Knowledge”, those who keep knowledge and share it only to a selected few.

In Melanesian societies, we have ‘Keepers of Traditional Knowledge’.
Westerners have what we call ‘SEEKERS OF KNOWLEDGE’, we Melanesians have what we call ‘KEEPERS OF KNOWLEDGE’. Westerners seek and look for (new) knowledge high and low while our Melanesian elders keep the knowledge, who in defense, they might say they’re protecting it, but from who?

Our traditional Melanesian societies never developed any form of writing to document their traditional knowledge, so it was passed orally to the men or women of the society during initiations. Traditional knowledge was passed onto the younger generation orally for the preservation of the knowledge, for boys, when they became men and underwent initiation in the hausman (House for men) and same for the women.

The young men got their teachings from the elderly men of the tribe and women, from the elderly women. Traditional knowledge that was meant for the men were only taught to the men and for women, taught only to the women. Knowledge was never freely shared between the two genders, men had their roles in the society and so did the women.

The initiation process in Melanesian societies is what we might call education for the young men, when they came out of the hausman after initiation, we would say they had graduated. Traditional knowledge of one tribe was sacred and therefore taught only to the members of that tribe, only the members of a tribe can wield such knowledge which comes with power and authority. It was never to be taught to the members of another tribe, this was forbidden.
Traditional knowledge is a knowledge of self for without a knowledge of our cultures and traditions, we are but lost. Traditional/Indigenous knowledge is intertwined with our history, through the tales and legends passed orally, we know who we are as a people, we can identify ourselves with our cultural practices, customs and languages.

Traditional knowledge in our Melanesian society is not shared freely and can never be, most people today do not know about their traditional knowledge, not because they didn’t learn them but because the keepers of the knowledge did not teach them, the keepers of the knowledge took the knowledge to the grave with them. It is about time we start documenting our traditional knowledge so people can learn about our sophisticated and not so primitive cultures. We have a thousands of indigenous knowledge that are slowly dying away with the older generation.

Let’s say my grandmother possesses a traditional knowledge, the “secrets of planting yam”, a traditional knowledge passed from her grandmother to her mother to her, a secret that makes your yams grow big. She however never passed it on to any of the females in our family that knowledge and now that she’s old, she’s going to take that traditional knowledge to the grave with her and that knowledge is gone, forever.

The generation after her may never know there existed a traditional knowledge on how to plant yams so they can grow big. To be honest, this generation knows nothing about their traditional knowledge, being brought up in a modern Melanesian society.

~Why Traditional Knowledge is dying Away

With the arrival of Westerners, they introduced to us their lifestyles, cultures, practices, their religion and their education system. Many Melanesian societies were introduced to the Western education in the early 1900’s, many young children were sent to schools established my missionaries, in schools and churches, they were taught that our traditional practices were evil and had to be destroyed or sent into oblivion.

Those who went for further education in colleges and universities came back home saying the Traditional knowledge was no match for Western knowledge and refused to be taught the old ways of their ancestors. Traditional knowledge had no place in a modern Christian society. The elders seeing there was no interest among the young men of the tribe educated in the Western ways died with sorrow knowing their once flourishing culture was coming to an end. They went to grave with the knowledge they possessed.

But not all traditional knowledge has to be shared freely, some are sacred to a tribe and therefore, must be respected, though document, it must remain with the members of the tribe to be taught to their children and their children’s children.


And a man sat alone drenched deep in sadness. And all the animals drew near him and said ‘We do not like to see you so sad, ask us for whatever you wish and you shall have it’. The man said ‘I want to have good sight’, the vulture replied ‘You shall have mine’. The man said ‘I want to be strong’, the jaguar said ‘You shall be strong like me’. Then the man said ‘I long to know the secrets of the earth’, the serpent replied ‘I will show them to you’. And so it went with all the animals, and when the man had all the gifts they could give…he left.
Then the owl said to the other animals ‘Now the man knows much and is able to do many things suddenly I am afraid’. The dee said ‘The man has all that he needs, now his sadness will stop’. But the owl replied ‘No, I saw a hole in the man, deep like a hunger he will never fill. It is what makes him sad and what makes him want. He will go on taking and taking, until one day the World will say ‘I am no more and I have nothing left to give’.

I got this story from Mel Gibson’s film “Apocalypto”
This is a true portrayal of men’s greed and desire to satisfy his wants, by any means necessary in turn destroying mother earth.

In Melanesian philosophy according to a lecture by our Lecturer, Professor Kula-Semos, Human beings are custodians of the physical/natural world that coexists with the spiritual world and the cosmos.

WE BELONG TO THE LAND, not the Land belongs to us.

We draw our philosophy from our oral cultures that are connected to the physical/natural environment, the cosmos and from human relations through the lived experiences.

However, in this generation, we have seen our men have claimed ownership of land and the resources that are on and below it. We have sold lands and resources to other men out of greed, we have forgotten our Melanesian philosophy our ancestors have embraced for generations.
In traditional mythology, it is believed that the earth world together with the sky, the natural environment, the spirit world, and humans are all interconnected as ONE.

That being said, destroying one of this will destroy everything for all are interconnected, we have spent more time destroying our lands, rivers and forests, we have forsaken our duties as guardians and custodians of the land or perhaps we have forgotten that we do not own the land, but are put here to protect it and pass it on to the ones who come after us.

We take and take from our land, and one day the land will say ‘I am no more, I have nothing more to give you’. Our ancestors were conservationists. Indigenous peoples have been the world’s best conservationists before the Western Word “Conservation” ever existed. They took only what they needed from the land, not more but we, their children have taken out more than we need out of greed.

In Dan Brown’s book ‘Inferno’, he discusses what we humans have done to our environment.

In Zobrist’s presentation, he says ‘We’re destroying the very means by which life is sustained.
We clear-cut, we dump, we consume, we destroy.
Half of the animal species on Earth have vanished for the last 40 years
And still, we keep attacking our own environment!
There have been five major extinctions in Earth’s history. Why didn’t we demand action? Unless we take bold immediate action, the sixth extinction will be our own’.

Yes the last extinction will be our own because we’re all interconnected as one, destroy one part of that whole and you destroy the rest.
We keep attacking our environment and destroying the very means by which life is sustained, what sustains life on earth?’

Forests, Rivers, Land, but here we are, destroying our forests and polluting our rivers, digging out the earth to mine minerals. We’re committing Ecocide; the Deliberate or uncaring destruction of our natural environment. And for what? Money?

There is Native American quote that goes “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize we cannot eat money.” Every life form plays an important role in the ecological balance. Each species depends on the services provided by other species to ensure survival. Hence proving our Melanesian philosophy of interconnectedness to be true.

We as Melanesians must go back and revisit how our ancestors lived, they were in harmony with mother earth. Only then can we see that we’re conservationists and we will be serious about environmental protection. And to protect our land and environment, we must take every measure.


The morning sun blinded Peter as he squinted his eyes to observe this particular traveler from a distance, he appeared to be in his mid-forties, he had a few grew hairs on his unruly shaved beard. The soles of his boots were worn out, just like the man himself. Both must have traveled far and wide. Peter thought as his eyes followed the traveler who went and stood next to the drain near the Lae-Madang bus stop in Goroka. He had a backpack resting on his chest. The traveler stood scanning not only buses but also the passengers in them. Peter whistled to one of his five Kina bus crews and signaled him with his eyes to check out the traveler, as he was a potential passenger.

Peter had been a bus crew for quite a long time working on several buses from Goroka traveling to Madang. His job was made easy when he was in Goroka because he didn’t have to run around looking for passengers or calling out ‘Madang Madang!’ until he exhausted his larynx. He had five-kina bus crews for that, while five-kina bus crews were running out dragging travelers and their luggage’s into the bus, Peter would chill at the buai table chewing and cracking jokes with friends or try his luck at the dart section.

In Goroka, there are five-kina bus crews and drivers. The five-kina bus crews go around looking for passengers while the five-kina drivers’ circles the bus around the bus stop. At times when there are no buses, this sees a rise in five-kina passengers. The five-kina passengers will secure a seat in the bus and sell it to those wanting to travel for K5 or K10. Bunch of opportunists but everyone got to find ways to earn money, Peter thought as he chewed his Madang stuck meat buai.

Peter watched as the five-kina bus crews who being skilled at sweet talking and convincing travelers to board their buses, tried their best at luring this traveler to board Peter’s bus. Peter watched as the traveler got on the bus and made his way to the last seat at the back and settle down near the window with his hands clasping tight his backpack, he thought the five-kina bus crews must have promised the traveler he would only pay K50, even though the bus fare from Goroka to Madang is K60.

Peter, working, as a bus crew traveling up and down the Highlands highway had met different people from different walks of life. He had developed a few skills having to do with studying human behavior and body language and having observed the traveler, he thought something was definitely odd and off about this human, he was acting weird when he stood next to the drain scanning buses. His eyes were everywhere as if he was running away from someone or looking out for someone.

Peter being observant, after a few minutes of studying the traveler’s body language came to a conclusion that this man must have had something in his possession, something he wasn’t supposed to be holding onto, something illegal perhaps, he having come across many people traveling from Eastern Highlands down to Madang, he knew he had to be prepared.

He quickly got on a bus at Goroka market and went to Seigu. At Seigu, he dropped into a second hand and filled up an empty 10kg rice bag with women’s clothing; women’s underwear’s, bras and tops. The second hand shop assistants gave Peter the awkward glance when he placed all the women’s clothing on the counter; this also drew the attention of many people second-hand. What would a man want to do with women’s clothing? Peter sensing the atmosphere and seeing the curios faces of the on-lookers, just said “Blo sales lo street oh”. Of course, he knew the people didn’t buy that but he didn’t care what they thought, he had a job to do and so he was off again, to the bus stop.

At around 11 am, Peter was back at the bus stop and by now, the bus was packed. Peter jump on the bus as the real driver of the PMV replaced the five Kina driver. Peter made payments to his casual workers; the five-kina bus crews and five kina driver and then called on the driver to pull out of the bus stop and drive to Faniufa service station to refuel the thirsty bus of some gas.

When the bus stopped at Faniufa service station, Peter stood up, looked at the passengers, cleared his throat and made a few jokes to lighten the mood of the passengers before giving a few toksaves to the traveling passengers. After his short toksave, he collected the bus fares and gave them 30 minutes to get whatever they wanted at the hauskai while the driver pulled the bus and parked it next to the vacant fuel pump to refuel. When the bus was refueling, all the passengers came out of the bus except for at least five people who remained seated in the bus. Two young kids, and three adults. Peter did a head count and started counting the bus fares collected from the passengers beside the bus to make sure very passenger paid.

One of the adults who remain seated in the bus was the traveler. He could be from Madang or Morobe, Peter was unsure. His old faded backpack was something big like the mountaineer’s backpack. He would open the bag’s zipper a little bit, spy into the bag, check the contents as if to see if it was still there and then zip it shut again before sitting it down between in his legs. Peter was still beside the bus counting the earnings from the trip, and once every minute, he would turn and throw a quick glance to see what the traveler was doing.

After counting his takings for the trip, he circled the bus to the other side of the bus to where the traveler sat. The traveler seeing Peter approaching, quickly put his hand into his string bilum, got out a buai, removed the buai skin and was now crushing the buai flesh in his mouth while opening the lid of the lime bottle, which was a pispis bottle doctors use in the hospital.

Peter being a talkative and a person with a great sense of humor tapped the window and motioned the passenger to slide the bus window open, which the man did hesitantly. When the glass slid open, Peter in his Goroka accent said “Apo nais wan eh, plis mi use’m kambang blo you pastem. Kambang blo mi, driver gim lo ol fokofi lo Lopi” which the man found hilarious and laughed, Peter was an expert in holding conversations, no sooner had they introduced each other, they were laughing and sharing smoke. Peter knew it was too early for him to ask the man about backpack and its contents, he would ask when the time was right, that is of course before they arrive at Kainantu.

When the passengers came back and boarded the bus, Peter gave laid down a few rules for the passengers to follow when traveling in the bus, rules like no smoking in the bus, chewers must have plastics or empty cans to spit their buai in and to not stop the driver every few miles to relieve themselves. Once the message was clear, the driver started the engine and by 12 sharp, they were at Korofegu bridge near the DPI station. There, the driver stopped the bus and everybody was asked to go relieve themselves, Peter still had his eyes on the man with the backpack. He assumed the man would never leave his backpack but then he saw someone jumping out the window at the back with a backpack, it was the traveler, Peter quickly circle around and waited for him, he had gone into the nearby bush and was relieving himself.

When he came out the bushes, Peter called him over and asked “Apo, mi lukim bag blo yu ya luk osem yu karim sampla hevi ya”, the man looked at Peter and rebuking his assumptions said ‘Nogat samting ya Apo’. Peter knew he was lying between his teeth so he said ‘Listen mate, help me help you. I’m trying to keep you out of trouble but I won’t help if you don’t tell me what you’re carrying’. The traveler looked around to see if anybody was nearby who could hear their conversation and putting his lips to Peter’s ear, he whispered ‘Boss mahn, mi karim hevi ya, 6kg drug mi pulapim lo bag’.

Peter looked at him searchingly and asked if he had done this before because how he conducted his business told Peter that this man was an amateur. He nodded his head and said no. Peter cleared his throat, and said ‘Listen to everything I am going to tell you to do, and you will go home to Madang safe with your illegal goods, do you understand?’, the traveler nodded his head still looking around. Peter slapped his head and told him not to act suspicious or weird or his actions might attract the attention of the passengers and most importantly the police who do road checks at Kainantu and Yonki.

Peter then told him to go in to the bus and get the 10kg trukai rice bag, which placed under the seat behind the offside seat of the bus and bring it. The traveler swiftly did what he was told to do, and was back in no time with the trukai rice bag, Peter then instructed him to go down to Korofeigu bridge and soak the contents of the bag in water, remove the price tags and bring the bag and its contents back.

The traveler did not check the contents of the 10kg trukai rice bag, he just ran off down to the creek to do what he was told to do in a hurry. The bag contained the second clothes, which Peter bought at the second hand shop in Goroka, but he did not tell the traveler what the content of the bag was.
When the traveler poured out the contents of the bag into the flowing water, what he saw caught him off guard. They were women’s clothing, they smelled of second hand clothing, and indeed, they were second hand clothes for they had price tags on them. The traveler thought why would the bus crew want me to wet all the women’s clothes and remembering Peter’s advice, he removed all the price tags.

When the traveler returned with the soaked clothing, Peter asked the traveler to empty the contents onto a dry grass and asked him to remove all the marijuana from his backpack. When the traveler started pulling out his goods, what Peter saw made his jaw drop. The drugs were, packed tightly and were wrapped with aluminum foils. He had never seen drugs being packed like this before. The drugs were packed in the shape of bricks, like how Mexicans packed their cocaine, seven bricks, Peter counted.

‘Now put them into the rice bag’ he ordered the traveler, the traveler quickly packed the bricks into the bag while scanning around to make sure they were not spotted by other passengers. After the drugs were loaded into the bag, Peter had the wet women’s clothing packed on top of the bricks, pants, bras and all. When the bus pulled out of Korofeigu, Peter just hoped the police would not do road checks today. He placed the bag under the seat, which was behind the offside seat.

When they arrived at Kainantu, Peter saw another bus coming up from Lae so he shouted to the bus crew of the other bus asking if there were road blocks ahead. The other crew shouting back from his bus said ‘only one road check just a few meters down the hill from the township of Kainantu’. The traveler sitting at the back felt a lump on his throat, his heartbeat tripled as he looked at Peter in fear, Peter motioned him to stay calm while putting a brave face so the traveler won’t have to panic and appear suspicious to the police at the road block.

When they arrived at the checkpoint, a traffic officer on the road called the driver to pull the bus over. The driver pulled over beside the road where the officer inspected his license and registration before calling out all the passengers out from the bus so they could search the bus. As soon as the passengers were out of the bus, a tall police officer who appeared to be from Sepik, from the look of his carving and dry face entered the bus and searched through the passengers luggage. Peter held his breath when the police officer pulled the 10kg bag out from under the seat, the traveler’s heart was beating fast and was ready to make a run for the nearby bushes if when the officer disccovered the illegal drugs.

The officer opened the bag and put his hand in; he felt something wet, felt like wet clothes. When he pulled the clothes out, in his hand were females bra and pants, ‘Yekereh!’, he exclaimed as he threw the wet clothes into the bag, ‘Bloody hell!’ he swore as he kicked the bag back under the seat where he pulled it out from. ‘Samting blo ol meri ya!’, wiping his wet hand on the seat covers of the bus and left the bus, Peter laughed so hard and said ‘Pasin blo sekim sekim ya, ba yu kisim klos blo ol meri’.

The angry officer yelled on the passengers and told them to board the bus and be off. Peter stood beside the bus door smiling as the passengers got into the bus one by one. Before the traveler stepped into the bus, he held Peter’s arm and whispered under his breath ‘Thank you boss mahn, mi gat dinau wantaim you’ and got in.
Peter just smiled, another successful operation!

Experiencing Hell

In 2011 after completing Grade 9 at Kwikila Secondary School in Central Province, I left school the following year (2012) to stay at home. My folks thought it would be better for me have a year off, I too agreed.

While at home, I got into so much trouble, hanging around on the street, doing street sales and once in a while brought Marijuana back to the village to sell there, like my elder brother did. We lived at six mile storeline on former Anglimp South Waghi MP Papa William Ekip Wii’s property. I grew up with his children so basically they were my brothers. I think they influenced me when I was growing up, most of my friends were from the settlement, Bodiem and Saraga, so I spent more time there, getting in trouble with those petty thieves who were skilled pickpockets and mine kutis, who can open a locked car with a piece of wire in the blink of an eye.

One day, after successful sales of stolen properties, my friends came looking for me at home. They bought a few drinks so we sat down drinking in front of the shop near the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, it was around 12 noon. After two cartons of SP and two 20oz warrior bottles, we were dead. When it was going towards the afternoon, cops pulled up on us, this was after someone reported to the police that we were causing nuisance on the street and attacking innocent people, and that was true, the strong drink ‘Warrior’ was newly introduced then had a high alcohol percentage that could reduce a man to an animal leaving him with no senses whatsoever, no ability make rational decisions, the alcohol percentage was high enough to numb a man and kill him.

When the cops pulled up, I was shirtless walking around screaming non-sense, though I was skinny as a twig, I always acted like an iron man. These cops were no ordinary cops, they were the famous and notorious six tiger, they were known for leaving small time thugs and drunkards half dead drinking their own piss. We personally knew the policemen, they jumped out the landcruiser and beat us senseless with big raintree branches, I don’t know where they got the branch from. I was dead drunk that I felt nothing, like I said, warrior numbed all my senses. The branch of my skin tore my flesh but I didn’t feel a thing.

They threw us into the landcruiser and drove down to the six mile police station, they threw us all into a cell that was overflowing with water and left, it was around five in the afternoon. Being drunk, I made myself comfortable on the pool of water and slept like a baby.  I woke up around 2 am in the morning from cold, when I came to my senses, I was sleeping in a pool or dirty water in a cell. I turned to see my three other friends hugging themselves tightly at the corner of the cell that the water had not reached and was dry.

I started shivering because I had no shirt on, then I started feeling sharp pains on my body when I moved my muscles. I went and stood near the cell iron where little light was visible and there, I inspected the bruises on my body. Damn! I thought after seeing on the swelling on my body, these people did a good job giving us the finisher. I was still under the intoxication of alcohol so the pain was bearable. I called on the cop morning night shift at the reception to bring me a shirt but he told me to shut the hell up.

When morning came, my folks came and paid me and my friends a visit bring us food and me some clothing. The cops told them they would release by lunch hour so they left. The station commander at six mile police station then was Brian Kombe, a very hard man. They told us we would be released if we cleaned up all the cells in the police station so for the next 2 hours, we brushed and scrubbed until inside of the cells were spotless. Since we knew the police men, we thought they would let us go but no.

We were called into a small office one by one and formal arrests were made. They loaded us into a police cruiser and drove towards seven-mile way, to Gordons, all the way to four mile and stopped in front of Boroko Police Station. We were brought in, papers signed by officers and the next thing we know, we were thrown into the cell with the other law breakers.

After about four days and three nights at Boroka cell while awaiting court, we were told they were bringing PNG’s notorious criminal down from Bomana maximum prison to Boroko police station for his hearing at the Boroko courthouse. All the kutis in there worshipped Kapris and called him ‘Bikpla Pukpuk’ or ‘Pukpuk mahn’. He was the king of crime, everybody in the cell, especially some big criminals who have been frequenting Boroko cell and Bomana prison for armed robberies respected him like a leader.

All of us were sent into the dark room cell seven to make way for Kapris. I swear I nearly died in there, there were no windows, just a small opening at the thick metal door which we took turns sticking our nose out to breath 3 minutes of fresh air, not that fresh. Everybody in there was fighting for a space to sleep, there was about 30 of us in that small cell and for the next two nights and one day, we were locked in there.

The atmosphere was tense, anybody complaining of sleeping space was beaten up by the other big thugs who have been in the cell for quite a long time and made it their home.

They would kick someone and say ‘ino haus blo yu, foldim leg han na sleep or bami brukim leg han blo u’. So when sleeping, you had to keep your legs folded, knees touching your chest while your sleep and it wasn’t advisable to stretch your legs or arms. One night a man accidentally kicked another man’s head when he stretched his legs in the middle of the night, the other got up and punched him and soon everyone was kicking and punching each other, it was pitch black dark in there, nobody saw anybody. Just legs and fist flying in all directions, a lucky punch landed on my face, I in anger flung a kick and heard someone scream in pain, I couldn’t tell who it was or which part of his body I kicked but from the way he screamed in pain, it must have been his nuts.

Taking a shit wasn’t allowed, when someone took a shit, he polluted the whole cell, being without windows, the cell had no proper circulation of fresh air and the smell of shit, would stay around for almost an hour before disappearing. When someone was taking a shit, everyone was fighting for fresh air at the small opening in the metal door. Those who farted were kicked in the head, I saw someone’s eyes turned white when he was kicked on the back and on the head, of course it wasn’t him who farted, but the poor guy was blamed and got a free beating.

The food was bad, eating rice was like eating ‘parao baki baki’, the people in there called it PK rice. The food was served in small ice cream containers, rusty tin plates and tray or storage container for food lids. The soup was over cooked, you could tell, the noodles tuned white from over boiling, it’s called 2 minutes’ noodles for a reason, however these cooks in the cell kitchen cooked the noodle for an hour from the looks of it, and we couldn’t even identify the tin fish. You had to eat quickly and retun the plate so food could be served for other thugs in the cell. This was a bad time to be locked up in a cell, I don’t know why everyone was angry, I could hear two men arguing over the toilet pot on who would take a shit first, the toilet was those old types of toilets that had no seats.

When weekend finally came, we were let out of the cell seven to come live in the outside open cell. The men on the other side and the women on the other side. In the cell had a small office which an old man occupied. I had befriended the old guy when we first came into the cell so I would go sit and tell stories with him when he wasn’t busy.

On Friday afternoon, some students from a secondary school in Pom were brought in, about four boys and three girls. They were heavily intoxicated, the police told us that they were involved in some cult activities and in group sex orgy. When the police left them, we jumped onto them and took off whatever we could get from their body.  I removed a Puma shoe from one of the students, just one side of the shoe, the ther side of the shoe was taken by another kuti so we both had to fight over the shoe until one of the big kutis came and took the shoe away from us and gave a PE shirt from one of the students.

The next morning, I saw one of the students looking at me so I knew he was looking at the shirt I was wearing which was his, I wanted to give it back but this was Boroko cell, you take it, you keep it. Period!

The day before that, an Engan taxi driver dropped some cigarette ash on a Goilala’s sleeping spot, the Goipex nearly stabbed the guy with a toothbrush for that.
The Boroko cell was home to the Goilala tekeras, lucky for me, we shared the same highway and border so I became friends with them and they supplied me buai and smoke. They would call me ‘Deboh Folomah’ which is the name they call my people from Kuni who border Goilala and Mekeo.

While in there, I would spend time with the old man in his little cubic office which was transparent glass and point to each person in the cell and ask him what crimes they had committed to be here. I saw a young mother with her child no less than a year old in the cell, she had just returned from court where she was sentenced to 7 years to maximum prison with hard labor for smuggling 10kg worth of marijuana. She was taken to Bomana the next day and her baby given to her relatives, we could hear her crying outside the cell as she was taken into the prison transport. It was just sad, my heart ached for the poor child and I cursed the mother.

I saw many faces, small thugs to white collar criminals in suit, murderers, rapists, drug smugglers, etc. while in Boroko cell. Some in there for crimes they committed and others, just suspects in crime. I also saw two young boys from Kairuku in Central Province, when I wanted to go talk to them, the Goilala’s warned me not to, they were awaiting court and had been in cell for almost four months for the muder of their uncle. They kept to themselves, made no interaction with other people in the cell, their spot was right below the window in the outer open cell.

After nearly two weeks of hell and bad food, our names we called and we were escorted out to the prison transport and transported to the Boroko District court for our hearing. Me and my three friends and other law breakers. Though we didn’t commit a serious crime, being in the prison transport made us feel like we were on the most wanted list. Our friends selling CD’s, flash drives and other items in front of Ori Lavi building went cray when they saw us in the transport.

We were locked in a small brick house outside the courthouse, the first person on trial was a drug dealer from Tari who was caught with 5 kilograms of marijuana at Gordons market. He was sentenced to 3 years in jail. Another was sentenced to two years in jail. When our time came, I felt a lump on my throat when we were escorted into the courtroom. This was my first time before a magistrate, I felt like throwing up. The magistrate was a woman, she had a hard face and a stone cold glare which would make even an innocent standing before her feel guilty of a crime he had not even committed.

Our charges were read out aloud and then our sentences laid out. My other three friends were above 18. I was only 15 about to turn 16 in 3 months’ time, I was a juvenile. Our sentence was 1 year 6 months in prison. I cried but hid my tears, my eyes were red.

After court, we were transported back, while in the transport, the Tari and others were planning to make a run when they brought us back to the cell. We drove into the Boroko police station carpark area through the back gate which is opposite the four mile drain and the Boroko market, two police men escorted us back, the other was my old friend whose office was in the cell.

When we came out the transport, the Tari made a dash for the gate which was about to be closed by a female police officer, I looked at my other friend from Simbu and told him to run too, the police men couldn’t run after them. I wanted to make a run but I held back, maybe because I would still get caught, my knees were disabled when the cops beat us up. The two guys ran for freedom and were gone. They were the first to get off the transport. The transport iron gate was quickly locked and bolted, shutting us inside while other cops came running out of the station to the transport with weapons.

They were beaten up outside in the carpark for our friends escaping and then let inside, my body was sore so I went to my regular sleeping spot and slept. They told us we were going to be transported to Bomana the next day, I slept face up looking at the ceiling and thinking why I didn’t make a run for freedom with the other two guys.

I didn’t go to sleep that night, I couldn’t even though I tried to shut my eyes. I was restless so I turned and faced the stained covered wall and cried, and prayed earnestly to God to set me free, I promised God if I was set free, I would not see the inside of a cell again.

Early next morning, I woke up and took a cold shower. We would we leaving at 9 am. I came back to my spot, sat down and waited for them to call my name so I would go to prison. Then after a while, I heard my name called out. I walked towards the iron bar and guess who I saw, my mother. I had never been so excited in my life, my mother went and paid for my bail and brought the receipt to Boroko cell. They bailed me and my other buddy but the other one was left inside, we were late when we came back to the police station to bail him out, he was already on a transport on his way to Bomana to serve his sentence.

Book Lovers Romance

Customers waiting in line outside BSP Bank in Goroka

I joined the long queue outside BSP bank in Goroka today at around something to 12 to pick up my long overdue bank card. I lodged an application for a new card a month ago, about two weeks ago, thinking my card was ready, I went to pick it up but was instead told they had run out of NRL themed cards so I had to pay for a Kundu card for K20 and pick it up after 2 weeks. I went yesterday but was told to come today so despite the long queue, blazing heat of the scorching sun, I ignored the coronavirus preventive measures of social distancing and joined the long line of people outside who from the look on their faces and their continuous complaints had been standing in the never moving, stagnant line for almost an hour.

Being an inpatient person, I humbled myself and stood in line braving the midday sun of Goroka which is hotter than Pom, Lae or Madang’s, in front of me stood a young girl, about the same age as me, I assumed. She had a bag slung across her shoulder, her hair was untidy and roughly done in what seem to be an unsuccessful attempt at braiding. Her shirt was faded and she wore a cut jean. She had a fair and smooth skin.

Standing behind her, I had no way of seeing her front, you know what I mean. She had something in her hand and once in a while I would see her hand move as if she was flipping through something. After 30 minutes or so, I wanted to see what my queue friend was doing so I peered over her shoulder, she being a few centimeters shorter than me gave the advantage to look over her shoulder to see what see what doing, I know it was not right but I had to, as any person bored to death waiting in a line that wasn’t seem to be moving would do.
What I saw her doing caught me by surprise, she was reading a book. She was reading in public, not in the bank but outside beside the footpath despite hundreds of people and vehicles moving to and fro, she paid no mind to anybody, she was caught up in her book. I looked to the front and then turned and looked to the back to see what other people were doing while waiting in line. Most of the younger people were on their phones, some surfing the web while others were listening to music as they had headphones blocking their ears and blocking out the world, and most elderly people had newspapers opened, they were reading about the usual stuff you find in papers.

Then it dawned me, in this generation where all the young people are glued to their phones and their world revolves around their phones, there are few who still grab and read a book wherever they are, they turn the pages and get lost in the author’s world and standing in front of me is this young lady, reading, she would take out her phone occasionally to check the time and then continue her reading. I spied a page on the book she was reading and found it to be a romance novel, something like Mills and Boon so I thought this might be actually my chance to strike up a romance with this young rugged haired book lover. So searching in my bilum, I pulled out my Ignatius Kilage’s semi-autobiography “My mother calls me Yaltep” and flipped the pages to chapter 8 titled “Courtship” to get a few tips on how to woo a lady. Kilage’s book is one of my favorite books by a PNG author so I always carry it in my bilum wherever I go and when I get bored, I turn the pages and read a few chapters.

And so I started reading, and in my mind hoping she would turn around and me reading too and then we would establish that romantic connection like the fictitious stuff we see in romantic movies. I would like to think my reading wasn’t genuine, I just wanted her to see me reading but after almost an hour and covering 7 chapters, I forgot all about her. When the inside of the bank was cleared, the security officer opened the bank door and we came rushing into the bank in hopes of getting in line first in the different sections. I went and stood in the withdrawal line, she went and joined the deposit line which is next to the withdrawals. The bank teller who assisted me yesterday asked me to come see her so she could assist me promptly so instead of joining the Enquiries line, which is the line you join to apply for a new card or pick up a new card, I found myself in the withdrawals section.

The withdrawals and deposits section lines in the bank are close together, I looked and lo, she was a few feet ahead of me in her own line. I thought well I’m never going to see her again or she ain’t never going to see me read a book. I placed my hopes on her turning around and seeing me read, that is stupid I know. But luck was on my side, the waves of destiny and the winds of romance were totally on my side for the withdrawals line moved quickly than the deposits line, maybe because the good ladies in the withdrawals section were working fast for they knew they were about to be part of something great, I would call them my matchmakers lol, no not even.

No less than 20 minutes passed, I was close to her, she was in the opposite line, and then she turned, looked past me, then at me and slowly her eyes went down to my hands, and in my fingers was a book. She was still holding her book, she then lifted her eyes and met mine. My heart stopped when she smiled at me. At that moment, I wanted to break a knee in front of her and propose to her, ‘will you marry me?’, I didn’t have no ring but I would propose with the book, ‘will you take this book and me?’

I was still daydreaming about what we would do together that I didn’t realize that the line was moving and the people in front of me were 2 feet ahead of me, the older lady standing behind me whose fragile knees were about to give way scolded me and told me to move on, when I took a few steps, I was ahead of my soul mate. I couldn’t turn around and look at her even though I wanted to, I’m sure she wanted me to turn around too but we were in the bank and everyone was frustrated and cussing under their breath. The foul atmosphere killed the romantic atmosphere and my chances of having a romance with a book lover was gone.

When I picked up my card, I walked out and waited outside of the bank for her for another 15 minutes hoping she come out quick but the small fake rainy showers of Goroka sent me seeking refuge in the nearby Asian shop. I might never see her again but if it is fate that we saw each other, I pray and hope that we meet again in a place where people come to stand in line and complain about the sun and the bad smells of body odor all through to the various sections of the bank.