Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The rural politician delivers more

So the rural politician delivers services to his people after all.

That is what storyboard discovered on the 8th September 2010 in Alotau town when his bag, reported missing in the Weekender article of August 13th (Literacy projects and rural politics ) was safely delivered to him. And who could be responsible for such a safe delivery of baggage to its rightful owner than our rural politician, the child prodigy talked about in that article. 
  When the bag was first discovered misplaced on 26th July our rural politician became aware of the presence of the Anuki Country elders as equal witnesses and decided then to observe the correct procedures in passing the bag to the owner through the rank and file of each village, starting from Woruka where storyboard witnessed a literacy and Bible translation book launching the previous day. Since the bag was discovered at that village, noted our politician, it had to be stored at that village and at the house, if any, of the clan storyboard comes from or is connected to in rank. A house and family was immediately identified and there it was that the bag was deposited for safe keeping until the owner came for it. What fascinated storyboard with that detail was our rural politician’s choice of listening to the advice of the elders which told him that the bag ought to be deposited at a household equal in rank to storyboard’s own. The household nominated thence belonged to the Bogerara clan, which is also storyboard’s family and rank in the village setting.

It is not exactly clear what part our rural politician played in the sudden disappearance or misplacement of that bag on the morning of 26th July. But the fact remains that the whole village was aware of the bag being left by the dinghy that storyboard boarded to travel to Alotau. Now in the Great Anuki Country it is common knowledge that whenever a secret gesture of malice becomes public knowledge it automatically loses its power as a scheme to wrong others. Thus, a magical spell cast on another loses it power the moment its source is discovered and made known to every member of the community, no matter how powerful that magic, art of witchcraft or sorcery might be. The public is the healer for every individual careless enough to become a victim of such mysterious powers which indeed seek to influence, dominate and control.

Viewing the whole business of storyboard’s missing bag from that perspective, it would seem that our young politician would be classified as the sole perpetrator revealed in the nick of time. Bravo, we might say, we have one under our control; he won’t bother us anymore, and that sort of thing.
But there was something else in play here which storyboard found fascinating; and that is the young man’s ability to politick successfully in that rural setting. In order to win favour or credibility from his potential followers and eventually voters he had to show or display through the language of maiba a thorough understanding of the social structure of which he was a product as much as member. Once the bag was stored at its delegated homestead it meant that several clans and family members would attempt to claim it starting from the top down, if storyboard was not there physically to retrieve it himself. Several clan members had offered to claim the item on behalf of the storyboard - all of whom were denied possession by the clan house at Woruka. Finally, it was the clan of our young politician which was given the opportunity to do the bidding; and he, our rural politician, being in charge, sent it straight away through a contemporary of storyboard to Alotau.

By now we can see that almost every clan had its turn in bargaining for the ownership of the bag. A few had even suggested tearing open the bag to share its contents among their families. These were families closer to storyboard who were, would one believe, his first cousins. They were reprimanded, of course, when storyboard got to Tototo. In the bag were a change of clothing, a digital camera, a mosquito net and toiletries and a few packets of coffee, coffee mate and some biscuits and sugar.

When storyboard went home (8th to 14th September) he heard so much discussion at various points and villages along the coastline of the Anuki Country on the fate of this poor misplaced little bag from the urban areas. And each word uttered had a lot do with what belonged to whom and what did not. “Are we thieves, people of Anuki?” was the resounding rhetoric heard over and over.

Then on the 13th September, the morning storyboard was leaving Besima Bay for Alotau, he noticed the dinghy loaded with a variety of raw sea food and vegetables, including mats, clay pots and so many other little gift items. He looked questioningly at those who came by to see him off and among them was our rural politician, standing a little aloof but content on being an observer from afar. His wife, who is also a relative of storyboard’s, quietly made her way to storyboard and explained that all that was loaded on the dinghy as infrastructure was to be distributed equally to those that deserved them, “especially our relatives in towns and cities who have less to eat than those of us in the rural settings of the Great Anuki Country.”

But, of course, storyboard knew where all that oratory was coming from. The rural politician certainly delivers more.