Wednesday, June 29, 2011

TIME: a poem by Ruth Kamasungua


Tiempo, Dinero, Tiempo
Todos vienen en oro
Importantes y deseados

Comprar, vender gastar
Es todo lo mismo

Presupuesto, inversión, ganancias o pérdidas
No hay diferencia
Entre tiempo y dinero

Pero el tiempo es más importante
Ya que no puede ser pesado en toneladas

A diferencia del oro
Es dado gratuitamente
Sin un rótulo del precio

Úsalo o gástalo
Ten en cuenta que Dios nos lo ha dado
Todos somos responsables

Y ningún mortal puede escapar

Tr: Irene Kawakami Gashu


Taim, mani, taim
Ol ikam olsem gol
Hevi na man isave laikim stret

Baim, salim na westim
Em wankain tasol

Burukim na skelim, mekim wok, wokim profit o lusim mani
Ino gat mak
Istap namel long taim na mani

Tasol taim i hevi tru
Bilong wanem yu no inap putim taim antap lon skel

Ino olsem gol
Taim ikam fri long yumi
Igat wanpela prais istap antap long taim

Yu ken usim o yu ken westim
Tasol yu mas lukaut gut, God i givim taim
Olgeta man bai sanap long kot

Ino gat wanpela man bai ranawe

Tr: Ruth Kamasunugua

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The beauty of language

The first semester exams at UPNG have come and gone in but a bat of an eye-lid. 

No doubt lecturers and tutors will be busy marking those exam papers. 

A question that needs to be asked though is how much time the academia itself will spend on looking at the sentences in those exam papers. Each sentence should reflect a lecturer’s satisfaction in initially giving hints to his students on how to write and express themselves well in the English language. A good essay, story, report on a scientific experiment, a mathematical treatise or even an anecdote in written form should give the reader a considerable amount of pleasure. And that is what we mean by the beauty of language.  

One hopes that our UPNG lecturer and examiner does not look at one paper, frown, put it away, and then pick up another for want of comfort in reading and enjoying a good essay. 
If that happens, then it is absolutely true that the standard of written expression at the Waigani Campus has dropped drastically over a very short period of time. 
Several factors surface as causes of such an abrupt drop of standards in the use of English and other areas of academic performance.
Firstly, the course loads that seemingly “overburden” our students. Each student in the BA stream is required to do four courses a semester. Exceptions are given to those at third and fourth year levels to overload, if they feel ready at a given semester to qualify as prospective graduates.
A load of four courses therefore means a lot of work, in the areas of reading, research, analysis and discourse. That number of courses affects second to fourth year students. It is the correct number, considering the demand of work load. A student who cannot handle that number of courses, particularly within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, ought to consider switching to the sciences or the medical school. Reading and writing can become too much of a bother for some sometimes.
Secondly, the state of panic that this number of courses can cause a student. The dreaded number of assignments, for example. Having four assignments to write every two weeks requires skill and time management. A very few manage to produce a good paper in that time frame. And the list goes on.
How to remedy such a situation. Here we look at the work load of the lecturer or tutor as mentor. A good mentor has time for his students. Even if there are 300 of them in a course he still must have time to know all of them. And he does so by carefully reading all of their assignments. A student is best known through his or her writing. And it is here, in this area of academic activity, that a lecturer comes to terms with the word selectivity. The lecturer must have time with the student to point out his or her strengths and weaknesses in writing. Otherwise it is pointless deciding who gets an A and who fails.
But the most important thing that storyboard is getting at here is cultivating the beauty of language usage in our students. Here are a couple of samples of how that can be done.
“These poor people can walk long distances leaving my village few kilometers behind just to get to PMV trucks at areas where the road conditions are quite good to take their produce into town (Port Moresby) to sell and even to visit their relatives or family living here because they are tired of eating the staple food banana almost the whole year.”
This writer will make a good politician one day. You can see that by the length of her sentence. But in order to become that good politician she must learn to be brief. Brevity is what we want here, both in speech and written form. Certainly a Dorothy Tekwie in the making. Call her in and tell her that.
“Being a loyal and devoted leader who has served his people well during his time of leadership, seventy-six year-old Faleasa Osovae has been so concerned about the future of his people and nation as a whole that he wants upcoming leaders to be sane, young, hardworking, honest, absolutely fearless, and utterly devoted to the welfare of the people.”
This other writer sounds rich with vocabulary. He needs to own little, slow down a bit with palaver and discard some of the unnecessaries in his choice of vocabulary. Storyboard feels he will do as a critical thinker and writer. He deserves a B.
We could provide more good examples but due to limited space all we can say here is that language itself is beautiful. We must be kind to it in our writing no matter how busy we are.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


      by Ruth Kamasungua

 Diwai kros!
 Na blut!
 I naispela tru

 Hat bilong king
 Na glori
 Na laip istap gut oltaim 

 Ol dispela samtin i dia tumas 
 I bilong mi nau
 Dispela i kamap tru, bikos  

Diwai kros na blut
Na dispela rot Kraist yet i makim pinis   

Long dai
Long mi


The Cross!
The Blood!
The most beautiful

The Crown
The glory
And life enternal

These priceless gifts
Are mine
All because of

The Cross!
The Blood!
And my Saviour's decision

To die
 For me

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


                                          Another trilingual rendering of Ruth Kamasungua's poem 


Floating against the vast blue sky
The clouds float dreamily
Having no destination
Wandering aimlessly
In the form of all kinds
And shapes
Looking as harmless as doves
Who knows what storm it holds!
What floods it can cause!
When it decides to return
To mother earth


Flout antap long blupela skai
Ol kilaut i flout olsem man i driman
Inogat wanpela ples tru we ol i makim
Ol igo, ikam, long olgeta hap
Long kainkain sais
Na seip
Ol i luk olsem pisin bilong bel isis
Tasol husat i save wanem bikpela ren ol i karim!
Wanem hai wara ol i ken kamapim!
Taim ol i tingting long go bek
Long mama graun
                             (TOK PISIN)
                              Tr: Ruth Kamasungua


Flotando contra el vasto cielo azul
Las nubes soñadoramente flotan
Sin destino
Fluctúan sin rumbo
En todo tipo de tamaños
Y formas
Tan inofensivas como palomas
¡Quién sabe qué tormentas guardará!
¡Qué inundaciones puede causar!
Cuando decide regresar
A la madre tierra
                    (SPANISH ARGENTINA)
                     Tr: Irene Kawakami Gashu

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rewali re-defines the term "infrastructure"

Gegwa or kaikonukonu forms the basis of "infrastructure".
To get to Riwali, a village in the Rigo district, one has to take a three-mile long feeder road at a westward turn-off along the Hula road running further east.  A sheet iron fencing of a business house serves as a marker for the turn-off for those who may be new there. Then there is the job of unloading cargo to be carried up to the hilltop village since the big PMV trucks cannot make it up there in the wet. A slow upward climb towards the village, a good trudge through mud and mire for those who don’t own four-wheel drives and certainly not quite a pleasant evening walk if you are laden with gifts for relatives will, however, get you there eventually.
Storyboard's party.
 What struck storyboard about such a trip to Riwalirubu (full name of the village) last Saturday was this word “infrastructure” –  a term we use often but do not get round to sufficiently defining in order to thoroughly understand its workings. Certainly the word itself has its firmer foundations in military strategic planning and executions, and in our Papua New Guinean consciousness it suggests equal distribution and sharing of wealth, better implementations of educational and health programs, improvement of social or communal living conditions and so on. But it strikes us as fascinating that it becomes that word we find extremely difficult to pin down into proper focus for clearer “understanding”. Understand i stap (we get the idea) is what we say for most every other word but not, sadly enough, this one.
But at Riwalirubu that afternoon last Saturday storyboard managed to get the word pinned down to its proper focus.
Part of the want for a better understanding of the word came from the fact that those travelling to the hilltop village that Saturday to observe the guluma or lahi dairi of the late husband of one storyboard’s cousin sisters noticed the poor condition of the feeder road itself. The first thing that came to mind was: “Who is the member (MP) for this part of our country?” Names such as Dr. Puka Temu cropped up suddenly or vaguely, then there were the Genias, the Diros, oh, dear, until some young school girl from that area said, “Storyboard, you are wrong. The member for this region is so-and-so, not Dr. Puka Temu.” “Thanks,” said storyboard, humbly, “until this moment I hadn’t the faintest idea who the member was.”  One point became clear. No one at that gathering, either spontaneously or subconsciously, named an MP representing that area. A mention of such would at least give us some idea of where to start in our attempt to define the word “infrastructure.” Even the people of Gulf Province know who Charles Abel is and what electorate he represents, simply because the man probably knows what “infrastructure” means.
Who is our member (MP)?
All this, of course, prompted storyboard to look at the word “infrastructure” much more closely. A careful observation of that guluma feast at Riwali, which was in honour of the late Richard Kini and the simultaneous bringing out to public life from seclusion of the widows, one of whom was the cousin sister of storyboard, revealed to storyboard that all aspects of infrastructure revolve around the arrangement of family units that constitute the clan structure of a community or village and how that community or clan grouping as a whole responds to the gathering of food harvest, the display of this for public viewing and finally the distribution of such. Every clan, every family unit, must partake of that food on display. This then becomes our first glance at the word “infrastructure.”
Riwali itself has four main clans. Vetailubu, Golotauna, Gwalai and Burogolo. (Those who are not familiar with that region of the Rigo district may recall John Kolia’s book, A History of the Balawaia.) When this guluma feast was called for by the Vetailubu clan some two years previously all the other three clans were obliged to participate in the preparation of food harvest and rearing (in some cases money raising for the purchase) of pigs. A quick scan of the Vetailubu, Golotauna and Gwalai homestead locations from one end to the other revealed several fifty metre long bamboo poles on which were suspended besa (bunches of cooking bananas) forming the gegwa (or kaikonukonu), the base of the “infrastructure” of the whole feast. An equal number of coconut woven basketfuls of yam varieties were sighted, along with 12 or so pigs. All this denotes the amount of work put into the preparations for the feast.
Mr. Laka Koloa of Riwali explaining to an Anuki elder how the food will be distributed by the four clans.
Since this was a lahi dairi (guluma) such an amount of garden produce and the number of pigs would suffice. Invited guests participating at the feast included firstly the former working colleagues of the late Richard Kini from the National Capital District Commission, and secondly members of the extended families from town (through mixed or intercultural marriages) of each of these four clans. A superficial scan of the faces of the overall crowd present would deem the guluma a national type of gathering and not strictly limited to the four clans of Riwalirubu itself. Whether one was a Tolai, a Sepik, a Manusian, a Momase or Highlander, virtually every Papua New Guinean was present at this feast.
And now we come to our attempt at defining the word “infrastructure”. We understand the word through words such as gegwa (Balawaia) or kaikonukonu (Anuki). These words denote the amount of besa suspended on bamboo poles and placed in a manner that they surround a whole village, forming a suspended fence somewhat. The sight of such a structure denotes the strength of how much there is available by way of product and services for equitable distribution among the masses constituting a community, a society or a nation. The structure is also put up as a public display in the interest of what we regard as transparency. At all costs all that food must be distributed in a manner that every member of the community must benefit, man, woman and child. Not a single morsel of that food must go to waste or be misused.

At Riwalirubu that Saturday afternoon it took three hours to distribute all that food displayed, not just to those of the immediate locality but also to those who cooked and brought dishes with them from the city. And so that things should be that way. Our venture into defining the term “infrastructure” is now complete.