Thursday, 23 January 2014

Across The Pacific

Papua New Guinea is a small nation right across from Australia and on my last visit to Australia I took a flight  to Port Moresby, the largest town and the capital of Papua New Guinea.  There are a number of Australians who still have ties with this country, it is towards the northern tip of Australia and a large number of them relate to this small country, and would you believe it, that PNG is 6th fastest growing economy in the world.  Despite the growth rate projections, it remains a poor country, and strife torn country.

I spoke to Adam, a local resident of the Port Moresby, "You seemed troubled Adam."
And he did looked hastled, maybe it was the weather that day, or just had a bad day before he started from home.
"Its nothing more than a headache." he said before I could question him more.
Adam had agreed to be my guide for the 3 days I was going to be here, and we walked the pretty streets of Port Moresby, I looking more and more pleased with the Ela Beach Craft Market, it had everything a women could buy.  From local artifacts to junk jewellery to other handicraft items and cheap, my most expensive buy was under $10 and I was happy spending a few hours just browsing through this place.

Trouble had been brewing up, for sometime now, with heavily armed troops bracing for a civilian unrest.  Somare, the PM had undergone a heart surgery and was missing from office for a long time.  Somare was PNG first PM and was reeling under charges of corruption.  The contender was O'Neil, a popular leader who the parliament supported as well.  There was a confrontation between the government and the judiciary and it seemed unending.
Adam stroked his long hair, "We need to get a consensus working here, ever since we got independence from Australia in 1975, there has been no stability."
"Independence does not necessarily mean stability," I didn't want to sound condescending and so tried to stay away from the topic, but he wasn't going to let me.  Politics runs in every PNG citizens blood. 
"These guys don't know what we want from our country, these people who rule us," he looked urgently into my eyes.
"If I get my fish and rice at the end of the day, it makes me happy," he said, implying that was all the government had to do keep the folks happy.  "Who wouldn't give his vote to get food on the table every night.  These are basic securities that every citizen has a right to."

In my own country that gained independence in 1947, I had seen stability come only in the 80's and then some.  Forty years to gain stability sounded a queer figure, but the facts were there for everyone to see.  We had the largest grain reserves in the world, or atleast ranked amongst the top 3, though it was plain for anyone to see that the grain rotted because there were no warehouses to store the grain safely, in this country it was easier for the rat to eat grain for free but they wouldn't give the humans that grain even if it had to rot.  The similarities between the two nations were striking though PNG was just beginning to gain their sense of identity.  It was a fabulous trip and I enjoyed the politics of gain in PNG.


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