Feature Articles

Welcome to this week's feature stories. The stories are from various Papua New Guinean writers. The main highlight this week is the story on .....

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tima explores Amazon Bay's vast country


WILSON TIMA, aged in his mid 40s walked for days to the remote hinterland of Mirigeda in the Amazon Bay area of Central province and returned home infected.

His infection was not malarial or from any tropical diseases, it was cerebral. (Pictured above right - Enjoying fresh cool bath in a flooded jungle stream)

Tima was infected by the beautiful memories of a slice of paradise that just won't leave his mind.

Armed with a digital camera, this adventurous man from Kainantu in Eastern Highlands province, braved the waves of the Amazon Bay, the rugged terrains, fast flowing streams and the leech-infested river beds to walk into the territory of Nunuma and Balebo to enjoy the adventure as well as capture the magnificent scenery.

Many people would be wondering particularly what a Highlands person was doing in that far corner of the country which borders Central and Milne Bay provinces.

In fact, Tima and his family have been living at Moreguina or New Town as it is commonly referred to by locals from Abau for over a decade.  Moreover, Tima has become familiar with that part of eastern Papua as a sort of luxuriant backyard, a more tranquil, natural and beautiful place to visit when life in the teeming city of Port Moresby which is a couple of hundred kilometers is too hectic.

Tima has been a teacher for over ten years in that remote part of Central province. He taught at St Stevens Primary and Amau Community in the Cloudy Bay area then to Manabo and Magaubo community schools in the Amazon Bay area.

In fact, his two daughters have been born at Moreguina and the girls can speak the local Domara or Magi language of that part of Abau area fluently. (Pictured above - The start of the journey at Mirigeda beach.)

Prior to Tima' posting in Central province, he was assigned to remote schools in the Star Mountain area of North Fly in Western province. His first posting was at Golgobip primary school in the Star Mountains.
Tima, in an interview with this scribe pointed out that nowadays, most people in urban settings lead a hurried tense life. Therefore, visiting a remote place can enable them to feel released from such pressure.

"Being posted to remote schools since I took up teaching I seem to naturally fall in love being in rural places of the country,
"Just by living and working there you get to know the local people, make friends and enjoy their company,
"It is even cheaper because you are given a small portion of land to make gardens to supplement your family meals and sometimes go out with locals for hunting and fishing trips," Tima explained.

He said the nearby forests and its natural habitat and the cool flowing streams give a sense of pleasure, warm and peace brought about by the beauty of nature.

Wilson's journey began on December 18, 2009 when he left his family at Moreguina and boarded a house-boat spending K100 to travel to Mirigeda. He was accompanied by four other local men, who became his good friends because they shared betel nut, smoke, stories and even old newspapers to roll their tobacco while crossing the rugged terrains and the leafy canopies of the forest.

"Most of my friends are peace-loving and easy-going and I enjoy their company very much," Wilson said.
Tima's love of living in remote locations in the country just came naturally. Being a primary school teacher, education agencies he was employed with deployed him to some of the remotest community schools in the country. Sadly though, most of these schools lack proper infrastructure and teachers who are posted to these schools are often disadvantaged in basic services that their fellow colleague teachers in urban centers enjoy.
Eagelwood presence

Tima's trip to that section of Central province was for fun. However, he utilized that opportunity to  assist the local people sell and market their Eaglewood, also called agarwood, gaharu or aloeswood. The wood is known around the world for its highly valuable perfume and incense. Reportedly, PNG is one of the last remaining frontiers for natural areas of these trees.

Tima claimed many black-market buyers have been going into these areas of Cape Rodney and Amazon Bay looking for the wood. They even convinced the locals and go with them right into the bush to locate a tree suspected of having the resin harvested from the trees. Unfortunately, villagers are then paid only a small fraction of the real value of the wood while the black market buyers receive more.

He said he uses his own resources and finance to travel to the remote location and lives with friends he trusted.

It usually takes him three days to walk to the mountains where eaglewood is found.
Due to the remoteness of Nunuma and Balebo not many locals have travelled out to sell their Eaglewood to get an income. Moreover, the people have not been properly trained to manage eaglewood in a sustainable manner which in the long run would benefit their rural community thus improve their quality of live.

"Many people have gone into the area and have tricked the people that they will being the samples and later come back to inform them," Tima said.
"The poor people have no idea that even samples have monetary value," he added.

Nature's beauty
The forests of the Amazon Bay area, together with the mangroves on the coastal fringes are source of wellbeing for many of the indigenous communities. They provide life's essential such as food, water, medicine and free services like erosion control and protection from effects of climate change like rising sea level and temperature.

The people's heavy reliance on the environment due to the lack of basic infrastructure like roads to bring services into this remote corner of Central and Milne Bay provinces is putting pressure on new generation of leaders and technocrats.

Through his conversing with the locals, Tima found out that there were logging activities in the area previously. During the course of harvesting the trees from the forest, the exploiters mainly the Asians have left the people high and dry afterwards. Moreover, the local people had to fend for themselves in order to have access to basic services normally through their own expense.

Tima said the prices of trade store goods in that part of PNG are very high. A one kilogram packet of price is about K10. A kilogram of sugar is about K8 and a packet of Maggie noodles is about K1.50.
The feeder-road used to transporting timber down to the coast for shipment has been left unattended to and grasses are growing again on this once busy road used by loggers to bring their harvests to the shores to be shipped.

According to Tima, it is the cry of the local people to see either the Central Provincial Government or the local MP take aggressive steps to promote the distinctive natural resources to local and international tourists or conservation agencies.

In doing so the people will have some form of income and maybe create business activities to sustain and improve their quality of life.

Father's son a true blue cop

         The Yoresongo family (right)

Below the OIC directing traffic at the party   
Jim Yoresongo celebrates 30 years of his childhood dream


HIS FATHER was a respected tribal leader, mediator of conflicts, law man, peace advocator and his role model who inspired him at a very young age.

Meet  Jim Yoresongo, the current Officer In-Charge at  the Accident Research section of the Royal Papua New Constabulary Headquarter in Konedobu, National Capital District.

His is typical story of how young boys admire their heroes and try to emulate them; in this case, a son who wanted to be like his father, his hero.

Jim Yoresongo was born in June 1961 in his Yore village, Mendi in the Southern Highlands and spent all of his childhood in his contemporary native village until his educational opportunities took him places. For him, in fact, he had seen two worlds, the colonial era and the current modern times.

In the colonial days when life was said to have been traditional and hostile in nature, Yoresongo senior, was a ' luluai', a mandated title given by the then German Administration to a person who was a type of village ' councilor. ' His father on numerous occasions was called upon to mediate over land disputes, marital problems, court cases and advocate for peace and good order in the society. To the people, Yoresongo Senior was a very important person in the society because of the roles he performed.   Most of all it was the type of uniforms the luluais wore that caught everybody's attention and of course, young Jim was one of their secret admirers.

Everywhere he went to perform his luluai duties, he was always given pigs, shells and foodstuff as a token of appreciation for attending and solving problems. This kind of attention bestowed on Yoresongo Senior made the younger Yoresongo follow him everywhere and had only one aim in life and that was to be like his father.
Jim recalls a war between two neighbouring tribes that happened some time before he entered school.  Police and warders entered his village and arrested 10 tribesman and took them away to Madang for imprisonment of up to 10 years. 

During that time, Jim saw the police and warders in action, again boosting his desire to be like them and his father, the people who controlled law and order in his village, province and the country.

After running around his village with friends playing childhood games,  hunting birds, bandicoots, wild pigs and collecting fresh fruits in pristine rainforests  and the grassy plains of what was then known as the " last Papuan frontier ", today's Southern Highlands Province, Jim enrolled for Grade 1 in 1968. It was the first time he heard and learnt the white man's language and quickly developed the curiosity to learn of the outside world which was only imaginations for him. This was the turning point in young Jim's life because it signified the beginning of what was to be a long and colourful journey of Jim's life.

He completed Grade 6 in 1973 and went on to high school. In 1977, he graduated with a Grade 10 Certificate and had to decide on the available options for further studies. He was eager to join the correctional services, the police and military forces but unfortunately, there was no such applications available. There were job applications open only for teachers Colleges, technical colleges and nursing training. He to and was accepted at Lae Technical College. The Department of Education gave him an airline ticket and advised him to go by road to Mt Hagen and use the ticket to fly to Lae from there. It was to be his first time to leave his families, friends, tribesmen and beloved home to venture out to the open world to grasp what the new world had to offer to him.

He travelled to Mt Hagen and spent a night at the police station as advised by the people who gave him the ticket to Lae. It was his first time in Hagen city and did not know the place and did not even have relatives there. The next day, he picked up his bag and started to head for the Kagamuga airport about seven miles out of Hagen city. As he was up early that morning and happened to be the only one on the road carrying a bag, the police unit on patrol mistook him for a thief and stopped by to question him. He simply told the police his story that he had a ticket to go to Lae and he was on his way to the Kagamuga  airport. The patrol policemen shook their heads and told him it was a very long walk to the airport and instead offered him a lift
He was so thankful to the cops and again the thought of him being like them just kept streaming back into his mind.

Jim graduated in 1978 with a certificate in Catering and his first employment in 1979 was with the Bird of Paradise Hotel in Goroka.  But about five months into his first, there was a public notice out for fresh police recruitment of young men who were interested in joining the force. He did not give the opportunity a second thought because down in his heart, he knew that his childhood dreams were to become a reality. He was going to be like his father, wearing the lawman's uniform and solving disputes and maintaining law, peace and good order in the society. After a successful interview for police training, he never looked back because that was the start of the road to becoming like his father.

In November 1979, he entered Bomana Police College for six months training and passed out as a policeman . His first posting as a policeman was in the NCD's Hohola Police Station as a traffic officer and then due to the traffic office relocation to 4 mile, he moved there in 1982. After serving for two years in the city, he transferred to Mt Hagen in 1984. It was while working in Hagen, he met his wife, lifetime partner and mother of his children, Mrs Christine Yoresongo. In 1989 me was transferred to Lae with his your family. 

From Lae, he was transferred back to Port Moresby in 1992 as a traffic officer and then on to the police Headquarters in Konedobu the same year. He has been working in NCD since and has being promoted to be the Officer In-Charge( OIC ) of the Accident Research section of the Police Headquarters, Konedobu. 

Jim Yoresongo has now served the State of Papua New Guinea through the police force for 30 solid years and he is pleased with himself that he is finally where his childhood dream wanted him to be. Unfortunately, his father, role model and his greatest inspiration, Yoresongo senior, passed away after Jim passed out  from the Police College and has never seen his beloved son carry on his legacy.

In commemorating his 30 years in the Police Force, a big party was put up for him at the NCD Botanical Gardens in mid-January this year.  Family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and people who know him were invited to the party to celebrate.

Jim Yoresongo is still with the Police HQ and told the Sunday Chronicle that he still has the strength and vigour in him to give another 20 to 30 years to the country.  Jim is...pikinini tru bilong papa ya!!

Australia's own history of apartheid in PNG

Controversial Pacific academic DR RON CROCOMBE wrote this article for publication on Onlineopinion.com. It adds more fibre and passion to PNG Attitude's forum on the Australian legacy in PNG. Any feeling in Australia that only Papua New Guineans caused the problems they suffer from can only be based on ignorance.

MANY of Australia's colonial and post-colonial policies and practices are a major factor in the problems of Papua New Guinea today, and cause some Papua New Guinean leaders to have serious reservations about their Australian counterparts.

Despite being a colony from the 1890s, Australia ensured that Papua did not get its first high school until international pressure led to its opening in 1955. Very few others were built for a long time in a country of similar size and population to New Zealand .

Likewise for three generations nothing was done to develop Papua New Guinean leadership, in fact everything was done to block its development and ensure that leadership roles and responsibility were held by Australians and that there was no chance for the development of national consciousness or leadership.

I remember, in about 1964, being on a Qantas flight from Port Moresby to Brisbane seated across the aisle from a Papua New Guinean. It was the first time I had seen a Papua New Guinean on a flight to Australia. No one was seated next to him. The hostess gave everyone their meal except the Papua New Guinean.

I assumed it was a simple oversight so asked her if she could please get his lunch, to which she replied with scorn, "We don't feed natives." I objected but she explained, "It's company policy, we are not allowed to feed natives." I took it up with the company and they confirmed that it was indeed their policy - on the advice of the Australian officials who "understood them." That was consistent with their practices on many fronts.
About 1966 John Guise (later Sir John Guise, the first Governor General of Papua New Guinea ) was then an elected member of the Legislative Assembly with the largest majority of any member, and he was Member for Agriculture (a prototype Minister for Agriculture in the lead-up to independence).

He had been invited to study agriculture overseas with all costs paid and visited me to ask if I could help him in relation to the document he (and all Papua New Guineans) were required to fill in to seek approval to leave the country at any time for any purpose. It was an official form entitled "Application for Permission to Remove a Native." The content was as bad as the title.

Guise was offended and humiliated by it but was used to constant humiliation, of all Papua New Guineans, not only by officials personally but by the system as a matter of policy. I was then Director of the New Guinea Research Unit, a facility of the Australian National University (now the National Research Institute) and knew Guise personally.

I saw the Administrator, Mr David Hay, about it and told him I would take it up internationally if nothing was done: not only for Mr Guise but to do away with the document for everyone.

Mr Hay was genuinely embarrassed by the system he was required by Canberra to administer and assured me he wished to have that document done away with and would act on it. He did get an improvement, but restrictions remained tight for years after.

Chris Kaputin was to be deported because she was white and dared to marry a Papua New Guinean, John Kaputin, now Sir John Kaputin, who later became for many years Minister for Foreign Affairs. Only an appeal to the United Nations stopped the deportation. But it did not stop the personal harassment they both suffered.

Any government official who even dared to invite a Papua New Guinea woman to the cinema was whisked off to the most isolated part of the nation or deported back to Australia.

The Konedobu Club was the big club for civil servants at the government headquarters. When Julius Chan (now Sir Julius Chan, twice Prime Minister and a successful businessman and recently Chairman of the Pacific Plan) came back with a degree in commerce from Australia and was appointed to the civil service, he was banned from the Konedobu Club as no non-whites were allowed. He soon left the service.

When the East West Center and the University of Hawaii began inviting Pacific Islanders from all over the Pacific to study there, with funds provided by the US government for the purpose, students from all islands attended - except from Papua New Guinea .

The President of the East West Center told me personally that they wanted to include Papua New Guineans but had been requested by Australia not to do so. We then made unofficial arrangements to get the first two accepted despite the Australian blockage. For fear of international adverse publicity they were allowed to travel. It was a small breakthrough.

When the United Nations Trusteeship Mission issued a blistering critique of Australia for its constraints on education and training, among other things, (and that report was written by the Chairman of that Mission, Sir Hugh Foot, an Englishman and former British colonial governor), Australia could not get enough staff and had to advertise internationally, but it would only do so in White countries.

Every applicant had to send a photo so that, as was confirmed to be by an Australian official in the selection process, all non-White applicants could be weeded out without declaring their racist policy.

And all this time Papuans were Australian citizens and had been since 1906, since Britain required that. Australia had made them citizens without consultation, but would not allow them to enter the country of which they had been made citizens, nor enjoy any of the rights of citizens, nor any citizenship of their own.

When, in the 1960s, some Papuans who were part white Australian and part Papuan, asked to enter Australia , the country of which they were citizens, they were bluntly refused, as were all other Papua New Guineans.
My wife is a Cook Islander who had taught in New Zealand and Cook Islands schools and the Teachers College (and she taught at Port Moresby Teachers College). The first time she went to buy meat at the main Burns Philip shop in Port Moresby she was refused service. She came home in tears after being told that natives can only be served through the outside hatch.

She had been in many countries but never treated like that. She never went back, but it was a small part of the accepted code of the Australian system in Papua New Guinea.

One could recount similar examples by the hundred. These were not isolated or atypical events but were rigorously implemented systematic policies. There were many people of good will and good intentions in the government service there. But their best intentions had to be fitted within the policy and practice of full Apartheid.

Past misunderstandings can be overcome, and many on all sides are trying their best to do so. But any feeling in Australia that only Papua New Guineans caused the problems they suffer from can only be based on ignorance.

The genuine efforts that one sees from many people of all ethnicities and persuasions will pay off in the long run, but it will require deep rethinking of the total relationship (not only between governments) and long-term commitment to contributing to a positive and productive future.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Mt Lamington tragedy remembered


ON SUNDAY, January 21 1951 Mt Lamington erupted killing more than 3,500 Orokaivan people in 29 villages and 35 Europeans who were stationed at Martyrs' Memorial School, Sangara Anglican Mission Station and Higaturu Government Station.

The Orokaivans included policemen and medical orderlies who worked at Higaturu Station and prisoners who were serving their sentences at Higaturu Prison.  

(Right..Picture of the devastation...a jeep caught up in a tree)

Names of Europeans who lost their lives during the disaster are listed below:
1. Cecil Cowley, 48 District Commissioner
2. Erl Lewis Cowley, 16 son
3. Walter Richard Humphries, 60 Director of Native Affairs
4. Father Denis Taylor, Priest-in-Charge of Sangara Mission Station
5. Mrs. Hector Taylor
6. Taylor, child
7. Taylor, child
8. Taylor, child
9. James Ian James, Patrol Officer
10. Margaret de Bibra, Headmistress, Martyrs' Memorial School
11. James Gleeson, district Officer
12. Mrs. Gleeson, wife
13. Paul Martin, son
14. Dr. Pat Martin
15. Mrs. Olga Martin
16. Terence E. Maher-Kelly, 42, Agricultural Officer
17. Roy Arthur Graham, Agricultural Officer
18. Freda Joyce Graham, 50, mother
19. Maynard Lock, Principal, Commonwealth Rehabilitation & Training School
20. Mrs. Lilitia Lock, wife
21. Guy Margnerite Lock, son
22. Marion Jennifer Lock, daughter
23. Mrs. Elsie Kadock, wife
24. James Jameson Kadock, Works and Housing
25. Frederic William Cook, 29, Works and Housing
26. Mrs. T. Cook, wife
27. Athol James Earl, 26 Patrol Officer
28. Terence John Holihan, 25, Works and Housing
29. Arthur Joseph Williams, 32, Works and Housing
30. Ronald Alexandra Watkins, 30, Works and Housing
31. Thomas Arthur Greenwood, 47, Works and Housing
32. Kevin Victor Bradford, 21, Patrol Officer
33. Claude Devonish Stewart, Works and Housing
34. Robert James Myers, 32, Health Officer
35. Kevin Woiwood, 24, Works and Housing

(Below) Rebuilding at the site of destruction.  
Pictures from the Australian National Library archives 

The plaque built to the memory of those who lost their lives in the eruption, was unveiled by the Minister of State for Territories, Paul Hasluck in Popondetta on November 24 1952.

Death statistics of Mt Lamington eruption
 The eruption of Mt Lamington on Sunday morning of January 21 1951 was the greatest natural disaster to have occurred on Australian- administered Territory of Papua New Guinea. Rising out of the rich gardening land of the Northern District, Mt Lamington was scarcely thought of as a potentially dangerous volcano, but in the days immediately before the eruption, there was increasing rumbling, smoke and tremors. Both the Orokaivan people and the white community thought the activity was evidence that pressure was being releases gradually. On the morning of the eruption messengers carried notes in to be read in church assuring the village people that there was no need to worry.

Just after 10.30 am on Sunday morning of July 21 1951 a paroxysmal explosion released a cloud of intense heat and massive force. The sound of the blast carried over 80 miles and the dust fell on Port Moresby. Within an area of 60 square miles, there was almost complete devastation. The District headquarters of Higaturu, the Commonwealth Rehabilitation and Training School, Sangara Anglican Mission Station, Martyrs' Memorial School, Sombou Primary School, and 29 villages were swept by the lethal cloud. The death toll stood at 3, 738.

Breakdown of death statistics of Lamington eruption have been released for the first time since 1951 by a Papua New Guinean historian, Maclaren Jude Hiari who has been researching into the myth of Sumbiripa Kanekari. Mt Lamington has long had a central position in the Orokaivan world order which the people regard it as the centre of the cosmos. It is the place where in Orokaiva myth, death, war fare and fire originated. Most of the transforming deities who are said to have established the rituals and social customs of the Orokaiva came from the crater of the mountain.

The mountain is called Sumbiripa Kanekari, "the separation of Sumbiripa."  The mountain opened up and split into several facial features. Sumbiripa who was hunting on the mountain with his wife, Suja, got separated and found themselves on different features. Sumbiripa became the first man to die, thus becoming the master of the mountain.

The statistics of Mt. Lamington death toll are provided below:
* 3, 256 Orokaivan People in 29 villages
* 210 Schoolchildren from Martyrs' and Sombou Schools.
* 35 Europeans including Anglican missionaries.
* 90 Papuan policemen and their families.
* 75 Prisoners including 59 wartime troublemakers
* 15 Papuan Medical Orderlies
* 48 Papuan Laborers
* 11 Papuan Missionaries and their families

The jungles now hide the scars of Papua New Guinea's greatest peacetime tragedy...the 1951 Mt Lamington Eruption that killed more than 3, 500 Orokaivan people and 35 Europeans. It occurred 59 years ago.
But among the jungle roots and wet earth are thousands of death. On that disastrous Sunday morning of January 21 1951, Lamington virtually blasted Higaturu Government Station, Sangara Anglican Mission Station, Sombou Primary School, Martyrs' Memorial School and the Sangara Coffee Plantation off the face of the earth.

In the confusion and chaos of that day and the gruesome weeks of clearing up that followed, most of the bodies were given quick burials in mass graves. About 27 kilometers away at Popondetta, grieving families of the 35 Europeans killed, erected headstones in a special cemetery.

Now, the horror of Mt Lamington has been re-lived-because the local Orokaivan people going back into the area have stumbled across skeletons. Local people including Wellington Kogora and his children have located bodies in the ruins of the hospital, the prison and the police barracks at Higaturu and a Sangara Mission Station and Martyrs' Memorial school.

Last year the Director of the Kokoda-Buna Historical foundation, Maclaren Jude Hiari visited the former sites of Higaturu Government Station, the District Commissioner's Residence, Sangara Anglican mission Station, the station cemetery, Martyrs' Memorial School, Sombou School and the Commonwealth Rehabilitation and Training School. He located several bones of possibly an Orokaivan native on the grounds of Sangara Mission Station.

Mr. Hiari visited the former site of the large breadfruit tree at the edge of the station where the Australian Army unsuccessfully tried on two occasions to hand Papua New Guinea's leading war criminal, Embogi, but managed to do on the third attempt together with four men from Waju Village in the Kokoda District on July 5 1943. The breadfruit acted as the temporary gallows. He also visited the former site of proper gallows on the amphitheatre hill on at Higaturu government Station where the Australian Army hanged 79 Orokaivan men during 1943-1945. He also visited the graves of two woman missionaries, May Hayman and Mavis Parkinson and the Papuan teacher-evangelist, Lucian Tapiedi at the cemetery at former Sangara mission station which is forgotten and uncared for.

Mr. Hiari then stumbled into several wrecks of jeeps and concrete posts of a gate leading into the official government station and the wrecks of trucks, jeep, steel posts and bars and a heap of more than 80 bags of cement at the former Commonwealth rehabilitation and training school; which turned into rocks as a result of the disaster. At that time Cecil Cowley was the District Commissioner who was one of the 35 Europeans killed.

The Higaturu foothills beneath Mt lamington covered with bodies - there was nothing much they could do straight after the explosion. It was a shambles. Many of the bodies were not buried properly because the volcano area had been declared (straight after the eruption) a dangerous place in which to live. Village people had stayed out of the area for many years. Now, some Orokaivan people including Wellington Kogora and his children from the Paingoufu Clan have returned home to the former disaster zone and built their homes where they are living today.

Mr. Hiari's visit was to inspect the original sites of wartime hangings, the former government station, the former Anglican Mission station, the Martyrs' School, the cemetery and the former Commonwealth Rehabilitation and Training School in order to complete the writing of the manuscript on the Australian Army's hanging of Orokaivan men in Higaturu.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cervical cancer is caused by an STI virus


I WAKED into the Gusap Health centre outpatient department on September 10 2009. It was close to 10 am, the place was beginning to be filled with patients with specific health needs, complaints and infections.  I was the 11th on the line. Behind me were mothers with their kids in slings and bilums hanging from their necks.  We were about 100 of us in total waiting for our turn.

A young nursing officer, maybe  in her early twenties was serving us.  After a brief introduction, I asked her to see a sexually transmitted infections (STI) expert.  When I mentioned, STI, the young nurse got the shock of her life.  She uttered no words.  She fell to her knees giggled and vanished into the building.  I stood there astonished and belittled by her unprofessional response.  After a long 30 minutes wait, a male staff came to the scene, ushered me out of the reception area to the back of the building and tried to interrogate me.  He asked me what my problems were and wanted to help me out. 

I smiled at him and said; "I don't have any problem mate. My problem is your reaction to STI clients."
Actually, I was there for that very purpose.  I wanted to see and learn the immediate reactions and responses of service providers when someone (client) approaches them and wants to discuss and disclose his/her STI or HIV status for that matter.  I wasn't seeking any STI medication.  I wanted to find out how clients and patients were treated during their initial contact. 

This particular episode prompted me to share some common STI facts with all.  Sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a huge problem in the world and here in Papua New Guinea.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 1999 STI report, about 340 million new STI cases are reported annually. There are 31 different types of pathogens that use sex as their way of transmission.  Sexual activity is the way these pathogens get from person to person. These 31 include bacteria, virus, protozoa, and parasites. Sexual activity usually means very close contact involving intercourse, although some can be transmitted without sexual intercourse such as scabies and pubic lice which we can catch from sleeping in a bed where the sheets were not washed or changed which the previous person had these infections.  Children also can catch the scabies mite from playing with each other and close physical contact.

STIs are common.  HIV is actually one type of STI. 

According to WHO in their 1999 report, an estimated 340 million new STI cases are recorded each year all over the world. These are only cases on the major known STIs including syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomonasis.  The figure does not include herpes or warts or HIV.  STI mostly affect young people (15 to 30 years) due to the reality that many young people experiment sex with several partners.  STIs often have no signs or symptoms. Symptoms and signs often go unrecognized.
Someone may have more than one STI at the same time. It involves more than one person. Re-infection is common, if sex partners are not treated at the same time. People with STI are just the same as everyone else - in fact they are everyone else as well as you and me.
Service providers' oversight can be detrimental to the lives of many of our mothers in this country.  One particular STI that is becoming very common and is affecting a lot of our mothers and sisters is the human papilloma virus (HPV).  This particular virus causes the genital warts and cervical cancer killing 1 out of 10 pregnant mothers in Papua New Guinea.
Breast and cervical cancers are the most common cancers reported by our national cancer unit in Lae recently.  It is an indication that these two forms of cancers are affecting our female partners and if nothing is done, most of our mothers will succumb to these preventable and avoidable viruses.
As preached and proclaimed all over, prevention is better than cure, I wish to illustrate here how the cervical cancer can be prevented at the first instance.  As I've mentioned above, HPV is an STIs and all are transmitted only through sexual intercourse.  A poor mother should have not contract the cancer if she had not have sex.  Women, mostly child-bearing mothers are falling victim to this cancerous virus and we need to find ways in order to stop unnecessary death.  Maybe in order to do that, we need to know the relationship between HPV and cervical cancer.

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is an STI. There are many HPV viruses but not all can cause cancer.  About 80 per cent of us (male) have this virus.  HPV virus comes in varying forms and categories.  It is activate from our system during our first sexual encounter.  Some cause genital warts and are low-risk and some can lead to cervical cancer and are high-risk.  There is no known cure for HPV in the medical world.

Then what is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control.  The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina.  Cervical cancer can often be cured when it is found early. It is a usually found at a very early stage through a Paps test.

What causes cervical cancer then?
Most cervical cancer is caused by a virus called HPV.  HPV is contracted by having sexual contact with someone who has it.  There are many types of HPV viruses.  Not all of HPV causes cervical cancer.  Some of them cause genital warts but other types may not cause any symptoms at all.  A woman can have HPV for years and not know it.  It stays in the body and can lead to cervical cancer years after the body was infected.  That is why it is very important for you to have regular Pap tests.  A Pap test can find changes in cervical cells before they turn into cancer.  If you treat these cell changes, you may prevent cervical cancer.

Common symptoms
Abnormal cervical cell changes rarely cause symptoms.  But you may have symptoms if those cells changes grow into cervical cancers.  Symptoms of cervical cancer may include;
- Bleeding from the vagina that is not normal or a change in the menstrual cycle that one can't explain.
- Bleeding when something comes into contact with the cervix, such as during sex or when you put in a diaphragm.
- Pain during sex.
- Vaginal discharge that is tinged with blood.

As part of your regular pelvic examinations, you should have a Pap test.  During the test, the doctor scrapes a small sample of cells from the surface of the cervix to look for cell changes.  If a Pap test shows abnormal cell changes, your doctor may do other tests to look for precancerous or cancer cells on your cervix.  The doctor may also do a Pap test and take a sample of tissue (biopsy) if you have symptoms of cervical cancer such as bleeding after sex.

Treatment options
Cervical cancer that is caught early can usually be cured.  If the cancer is caught very early, you still may be able to have children after treatment.  The treatment for most stages of cervical cancer can and makes you unable to have children.  These treatments include;
- A hysterectomy and removal of pelvic  lymph nodes with or without removing both ovaries and fallopian tubes - (surgical removal of the uterus)
- Radiation therapy (use of high dose x-ray to remove cells)
- Chemotherapy (use of medication to destroy cancer cells)

Yes!  Every sexual active woman must have regular Pap test.  It is the best way to find cervical cell changes that can lead to cervical cancer.  The virus that causes cervical cancer is spread through sexual contact or intercourse.  The best way to avoid getting an STI is to not have sex.  If you do have sex, practice safer sex, such as using condoms and limiting the number of sex partners you have.
There we are.  Husbands and wives need to sit down together and discuss their sexual health needs. Do see doctors and health professionals now. 

Those in the Jiwaka area and Western Highlands can go to Tininga clinic or Kudjip Nazarene Hospital near Banz.  There are facilities also in Gusap at the Ramu Valley, Laiagam and Porgera Hospital, Moro Clinic, Kikori hospital in Gulf, Siroga Clinic in Popondetta and all other major provincial hospitals.
Pass on the message; tell every woman and girl to go for the Pap test.  There is no harm going and seeing a doctor which is far better than to suffer from cervical cancer and die.  If a service provider reacted like my sister in Gusap, don't give up.

Writer's e-mail: wgabana@yahoo.com.

William the Sniper gives up his bad ways


NEW Year is a time when people make resolutions to quit their bad habits and live better and God-fearing lives.

Some live up to their promises while others do not and fall back to their old ways again, though they make solemn oaths in front of family members, pastors and local leaders.

One such person is William Piam, a notorious criminal in the trouble-torn area of Nebilyer sub district, outside of Mt Hagen city.

Mr Piam, commonly known as 'Sniper' in the area, is the leader behind the planning of hold up, rapes, and looting along the highway between Nebilyer and Mendi, thus painting a bad image for the whole of Nebilyer valley.

Since he left school some 16 year ago, he had no option left and thus opted to live a life that involved terrorizing innocent travelers along the highway, looting cargoes and raping innocent girls and women. Last week he called it quits and turned to God and the local communities for forgiveness.

In a exclusive interview with Sunday Chronicle this week, this most feared young man said he is really sorry for what he has done and begs his local communities, leaders and God for forgiveness.

He also extends his apologizes to those who have been victims of his bad deeds and seeks their forgiveness and begs them to forget what has happened to them.

A remorseful Mr. Piam added that his past years were like he has been living in a prison camp with no freedom of movement and time to spend with his family.

He also regrets that as a young man in the village, he has miss other opportunities of venturing into micro businesses like others, adding that it was not too late to start now that he wanted to look forward to the bright future ahead and never to look back.

This now also sends a message of peace for commuters along the Nebilyer and Mendi portion of the national highway who travel with fear in case of intimidation by criminals both day and night when reaching that particular section of the highway.

Village leader and local councilor Paias Pekep heaped praise on Mr Paim for making the right decision for his future in the New Year.

A proud Mr Pekep said crime and tribal fighting have tarnished the good image of once peaceful Nebilyer valley, adding that now is the time to bring back the glory days and his decision was the start of good things to come in the years ahead.

The former president of Nebilyer Local Level Government Council said since the on going tribal fights between the two warring tribes, Kuglas and Ulga/Ukupas have subsided some years ago, the only existing activity in the area was road blocks, looting and rape by the criminals.

And he said with the surrender of ring leaders like Mr Piam, other cohorts will follow suit, paving for peace and harmony for the trouble torn valley.

It is also understood that a bigger ceremony including the official surrendering of all criminals with their guns, will be organized at a latter date, with officials from police, government authorities and others to witnessed and seal the occasion.

In the meantime, Mr. Piam is calling upon the general public and commuters to contact him on mobile 71794737 and report on any incidents along the Nebilyer and Mendi section of the highway so that together they can assist to identify and bring to justice those still around.  He added that the highway will be a safe road to travel after the new year and onwards.

Cultural mapping commences in Gulf


FOR the first time in history, the Papua New Guinea National Cultural Commission (NCC) is conducting a pilot Cultural Mapping Project (CMP) throughout the country.

The main objective in carrying out this cultural mapping project is to preserve, protect and promote both the traditional and contemporary arts and cultures of the people of PNG.

The pilot testing of the CMP was done in Tauri- Lakekamu Local Level Government in the Kerema District of the Gulf Province with the official launch on Friday, November 28, 2009 at Malalaua Station.
Prior to the launching and the initial research and collecting of data being carried out, awareness and publicity was conducted in advance making sure information is spread through them.

After the launch, the six teams of field researchers were recruited, trained and dispatched to the project area.
Those six teams consisting of 18 potential researchers then proceeded to their respective destinations in order to begin their data collection of tangible and intangible cultural elements as presented below in the subsequent sections.

The pilot testing of the cultural mapping project anticipates forming the basis of the inventory work on CMP for the entire country.

A preliminary research survey conducted by the National Cultural Commission officials in the Mailovera area in the Kerema District from 24th to 26th of January 2008 established dialogue with the local community on the understanding that Mailovera area would be the project area used for pilot testing of the CMP.
A preliminary report on the survey resulted in further consultations between elders of the communities and NCC.

These consultations were important in which identification of appropriate levels of protocols and channels of communication is necessary to ensure the local communities of the pilot project area are informed of the intention of cultural mapping project.

The project did not eventuate as originally intended at Mailovera. However, the NCC opted to include all the 9 wards in the Tauri - Lakekamu LLG, Kerema District in the Gulf Province. These include, Titikaini, Heatore, Heavala, Putei, Titikaini, Okavai and Kakoro. 
Wanton/ Ieva and Kakiva wards were left out due to the terrain and rugged mountain, cannot be accessed by either dingy or on foot.
A total of 18 potential researchers made of six teams both within the NCC and outsiders who have been engaged on part-time employment were deployed to the area to carry out research work for the durations of two weeks.  

After the completion of the research, they returned to Port Moresby with their information and data for the actual documentation to be recorded.   
The CMP should not have been done, fortunately it all began in the 1970s when our founding father Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare first visited Canberra and expressed his wish to preserve and develop the cultural heritage of our people.

It was evident that our former colonial masters were sympathetic towards such wishes but it also depended very much on who was leading the ruling party in Australia.
We can now acknowledge the good will of Australia as our former colonial administrator and an extra ordinary bond established between Honourable Gough Whitlam, who was then, Australian Prime Minister in 1973 and our founding father Sir Michael Somare, who was then our Chief Minister at the time.
In his visit to Australia, Sir Michael expressed his feeling for our nation's history and way of life and his Australian counter - part responded positively.

Again, in 1973 at the University of Papua New Guinea graduation ceremony; the Australian Prime Minister officially expressed his sympathy as well as his intention to fund the cultural development program for the graduating Papuans and New Guineans would soon be the leaders for the independent nation in not too far future.

He promised to make available Australian five million dollars which was to fund the construction of National Museum, establishment of National Arts School and Institute of PNG Studies.
These were the most needed infrastructural development which paved the way for the call for the overseas cultural institutions such as museums to repatriate our tangible cultural objects of cultural and historical significance.

This process was openly welcomed and supported by UPNG academics in the fields of Anthropology and Archaeology.  
We are now very privileged to venture into and taking part in that process of cultural development which began even before the birth of our nationhood.

Hence, the pilot testing is aimed at achieving the overall objective of the cultural mapping project and that is to identify record and document all the traditional cultural heritage of the people of Papua New Guinea. The outcome of the pilot testing should form the basis of inventory work for the full implementation of the national cultural mapping project throughout the country.

Having said this, the traditional and contemporary arts and cultures of the people of Papua New Guinea are prominent enough to be recognised at the top of the hierarchy of laws.

In this sense, the NCC is established with the responsibility to preserve, protect, develop and promote the traditional arts and cultures of the people of Papua New Guinea.

It functions through its three Institutions; the Institute of PNG Studies, the National Performing Arts Troupe and the National Film Institute in implementing work activities and programs to fulfil its mandate.

Gritty Max's tale of Ihu rice

"It had been a long road to his dream of growing and milling his own rice, but this strong-minded Gulf  will do anything - even to the extent of breaking the law - to get what he wanted"


FARMING RICE in the Gulf Province is a rarity.  The best and big PNG rice stories are from Mekeo in Central Province and Morobe's Markham Valley.

So growing rice in Ihu district of Gulf Province was started with a young man's determination to trial something new and succeed at it.  That man's determination has no paid dividends many times over. 

Max Evare started rice farming in 2003. He started off simply with a ice block cup full of rice seedlings that was given to him by his cousin on a visit to Uaripi village near the great Tairuma river, one of the many rivers in the Gulf Province. The rice seedlings were distributed to them by a non-government organization.  His cousin gave some seeds to plant at his Karokaro village. 

Max took the seed home to Karokaro wrapped in plastic bag, as he recalls. That evening he sat with his family under a lantern light and showed the seeds to his wife.
He explained what the seedlings were all about to his wife and children and that they would plant the rice and see if can grow.

He recalls, "Though I didn't have any knowledge of how to plant rice my family and I decided to give it a go."
That night before going to bed they sat and prayed over the rice seeds. The next day the family killed a live chicken to give thanks to God and for work to commence on the clearing of land and planting of seedlings.
After a day of clearing and burning the next whole day was spent on planting. Without any know how of rice planting, the family went ahead planting rice like corn in the gardens and watered it daily.

Strangely, according to Mr Evare,  after three days young shoots from the ice grains sprouted out. The shoots confused Max and through curiosity he had to prove the shoots to see if they were real rice shoots or  just another weed.

He dipped his finger into the soil digging out a shoot. Clearing the soil that covered the roots, and to his   his surpprise he saw a rice seedling attached to the shoot.  That was a joyous moment of his life;  he went home and  led his family to see what he had discovered.

A youth from the village saw the joy in Max and volunteered to assist him and the three worked on the project.  Unfortunately, the young man the late Kueva Hava died in 2008.
After three months from the very first harvest they bagged 100kg (2x 50kg).  The family, as usual gave thanks for the harvest. The first taste of their home grown rice brought joy to the family. Villagers came wanting to buy from him.

There was no need to advertise as Max's old father Max Evare Orila, who was indeed very proud of his son and family's achievement, went out on a campaign.  People came from all corners and even those from  the other side of the rive paddled across the great Vailala River to buy rice at the cost of K3 a kilo.
Milling became a burden as he did not how to pound rice but a Filipino working with at Rimbunan Hijau logging camp invited him to see how he (Roger was his name) did his rice. 

Max's  eagerness pushed him further, and through trial and error he now pounds his rice perfectly.
The Evare family then proceeded to clearing additional plots of land to plant more rice. Youths and children out of interest gave a hand killing grasshoppers and any other insects that would harm the rice plants.
He knocked on doors of government offices in Kerema but hardly any assistance was given.  Then in 2006 Kikori  Open Member Mark Maipakai was on an electoral visit to Karokaro village.

Max cooked a pot of his home grown rice, decorated it with rice seedlings and presented it to Mr Maipakai.  Nothing could stop the Honourble Member from having to eat the rice without any protein or additions. He ate pure rice.  It tasted good and through the satisfaction of eating his electorates' home grown rice  and from a young man his family who have had not a single knowledge of farming rice, Mr Maipakai promised Max a rice milling machine and a starting capital of K5000.

Max received the rice grinding machine but the promised K5000. 00 is yet to be given.
The rice grinding machine, however, became the subject of a dispute between the Member's Dsitrict  Coordinator and some other person. The machine was taken off him and was locked away and he never used it.

He said, "The dispute wasn't between me and him but because someone in my family did it this affected me also and the project came to halt in 2007.
"Every time I walk past the item I exchanged for a pot of rice, the thought still saddens me as because the machine is rusting away under the house."

Max came to Port Moresby in 2007 and spent nearly a year struggling to get the promised K5000 from Mr  Maipakai. His efforts were not successful;  his family was left in the village and he was also stranded in the city.

He met up with a Fillipino who was willing to assist him not financially but with his technical expertise in the field of rice farming. He told Max to take him home to Karokaro for him to do soil tests make a feasibility study.

This gave Max a leverage but funding became a problem for him still . Nobody wanted to help.
He  put his head down to work; he knew very well the risk he was taking. He could be imprisoned for up to three months if he was caught but who and what else can help?

He worked through October 2008 raising about K600 just through selling of home brewed alcohol. He had a purpose and he achieved another of his objectives. He raised enough to take Larry (Filipino) home to Karokaro and back to Port Moresby.

On the 28 October the feasibility study was completed. Max came into Port Moresby with Larry, a good number of proposals were posted to different organisations for funding but were all unsuccessful.
Max never gave up. He kept on pursuing his need to get himself a rice grinding machine and four months ago the Gulf Investment Trust Fund purchased a rice grinding machine. Even though he got what he wanted he still needed money for land and sea freight.  Gulf Economic Development Authority assisted him with K3000 on the 23 November 2009.

Max wasted no time.  On November 24, he  had a meeting and feast. On November 25 land was cleared at Karokaro, November 26 at  Lui, November 27 r at Horna and November 28 at Poiva. The land marked out was about 20- 24 hectres.

As usual there was hardly any assistance form field officers in Kerema town.
Max was fortunate again three weeks ago to receive another donation - a water pump for his group Vailala Intergrated Developent  Association from one Papuavape Association, one of the oldest in the Ihu District and the whole of the Gulf province.

The Papuavape Association will assist his group again with 100kg of TCS-10B rice seedlings.
Max is now planning for the launch of the project this year back in Ihu in May 2010. He will be inviting the Deputy Prime Minister, Governor of the Province and the two Open Members with the chiefs of the villages and certain diplomats in the country to the launch.

Max is man with a big heart. People cannot eat dinghies and 40 horse power outboard motors. Man cannot drink oil or gas; rice they can and do.  Well done, Max!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bride-price Tauruba style


THE FESTIVE season of Christmas and New Year was joyous  and fun-filled for many villages around the country.  Tauruba villagers in Rigo district of Central province was no exception.

The villagers celebrated in style when they partied from dusk till dawn and even throughout the day with dancing as well as a religious crusade Just before Christmas the village witnessed a rather remarkable bride price ceremony which saw the groom and his family pay the bride's people over K72,000 in cash and goods. The cash component was notably the highest in for the Balawaia language speaking people of Rigo as well as the inland Rigo people. It was paid by the Gutuma family to the Gerega family as form of a traditional obligation. (Pictured above: Rubutau Mega and family prepare their digu to present to the bride's family as food exchange.)

Bride price ceremonies are now becoming popular during that time of the year, especially around November and December for many Rigo villagers such as Tauruba.

Sunday Chronicle paid a visit to Tauruba village in the Rigo district of the Central province to witness a colorful ceremony which eventuated at middle of this rocky mountain villageAccording to Rubu Tau Mega, this custom has been practised for over centuries.

An interesting thing to note was that even first cousins were separated during this traditonal ceremony; some were on the side to present and others on the end to receive. This is merely because those who are from the fathers side had to stick by their fathers lineage and are bound to any obligation required of them.Rubutau Mega and his family had to prepare a  traditional digu or heap of food and other goods  to give to a first cousin of his, who happens to be from the mother's side of the bride. (Pictured is a Tauruba lad pins on the Kina notes as part of the cash payment during the bride price ceremony.)

Mega said the time for bride price payment is when the recipient side are happy and rejoicing because they are receiving cash as well as other items, which the groom's family members had to struggle to find.
He clarified that in Rigo it was usually the groom who must contribute the largest portion of the payment with other assistance coming from his brothers and other extended family members.Amounts given by the family members are later reciprocated but an additionally percentage is added on top when the particular person who has helped gets his turn to pay a bride price.

AGWI, the commander of men

MEET Brigadier General Francis Agwi. At age 54, he is Papua New Guinea's newest Commander of the Defence Force who now joins the annals of PNG's military history as this country's 9th head of the military.
Married with four children, Brig Gen Agwi hails from the middle-Sepik river village of Korogu, East Sepik province.

Soft spoken and of short stature, Agwi generates great patience, knowledge and understanding of his art. For any one encountering him for the first time, he gives one the obvious - he is courageous, confident and amass with a lot of stamina.

Reflecting on his career in the PNGDF since 1974, Agwi says the road to the top most rung of the military hierarchy has not been easy. In his words, "it has been daunting and painstaking, though slow in coming. Nevertheless, I have now the job that carries with it a challenge that is enormous".
"My challenge really is to rehabilitate and resuscitate a force that flat on its feet," says Agwi.

As the nations chief Defense and Security officer, the new commander inherits a defense and security detail and therefore a military environment that is appallingly falling apart having been brought virtually on its knees by oft confusing politico-military decisions and policy options trialed over the years in efforts to resuscitate and revive the Force.

These have led to the extent that PNGs premier security detail normally traditionally structured for warfare as characterized by its constitutional role and responsibility has sadly, been reduced of its military psyche.
Agwi is adamant that with the support of government this time around, a critical whole-of-government approach is required to guarantee people, resources and businesses operating in the country optimal protection and security.

He is fully cognizant of the fact that with an ever increasing population of six million plus people, the military-population ratio grossly uneven. It reads at one soldier providing cover for 3,000 people. According to him, this must change for the better if PNG is to cater for its growing population and opening up and doing big businesses with external stakeholders.

In the face of a military force that has virtually been allowed to erode and marginalized of its constitutional character and morality, it will now be left to Agwi's military acumen, the support by government and officers and the rank and file to salvage this national pride institution if PNG was to remain legitimate as a state providing insurance for its people and business.

"Yes, there are watersheds in our recent military history. But we now have the job of working together to raise the standard, to step up to the challenges that are reshaping our military environment. Adaptation is vital if we are to remain legitimate," says Agwi.

"Together with population growth, big business are here together with their own security infrastructure, private security companies both externally based and domestic are employing men and women guards and security providers in numbers greater that the total number of men and women in the PNGDF.
"Strategic resources such as oil has been flowing for the last 17 years or so, gas is being developed for export in a few years time. Nickel/Cobalt is being exported in tones.

"Human security issues such as global warming and sea-level rise is threatening us. Our tuna resources are similarly being threatened. Poaching of our fishery resources is on-going without detection and apprehension.
"Islam as a fundamentalist religion is permeating the Pacific whilst sit with awe witnessing the on-going guns-for-drug syndicates running amok.

"Some of the world's super powers are here doing business with us. We must deal with them through the reshaping of our military environment. Through a system of military diplomacy, PNG must be allowed to determine her own geo-strategic space within the region and in the world.

"PNG must now be in a position to decide how she intends to determine her own fate militarily if indeed there is seriousness in what we do," Brig. Gen Agwi says.
It seems, Agwi has the determination to inflict change. He needs now the whole of government and society's support to realize this change.

For those of us who'd want to know what makes this man of 'iron', someone that will deliver a Defence Force that we could be proud of, the following credential would certainly augur well in resting our anxieties and apprehensions.

The commander grew up and was educated at Maprik and Brandi High Schools both in the East Sepik province where he completed secondary education. Brig. Gen. Agwi was enlisted into the PNGDF in 1974, following high school and a year before PNG gained political independence from Australia. He was among a crop of young enthusiastic men drawn from throughout the country and conscripted to undergo six months of joint military, police and correctional services training at the then designated Joint Services Staff College (JSSC) at Igam Barracks, Lae, Morobe province.

Political thinking at that time was to have these men trained in all facets of military, policing and correctional services leadership and academic know-how from one institution so that these could become leaders and servicemen of their respective state security agencies that could take charge of both internal and security threats, including rehabilitation of law-breakers.
Agwi chose, following training at the JSSC, to traverse the path of becoming an officer of the PNG Defence Force.

As PNG was adjusting from severance of ties with Canberra, Agwi graduated as a military officer on 26th June, 1976, and posted as Platoon Commander at the First Battalion of the Royal Pacific Island Regiment 1st Battalion (1RPIR) in Taurama Barracks, outside of here where he performed all regimental duties and responsibilities.

In 1980, he was posted to the Goldie River Training Depot also outside of here as an Instructor and three years later in 1983, he became the first JSSC-educated officer to be posted as Senior Instructor at the Officer-cadet Training Wing in Lae's Igam Barracks. Many of the current army officers at Lieutenant Colonels and senior Majors rank, including former Deputy Prime Minister Mao Zeming came under his military tutelage and conditioning.

In 1985, following his success at Igam, Brig. Gen. Agwi was posted as Officer Commanding Delta Company at the Wewak-based Second Battalion of the RPIR (2RPIR) at Moem Barracks, East Sepik province where he also became the Operations Officer of the same unit.

Military headquarter posting as Staff Officer Grade two awaited him following his outstanding tour of duty on the Northern frontier. Murray Barracks made him SO2 within the Land Operations Directorate at the time PNG was experiencing upheavals on Bougainville as a result of secessionist threats where Agwi comprised a team that undertook the first reconnaissance prior to landing of troops on Bougainville.

In 1990, Brig. Gen. Agwi undertook  a year of advance military studies at the Royal Australian Air Force Staff College, Canberra, Australia. On return in 1991, he was sent to Bougainville for operational duties on Bougainville. He was back at military headquarters in 1995 as Staff Officer Grade 2 assigned again with the Land Operation second time around.

He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and took up posting as Director Training at headquarters, later as Commending Officer/ Chief Instructor of the Goldie River Training Depot. He later returned to headquarters as Director of Military Intelligence.

In 2002, his immediate predecessor, Commodore Peter Ilau appointed him close aide prior to sending him to attend a one year Defence Strategic Studies (CDSS) at the Western Creek staff college in Canberra, Australia. Following successful completion of the course, Agwi was promoted to Colonel and took up the job of Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), the job he held until his current appointment as commander of the PNGDF.

Brig. Gen Agwi is without doubt, a decorated military officer of high caliber, having throughout his outstanding and meritorious career spanning 37 years, schooled himself through many short courses and seminars on military art, management and strategic studies in some of the world's best military schools in the United States, China, Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

'My hope rested on the virtues of humility, patience and perseverance because I knew that these do pay off in the end if one is game to follow that path. 'These virtues have proven right for me now following years of loyal and dedicated service to the Papua New Guinea Defence Force,' Brig. Gen. Agwi says. He added that it had even been harder amidst a competitive environment when, rightly so, even eager younger and intelligent officer men were determined to grab the top job and to stamp their own mark in making a difference in the way military operates in this country.

One or two of his men who had one time or another been subjected to his command had themselves become Commanders, he said. These are now factual episodes in my life but now I have this opportunity to demonstrate to the Government and the people of Papua New Guinea that I can do it too. Most importantly, it is my humblest of duty and service to return their confidence through my appointment by way of administering and realigning the army that in its functions and responsibilities that would guarantee and offset threat scenarios both internal and external that poses insecurity both of the government, the people and the rich endowment of PNG's natural resources.

Prior to his appointment, Agwi was the team leader in producing the much talked about International Obligation Bill now before Parliament aimed at placement of PNG soldiers in United Nations Peace Keeping duties in trouble spots around the world.

Brig. Gen. Agwi is dead set to ensure the country's Constitutional and premier security detail is given pride of place in the statecraft of the independent state as it seeks out its constitutional roles and responsibilities in the face of changes within the region and sub-regional security environments, including realignment with the PNG vision 2050 through the Forces own 2030 vision.

The challenge is enormous, the task mammoth, Agwi says. 'I believe I have the will to do it, the stamina to pursue strategic objectives and the support of the government who appointed me to bring the house to order'.

He reminices the good military administration system established by the Australians and one that PNG inherited at Independence. 'It was a system based on the strategic warfare concepts of 'command', 'leadership', and 'control' - CLM. These are the basic tenet of military administration or any administration that are structured for war. "It seems that in PNGDF, we have over the years far deviated from strictly adhering to these basic concepts of soldier administration within the officer corp. As a result we have lost or lacked CLM of the rank and file.