It Won’t Be Long

By Liggie Yvonne Kare

An entry in the Cleland Award for Heritage Literature

PNG cultures were civilisations like others not documented
We are a history of people and principles already existing and striving
Creating ourselves and our rules over time
It won’t be long before we start all over again
Denying our own identity and trying to belong to another
This is now.

I have watched my grandfather cry when he shared stories of home
More than a decade, he has not gone back
I have listened to my parents – village kids – so ecstatically explain to me traditional medicine and food beliefs, traditional safu and ethics
Oh how wonderful!
What simplicity!
What innocence!
What abundance in paperless wisdom!
It just takes one to really evaluate and analyse from different point of views to better understand our traditions and why they were set
Some were metaphoric, others had literal meanings
It won’t be long before, one by one, this part of us will be eaten up by “good” change that is almost ignorant of the fundamentals of PNG people

It won’t be long before the only time we ever look back at our culture is on Independence Day
The pretence of hard-core national pride in the air
The abuse of traditional dance to please
The contemporary mix of attire
What are we teaching our children then?
My mother spoke of crushing shell and mixing it with charcoal to paint faces for song
She spoke of traditionally hand-dyed grass-skirts that had their own spirit and entwined with the monotonous serenade of the kundu
Modern alternatives took over
Why do we belittle traditional skill?
Traditional paint changed to color markers, the grass-skirts change to synthetic fiber; betelnuts around the neck hang on modern yarn
Why this change?
This is now.

It won’t be long before skills and knowledge passed on by our forefathers will lose its value
To the young man, “Stay away from married women; they will trap you. Make your garden, I have taught you. Build your house, I have taught you. Marry a good woman. Life for you has not started yet. “
To the young women, “Wait for a good man. You are his aide. Give him children. Give him support. You will be loved.”

It won’t be long before this entire generation will claim “It’s the 21st century and times are changing.” They retort to old moral values with the common “go bek lo peles bliu na mekim loap” remark.
All to defend their mergence with contemporary culture
With indifference toward their own
With misunderstanding toward their own
Sad

We have not realised that some principles that our ancestors lived upon were actually set for good.
But it offends you, young people!
“Married women, wear your clothes right. Do not cause another man to sin with his eyes and lust in his mind. Your body is sacred.”
“Provide for your family; do not let your wife go begging for food from your neighbours. Be a man.”
It won’t be long before all these teaching will just be a once-upon a time…
No wait… It is now.

It won’t be long before our own children will only be able to understand their language but not speak it
It won’t be long before this understanding gradually disappears
It won’t be long before we tell people that 2025 surveys report the death of 300 plus languages
These very surveys will claim that sacred sites, gardening and fishing grounds have been destroyed due to people’s personal interests in the resources our land had birthed
That our fathers and mothers died trying to live the struggling changes western life brought to us, not realising we already had our own way of living; we just needed to live it better
To its fullest;
In its own beauty;
In its pure logic;

This should have been

Long

By Liggie Yvonne Kare

PNG cultures were civilisations like others not documented

We are a history of people and principles already existing and striving

Creating ourselves and our rules over time

It won’t be long before we start all over again

Denying our own identity and trying to belong to another

This is now.

I have watched my grandfather cry when he shared stories of home

More than a decade, he has not gone back

I have listened to my parents – village kids – so ecstatically explain to me traditional medicine and food beliefs, traditional safu and ethics

Oh how wonderful!

What simplicity!

What innocence!

What abundance in paperless wisdom!

It just takes one to really evaluate and analyse from different point of views to better understand our traditions and why they were set

Some were metaphoric, others had literal meanings

It won’t be long before, one by one, this part of us will be eaten up by “good” change that is almost ignorant of the fundamentals of PNG people

It won’t be long before the only time we ever look back at our culture is on Independence Day

The pretence of hard-core national pride in the air

The abuse of traditional dance to please

The contemporary mix of attire

What are we teaching our children then?

My mother spoke of crushing shell and mixing it with charcoal to paint faces for song

She spoke of traditionally hand-dyed grass-skirts that had their own spirit and entwined with the monotonous serenade of the kundu

Modern alternatives took over

Why do we belittle traditional skill?

Traditional paint changed to color markers, the grass-skirts change to synthetic fiber; betelnuts around the neck hang on modern yarn

Why this change?

This is now.

It won’t be long before skills and knowledge passed on by our forefathers will lose its value

To the young man, “Stay away from married women; they will trap you. Make your garden, I have taught you. Build your house, I have taught you. Marry a good woman. Life for you has not started yet. “

To the young women, “Wait for a good man. You are his aide. Give him children. Give him support. You will be loved.”

It won’t be long before this entire generation will claim “It’s the 21st century and times are changing.” They retort to old moral values with the common “go bek lo peles bliu na mekim loap” remark.

All to defend their mergence with contemporary culture

With indifference toward their own

With misunderstanding toward their own

Sad

We have not realised that some principles that our ancestors lived upon were actually set for good.

But it offends you, young people!

“Married women, wear your clothes right. Do not cause another man to sin with his eyes and lust in his mind. Your body is sacred.”

“Provide for your family; do not let your wife go begging for food from your neighbours. Be a man.”

It won’t be long before all these teaching will just be a once-upon a time…

No wait… It is now.

It won’t be long before our own children will only be able to understand their language but not speak it

It won’t be long before this understanding gradually disappears

It won’t be long before we tell people that 2025 surveys report the death of 300 plus languages

These very surveys will claim that sacred sites, gardening and fishing grounds have been destroyed due to people’s personal interests in the resources our land had birthed

That our fathers and mothers died trying to live the struggling changes western life brought to us, not realising we already had our own way of living; we just needed to live it better

To its fullest;

In its own beauty;

In its pure logic;

This should have been

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