Practicing can be addictive | By Jeff

Jam JVPracticing can be addictive. A dangerous and self-perpetuating addiction.

I can quite easily remain on an exercise for 8 hours and not notice the time go by. I am not entirely sure if it is normal to stay so focused for so long on an exercise that consists of just 6 notes but I am guilty of it and I am sure other guitarists are just as guilty. What is more dangerous is the way the mind tends to close down to all other aspects of practice and for the mind to completely hone in on the exercise on hand.

The mind is a creature of habit and whatever is repeated often tends to become entrenched as an automatic response even if it just a mindless repetition of an exercise that (in all probability) is already embedded in muscle memory.

Obviously – this is an entirely inefficient way to practice and invites burnout and other rather unpleasant results of over practice like for example Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (which doctors said couldn’t be healed – except I defied their verdict as I couldn’t bear the thought of never playing again). So what’s the ideal way to approach practice? Well, as rudimentary as it sounds – the best way I know to avoid these issues is to have a practice schedule outlining no more than 15 minutes on any given area of study/practice. This is key – ORGANIZATION.

Another crucial area of practice is knowing when to take breaks and how to ease off on the focus. Too much practice is counter productive. You need to find a balance between focus and rest. This has been my greatest battle with music. There is also another related area to all this and that is to ‘forget’.

There is an old adage that goes something to the effect ‘remember to forget because we forget to remember’. This is an age old technique that is based on one principle: subconscious learning. In order for someone to truly learn a movement at a deep level – the learning has to be left to drop further down into the subconscious mind where it becomes a habit and thereby becomes effortless to play.

We do this by learning something completely new and return to the exercise after a period of about one to two months. After we return – then push past previous speed limits of that exercise. You will find that you will easily surpass prior speed limits.


The death of everything | By Gary Juffa

gjHave you ever lost someone so profoundly intimate that you cried yourself wretched for so long your heart ached and your entire being was so soaked with such misery that you felt you were losing yourself?

And did you ever feel like life was no longer worth living and you cared for nothing at all and there was this silent emptiness in your soul so heavy you could not breath or walk or talk?

I am sure many have been there. I certainly have. Too many times it seemed.

My earliest recollection of such a moment happened at the age of 5. It was when I lost everything. I have often said I was 7 or 8. But I was 5. I stretched my actual age because a part of me refused to believe that I had spent such a short time with Victor Juffa, my beloved Godfather, Grandfather, best friend and everything.

Well there I was, standing by the freshly dug grave and everyone around me weeping.

But I was silent. I stood holding the finger of my Grandmother, that morose and overcast Sunday morning in Kokoda Block 168, my home. A light drizzle caressed all in that epic scene of final farewell for Victor Juffa. Grandmother was of course inconsolable and weeping a river of grief.

I looked around me in awe. Wearing my favorite white sailor suit with blue trimming and sandals, my hair combed and parted as was the style for children born in the 70s. Everyone was weeping. But I was not. I could not. I had no idea what was happening.

No one seemed to know I was there. They were all very busy, crying.

I could not.

Not yet.

I blinked and blinked and felt a terrible sense of foreboding, a cold inexplicable fear. Like the fear you feel when you wake up from a horrible dream and are not sure if it was just a dream or real and do not know if there is anyone there in the dark.

Men and women all familiar faces, writhing in contorted grief, distraught in various poses of dark sorrow, some lying on the fresh red dirt kicking their legs like infants who did not get what they wanted, others squatting and holding their heads between their knees and weeping loudly, rocking back and forth.

There was my Uncle Vincent, watching stony faced his fierce eyes searing through me, his hawks nose defiant and tears streaming down his cheeks. His muscular body looked like it had been hit by a truck and was deflated. He swayed ever so lightly and held my Mother whose face was contorted in agony crying in that silent way that would lock in the sound until it erupted no longer contained, eyes closed tightly shut…I had never seen my Mother cry like this and it disturbed me. I looked away. At their feet my aunty Glen who was also my best friend was clenching fists of dirt and letting them fall and clenching the small piles again and sobbing. “Why?” she kept wailing.


There they were all covered in clay and mud and dirt.

The rain fell earnestly and heavy now. I moved closer to my Grandmother and she stood one hand holding mine and another on her chest…where her heart beat so loudly even I could hear it.
“Victor, num nam toto deka pamboi…nam deka mona…deka mona…nahau mo..ari em deka oeh?” My Grandmother asked in a hoarse voice, in a cry of anger and grief and outrage and immense sadness all packaged in that one sentence… “Victor, how could you leave me and go ahead… how can I remain now…myself…how can you be doing this..?”

I watched an elderly man I had never seen before act out a pantomime…he was walking off as if on a fishing trip and he would stop and turn around as if to wait for someone who followed…waving with his hand he called out excitedly “Ma useh era ro..o ingono, orike, otahe, seri te eyn eto mera ro, enjo hajo!” a child…beckoning his best friend…to their favorite fishing spot along the pristine river Eiwo so green… “We are so close…the fish are teeming …the ingono and orike and eels and prawns so huge..they wait for us…dear friend come quickly”…a farewell pantomime mimicking childhood moments of happy times…common expressions of farewell that best friends acted out of childhood adventures during funerals in Hunjara custom.

Earlier that week I woke up for the first time to find myself alone. There was not a sound and I suddenly felt very alone. I had no idea the loneliness I would feel later on in life but this was a preview for sure.

This was the day my Grandfather had been admitted to the Kokoda Hospital.

I always awoke at the crack of dawn with my Grandfather Private Number 100, Papuan Infantry Battalion Soldier Victor Jaya Juffa on Block Portion 168, a great man larger than life itself.

We had a routine.

He would prepare his shaving ritual and I would stand by to assist. I would hand him his shaving brush and razor and he would shave his strong jaw, dressed in his white singlet and shorts with suspenders. A leather strap used to keep his razor sharp hung off a small tree branch near the creek, on a cluster of boulders, tin bowl of warm water on a smooth boulder, a white fresh face towel folded and placed next to it, a large towel for me next to it on another boulder. He would be humming some country song. I would tentatively wet my toe humming along and eventually kneeling to wash my face. The cool underground spring would be bubbling along and a child and his Grandfather would start their morning with what were the happiest memories of my life.

Nearby at the kitchen, my Grandmother was surely cooking our breakfast. Dumplings, biscuits, Milo and tinned meat, my favorite, meanwhile Koropu would be prancing about near me and barking as I splashed about gradually gathering the courage to dive into the stream and bath myself.

After bathing, we would have our morning meal together. The meal done, my Grandfather would check me for any sores and dress them if there were any and there were always sores. He had a small first aid kit with everything needed to treat a curious overactive grandchild. As I was such an inquisitive child, I was always falling and getting scratched or bitten by some insect or scraping my knee or palms from some fall as I skipped and hummed munching some snack and following my Grandfather everywhere he went.


We were inseparable. But not always it seemed now.

I was his shadow. If I fell tired he would reach down and hoist me onto his broad shoulders and carryon doing whatever he was with me perched on his shoulders. Eventually I would fall asleep, my head on his head, my small arms wrapped around his head, my heavy, slowly shutting and finally asleep. He would carry me back to my cot next to his giant brass bed and carefully lay me down and tuck me in as he went back to work.

I had a babysitter named Kathy who was the most beautiful and strongest woman besides my mother and Grandmother I had ever known. She would take over and watch over me as she wove a bilum and hummed a song.

Always nearby would be my Grandmother, Kathleen Furi Juffa who was the always busy, gardening, cleaning, blium making, tapa cloth manufacturing, scone baking. She was a machine and life, ahh…life was heaven, life, was bliss in Kokoda Block Portion 168.

I was about to learn a most painful lesson in life. That good times…are always ever great because they are inevitably interrupted by moments of loss and sorrow…the inexplicable science of gain and loss…the balance…day and night…good and bad…night and day…highs and lows…joy and sorrow…

On this day, after what was an unbelievably long stretch of amazing happiness, I was to experience what would be my first pang of real pain.

It started with my Grandfather not being in his large brass bed beside me when I awoke.

I rushed outside rubbing my eyes and seeking out my best friend, Godfather and Grandfather Victor Juffa, affectionately called “Nombo” or “namesake”. I heard no response. I thought nothing of it and walked through the corridor of our crude but sound timber home he had built lovingly with his own two strong hands.

I walked down the wooden steps and sat on the last step and the early crisp Kokoda morning greeted my cheeks with its cool mist. Our chickens were already out and about and our red rooster crowed angrily as he intimidated the hens and young roosters to respect him. I watched him and smiled. He was such a character. So scrawny yet so cocky, my Grandmother said he looked like an uncle of hers she grew up with who picked fights with everyone in the village. Our rooster was like that. He picked fights with everyone.

I heard the pigs squealing in their pen, annoyed they were not let out yet to scavenge. I wondered where Grandmother was. She loved the pigs and always let them out to scavenge much to the irritation of Granddad who always admonished her that their complete disregard for anyone as they shit just about everywhere they went was something his sense of order completely disapproved off.

I am sure she ignored him just to irritate him. Grandmother could never be told what to do. Even if it was wrong, she would do it if she was told not to. You had to ask her in a roundabout way. Direct commands never worked with her. “I am not your soldier or cargo carrier!” She would glare at Grandfather if he forgot and ordered her to do something. She would deliberately do the exact opposite or simply ignore him. I was always amazed at her defiance and she would look at me and grin secretly when Grandad would walk off seething.

This morn, I looked around for Koropu Grandfathers favorite dog, a lean and swift wild hunting dog he had been given by a cousin of his who visited him for their monthly hunting trips. Koropu was always by our side as we went about doing whatever. It was always us three that formed a nucleus and then others such as my cousin Elijah or Cynthia or some other unfortunate orphan that Granddad had taken in for a while before they were relocated to another family to take care off. I called but he was nowhere to be seen. He was always waiting at the foot of the steps for Grandfather.

Except today, he was nowhere to be seen.

From where I sat, I looked around our modest homestead my hands tucked under my armpits for warmth and saw people moving about, many people. My Uncle Alex strode towards our kitchen and spoke in a harsh and serious tone to an Aunt of mine. A giant of a man with a thick moustache, Uncle Alex was a heavyset man with a bad temper who was my “Nombo” as well and a close beloved nephew of my Grandfather. He pointed to where I sat and my aunts eyes followed and looked at me and she nodded.

What was going on I wondered?

Alex walked off and my aunt beckoned me to come. I got up off the step and carefully walked down. The cold earth under my bare feet shooed away any sleep left in my tiny frame. I walked towards the kitchen and the already lit fireplace and squatted as close as I could to the fireplace without getting burnt and reach out to warm my hands over the fireplace.

The cast iron wood stove was already burning and there was pot on the heater already bubbling away. I could smell the aroma of dumplings cooking in coconut cream laced with canned mackerel.

My aunt deftly handed me a hot plate of dumplings and a cup of Milo. I ate silently and drank my Milo holding the cup between both hands. I scanned the homestead for Koropu but he was nowhere to be seen.

I continued my meal. Suddenly my jaw dropped and my eyeballs widened.

My Mother was here!

Suddenly! She was rushing with her suitcase through the cocoa trees and she rushed to the house and practically flung her suitcase into the hallway. I stood up still holding my cup of Milo wanting to run to her! I was never told she was coming! Normally it was a major event for me and I would trek to the Kokoda Airport to wait for her with my Grandmother! But here she was! And she didn’t even notice me! I was so torn up that she didn’t say anything to me and rushed off from where she had come! I was confused.

Apparently children are not supposed to know about death and departure and losing a loved one! How arrogant are adults! They imagine that only they feel pain and sorrow and loss. They totally forget that even children, in fact especially children are most hurt by such painful events. Adults always comfort each other and revel in each other’s grief and soak in each other’s emotions and loss and they cry and weep and express themselves and fully expel their emotions and unload their emotional burdens.

But how about the children?

Why are children never treated as if they matter, they have feelings too! They hurt and feel loss and are most scared at these times!

Instead they are most often bundled off to bed or a meal and hardly ever told what has happened. They are often confused and scared and needing a hug and reassurance and some love.

But that hardly ever happens.

So I stood there stunned watching all these strange happenings and comings and goings and anxious and angry faces, my Milo grew cold in the cup I clutched with both my shivering hands and I looked around to ask someone but there was no one there.

I walked to the stream to check. Maybe Nombo had started to shave without me. Maybe he was there humming his favorite song and I would see his broad back and all would be ok. But only an empty brook and bare stones greeted me.

I splashed water on my small face and wondered if anyone would call my name and ask me if I was okay but there was no one.

They had all rushed off to the hospital. Only my aunty was busying herself in the kitchen cleaning up. She seemed totally not there. I walked back and sat on the steps and waited. My hands between my knees and watching the road, hoping my grandfather would be walking through the cocoa trees, wanting to see him soon.

A wind blew strong and the leaves on my favorite cocoa tree rustled and seemed to be alive. I watched the tree shiver and shake and heard the wind whistling an eerie song. I put my head against the wall of the house next to the steps where I sat and eventually fell asleep.

When I woke up I was in his brass bed. No doubt my aunt had carried me there. It was raining softly and the rain on the tin roof was a gentle lullaby and I dozed off again holding my Grandfathers shirt that had the aroma of Old Spice his favorite cologne to my face.

I never saw my Grandfather again. Such is the cruelty and inconsideration of adults.

So often their feelings and grief overshadows their consideration for children.

I watched a coffin disappear into the earth. It rained hard and heavy. The weeping grew intense as earth was reluctantly placed on the coffin.

My cousin Gibson, my Grandfathers favorite nephew collapsed with the spade and wept bitterly refusing to throw any more earth on his beloved Uncles coffin. Someone else gently pried his fingers open and took the spade and continued, he too weeping.

I did not realize that Victor Juffa Private 100, husband to Kathleen Juffa and father to many children, his and those he took in, neighbor to his fellow soldiers and veterans and everything to me, was gone.
I realized that later at night.

That night, after midnight I was told, I awoke in a fit, the room dim from the yellow light of a hurricane lamp turned low, my Grandmother sitting near me, her feet straight out and her hands weaving a bilum, her eyes cried out.

I had heard something!

The distinct voice of Victor Juffa calling out to me. Softly as he did when I was still asleep and we were to prepare for the day “Nombo..” I rushed towards the door and my Grandmother was there…she held me tight… “ It is not him” she cried gently but I was inconsolable. Why wouldn’t they let me out to see him? I had not seen him for days, I was outraged and angry and bitter and kicked and punched and screamed but I could not overcome my grandmothers strong arms and she held me and she wept softly and it was then…that I realized Victor Juffa was gone forever…and I cried…for so long and so hard and sobbed and wept…and my dreams of a tomorrow by the stream with him in his white singlet, our towels placed folded carefully on the smooth boulders, him shaving and humming and me dipping my feet and then having our breakfast together…faded away to be just that…just a lonely child’s memory of his beloved Grandfather…his everything now gone…only God knows where..

The very next day. I walked to Victor Juffas burial site. I had packed my little suitcase. My Mother told me we would be going away for a while. In my suitcase I had put my Grandfathers favorite shirt and belt. Its all I had of him after the usual destruction of grieving relatives during funerals as was customary for the Hunjara.

Koropu was there at the grave site sitting next to it. He looked up and wagged his tail and smiled at me. I sat next to him and we sat there saying nothing and everything at once.

Leprosy and poverty, Rosa Koian’s thoughts about the return of a deadly disease

Sitting in the vehicle I could see her from a distance running half limping. After a few minutes I got out and moved to the front and waited for her.
As she approached she slowed down but continued towards me. I could see the excitement and understood her hopes. Then within two minutes just as she brought herself to us, she was just about to make a dash for her escape when I grabbed her and held her close to me.

Rebecca is a 15-year-old girl on the outskirts of Port Moresby who is spending her early years living in shame because of her condition. Growing up with leprosy she could see how she is losing her two feet and her right hand. Like all young girls she is worrying, a part of her is being deformed. She understands the many implications of this deformation and continues to live in shame.

Leprosy and poverty are like the left and right hands of the poor. One feeds off the other. In places where leprosy cases are high and stigma is an issue many recede to unbearable poverty levels. Where there is leprosy it is not hard to see disabilities but in leprosy you see these disabilities in the eyes, the hands and the feet.

If Papua New Guinea is listed as one of the poorest countries than it is not hard to find people living with leprosy in these statistics. In the eyes of the world as Papua New Guinea boasts modern infrastructure development, there is a group of people who will never have the opportunity to enjoy these services. They will never bring themselves to the centre because of their physical conditions. These people continue to live without proper nutrition, without water let alone clean water, and in crowded conditions – the factors leading to the re-emergence of leprosy.

In Papua New Guinea leprosy was successfully eliminated in 2000 however, in recent years it has re-emerged in Western Province, Gulf, Central, Sandaun Provinces and the National Capital District. World Health Organisation reports that at the end of the first quarter of 2017 356 new leprosy cases were recorded. Off this 140 are women and 89 children.

If not treated leprosy will cause disability in the hands, the feet and the eyes. The good thing for Papua New Guinea is that leprosy medicine is available in country and is free. However, not all people are aware of this disease and those who have been diagnosed often do not take their medicines. In many cases a K1 for a clinic book or a bus ride to the nearest health centre is a burden as that K1 is buying a meal for them. 

For Rebecca even though she wants to go to school she has not been able to for a number of reasons. In Port Moresby all schools demand school uniforms completed with shoes. It is asking a lot for orphans like Rebecca who must find the money to first feed herself and then to pay for her way to the Port Moresby General Hospital for checks. She has dutifully completed her treatment however the scar is there already and as she limps her way back to the river, she waves with ‘I hope you come back’. 

The Sustainable Development Goals lists ‘No Poverty’ as its number one priority and while a health approach has worked, the persisting leprosy presence in communities demand other approaches as well to help rid this disease and prevent disability. Better health, nutrition and sanitation practices are needed to help steer Papua New Guinea towards a healthier nation.

Steven Sukot: The Red, Black and Gold

sukotWhen I see the flag, red, black and gold dancing in the wind, I can’t hide my feelings and emotions, this is my identity.

MV PNG sailing through 42 years. Encountering rough and grueling economic conditions yet we are dancing in the storm to the rhythm of the confronting conditions.

Times are tough, funds are limited, taxes have gone up, adding extra burden on on the masses, yet the simple guy on the street is still smiling doing his routine. The villager seems to have no money, yet has enough for himself and enough to share.

Who are we, PNG?
Why do we mourn and dance at the same time? Why are the rich have little to share while the those classified as living below the poverty line in the jungles of Kaintiba, Koinambe, Josephstaal, Menyama, Karamui, Baining etc… have more than enough to feed themselves and share with those in need?

When it comes to money, only 10% of the population can find employment, 2% can make their own money and 15% or so in the towns do various activities to earn money to survive. However more than 75% of PNG are self reliant, they don’t earn an income, but they grow their own food from their land, they don’t need Eda Ranu or Water PNG, they drink from the fresh creeks, streams and Rivers. They don’t have the electricity, but are thankful for the stars and moon.

42 years on MV PNG, what is your secret?
I see something and it is painted in Red, Black and Gold…

RED reminds of blood. PNG we have very strong believe in families, relatives, wantoks, clans and tribes connected by blood. We are always willing to help and protect our blood.

Black reminds me of the rich fertile lands, customary owned, where over 75% is fending itself from.

GOLD reminds of two things.
1. Royalty….We are a country who believes in God. God protects and provides for this nation.

2. We are blessed with natural resources. Gold, copper, oil and gas, marine and forest resources.

Fly high my country, fly high my flag…I love my PNG. GOD bless my beautiful Papua New Guinea.

PNG journalist recounts a brutal knife attack that nearly killed him and a colleague

One year later after the attack, it has been quite a heck of a journey. 

Having had both fingers on my right hand  slashed by thugs at Vanapa along Hiritano highway, I was returning from an assignment after visiting two stations in rural Goilala with the MP for Goilala William Samb. We landed by helicopter further down the highway and proceeded on a Toyota Landcrusier for Port Moresby. In the vehicle was Hon. Samb, his DDA CEO Titus Girau and two other gentlemen including colleague Clifford Faiparik and I. The vehicle was hit, we almost had an accident with a sudden thud and then stop, The CEO Girau got out to inspect the damage and question the three boys of Goilala origin who were on the road where we had stopped. We followed down, unknowingly to be ambushed from the bushes nearby by roughly more than 20 to 30 boys against just the six of us. The driver was Mr Samb who was doing tactical driving trying to scare the boys while they continued attacking the vehicle and the rest of us with sticks, stones and knives. That was around 4pm in broad day light. I was holding onto my camera stand which I used to defend myself and fight my way out. In the process they slashed through two fingers, the immediate feeling, I thought my hand had been chopped off, I felt a rush of blood flow down my arms onto my shirt and jeans, the numbness hit, I looked down and to my amazement I could literally see the bones on my fingers as they were cut open with a machete. You’ll be surprised, instantly my first thought was I’m never gonna play the guitar again then I quickly snapped as I realized the attackers were on a rampage with weapons as the surrounded us. With my bloody right hand in a mess and two broken bones exposed, I gathered up my last strength and fought my way out with the camera stand on my left hand and fled for the vehicle. My colleague brother Clifford Faiparik was also surrounded and slashed on the back of his right arm. The CEO was also punched and kicked as we struggled on to the vehcile. The drive back was one of sheer pain and agony  I’d rather forget. With every pothole we hit or the rough patches of the highway came with a groan from another place. Still I held on as the boys tried to stop the bleeding with my arms tilted upright. My big brother and Goilala MP Samb never drove with such urgency until that moment. Cut to the chase, an hour or so later, Cliff was stitched at Paradise hospital and I was treated there to stop the bleeding and my hand covered with wool and bandages before been transfered to Pom General to be admitted for operation. Due to the lack of bed space at the Emergency, I had to be sent home and returnd the next day on  independence day which was a Friday to be admitted in preparations for the operation. Two days later on Sunday 18th September  2016, I was operated upon with  two k-wires inserted into both broken finger bones. Both wires were removed six weeks later and I had gone for physio therapy for months on end.
The trials, struggles, pains, recovery  and the successes. I’m here because of God’s amazing grace!!! I have so many people to thank over the past one year, but my parents who have been my loyal supporters since day one, I owe them my life, my sisters and brothers they know who they are, my family, my SOUP bloods, Covenant Creed family, kindreds, my colleagues at NBC, the industry, my apa pajire Oro Governor Gary Juffa thanks for visiting and to all you wonderful friends and family here on FB. Thank you for the past one year and being part of my journey and road to recovery. It’s not over yet as I will go in for a minor surgery to correct the tendons slightly but that’s straight forward and I’ll keep youse posted. I can still play the guitar now, not as fluently but it’s a start. Yaaay! 🙂
Just an appreciation post and a review of the accident and my road to mark one year today 15th September since that fateful day. I’m never the same person. I’m abit more cautious and careful now with life and I appreciate the little things more each day. Situations happen to us when we least expect but it becomes the catalyst for change in ones life. The human spirit has enormous potential to overcome anything life throws at us. If I can overcome, you can too as individuals and as a nation. As President Obama would say “Yes we can”. Thank you all graciously!!
I now have a story to tell every independence when this day comes around this event will remind me of how fragile life can be. The experiences either make us or break us. But indeed through it all, Yahweh remains the God of the hills and the valleys!
Happy 42nd independence my beloved Papua New Guinea!! 

‘She left,’ a short story of love and pain by Edwin Fidelis | Kanaka Elite Blog


Cathy sat on the barren mountainside, watching anxiously as the traffic on the road began to grow.

The sun began to slowly appear on  the horizon. This was perhaps her first morning without getting a response from Moses, the boy she met a few months back.

She occasionally checked her phone hoping to see a message or a call from him.

But it wasn’t the case at all. The last message she got from him was six hours ago.

The previous night, she visited him and made a promise to bail herself out from the 10-month-old friendship with Moses.

“ I’ve caused so much discomfort in your life so I will leave you alone”, she said.

The evil smile from her face answered his question beyond doubt, and he began to understand where she stood in the conflict.

“I am not forcing you to leave, but if you chose to go, that’s a path you chose and I will respect that”, Moses said.

Cathy held no remorse at first but then it dissipated into nothingness.

She held on every inch of hope that Moses would call her in case he changed his mind.

But hours grew into days and days grew into weeks, and she found herself in solitude of reflections.

In a stack of good old memories she kept in her photo gallery were all her dreams, she now knew she won’t achieve.

She knew she couldn’t call him, as it was her decision to leave, and convincing him to return wont make any difference.

It was perhaps the 100th time she promised to leave but kept coming back. But this time, it was real, and Moses was leaving.

The searing feeling of being  disowned gripped her inner soul.

She knew there was a world for her outside of what she knew but it means nothing without Moses in it.

Cathy accepted his parting as the purgatory for her mistakes, and to start over again with a new life without him.


Bassist, Richard Mogu, a journey of discipline, commitment & brilliance

richard mogu1Within music circles in Papua New Guinea and the region, Richard Mogu,   is considered to be among  the finest.

Despite having worked on various important projects that defined PNG music, over the years,   the multi-skilled musician from Mailu in the Central Province, keeps his personal and professional achievements much to himself.

In fact, not many people outside of his circles know about his achievements. This is

primarily due to his principles of discipline and hard work.

Richard is a craftsman in every sense of the word. He practices and hones his skills not for recognition or fame.

“I think the most important thing is to be yourself and not try to be someone else.

“You should never accept mediocrity. Never say ‘that is enough.’ You have to practice your craft even without praise or recognition…”

Richard Mogu was born in Iruna Aid Post in Abau District. From an early age, he was

surrounded by people who played music or were involved in some way with music.

His mother wrote choruses for their church and his uncles played guitars at village gatherings.

“My uncles used to travel to Milne Bay province and bring back Suau language songs and teach us. In any village, I guess, the first instrument you would come across would be the guitar.

“So I started playing the guitar and also learned playing the ukulele.”

At Passam National Nigh School in East Sepik, his first real performance as a bass player came when his fellow students were searching for one.   At the time his only experience was playing to bass patterns on a stereo using an acoustic guitar.

“I got called in for a one day rehearsal and I was sweating!”

By grade 12 at Passam, music teacher, the late Yawi Yambon who was instrumental in forming the band, Tumbuna, worked with Richard to develop him as a student.

“There were many music students and I think, he saw some talent in some of us.”

Then the time came to apply for university. While his accountant dad was adamant that

Richard apply for a course that would get him “a real job,” Richard chose his own path.

“I put down my choice to go to arts school, much to the shock of my parents. So My dad said, son, you’re on your own.”

For Richard, this was a challenge he took on.   Between 1992 and 1994, Richard and a few others formed the ‘Clansmen’ – a band that would later attract attention from music producer, Greg Seeto from Pacific Gold Studios.

“I was still in school and doing roadie work. We were backing up PGS musicians. I was already working.”

The thrill of working and earning an income triggered a set of decisions that taught him important life lessons.   Richard, abandoned full-time music studies and began working full time as a musician.

“The most important lesson I have learned is to have a good attitude. Because attitude is one of the basic building blocks.

“I flunked myself out of school. That was the wrong attitude. Then I used to get shouted at by the big boys because of that bad attitude.”

Richard says because he dropped out of school, he had to practice hard to gain the level of proficiency required to be successful.   That meant spending hours in the Pacific Gold Studios to get the practice time he wanted.

“The second important lesson is commitment to the craft. I used to leave the house on Wednesday and work over the weekend and wait for what they called the graveyard shift.

“Patti Doi was usually the last to leave. And he would leave at about 2am in the morning.   Then I’d practice my instrument until 6am.”

As a piano major in school, Richard took the piano principles and applied it to the bass. Then developed it further with technique and style. Today Richard Mogu is known for his slapping and two finger picking – a style that can be heard on his work in the gospel rock band, Dead in Christ other work.

While Richard has produced his own albums, he  has also worked with prominent artists including Anslom Nakikus, George Telek, the late John Wong, O-Shen and Pati Doi.

 “For many good musicians, people don’t realize that in order to be good, it requires a lot of playing time. You have to be disciplined in order to achieve your goals.

“Talent can make you famous. But good attitude is key. That includes turning up on time for practice.”

Over the years, Richard has worked with various musicians on both local and international projects that involve the use of indigenous Papua New Guinean instruments.

Former Sanguma great, Tony Subam, a traditional wind instrument specialist,   was influential in Richard’s leanings towards the Simbu bamboo flute, the Kuakumba. It is an instrument popularized by the Sanguma Band in the 1970s and 1980s and is distinctly Papua New Guinean.

“The Kuabumba is an instrument that can be made into a national instrument like the kundu and garamut.

“It doesn’t have many notes, but with creativity, you can make the Kuakumba sing and talk. It has a quality like a voice.”

Richard says the most important thing about the instrument is its spiritual side. It is a sacred instrument, that was kept hidden from public view. Living in Goroka, gave Richard a deeper appreciation of the humble Kuakumba.

Despite his successes, Richard Mogu remains a very humble and spiritual person.

“Music life hasn’t always been easy.   Some people play music for the wrong reasons. You have to do it because it brings you joy.

“For me, it’s the single mindedness and healthy relationships that have helped me walk away from the bad things.

“And the important things like a wife and kids…. When you go away, you have a wife and kids to go back to. It keeps you anchored and grounded.”