Disrespect for Karate dojo, buai spit on the walls irks senior student… and I support him!


I’ve written several blog posts about Karate and its importance for character building in Papua New Guinea. In my view it is vital that kids to take up karate because of the discipline and respect it teaches.

This post, however, is prompted by an important Facebook post by Cosmas Saliawali.

Yesterday, he found before their training session,  that the place where they train   (dojo) had paint on the training mat (tatami) and buai spit on the walls.

While this may seem like a small issue, it is very disrespectful to have someone spit buai where training is held. It also reflects badly on those who used the venue.

Cosmas said: “The Dojo is our house… the house of karatekas. We respect the place as we respect ourselves. This is where our sweat falls. This is where our blood falls. This is where the spirit of Karate lives. That is why we respect this place.”

Traditionally, a dojo was not just a training hall or a school. It was a place where the teacher (sensei) lived and taught his students.   It was a place you treated with the utmost respect.

The same rules apply today.

The dojo is a place you treat with respect. It is where the sensei teaches and where students come to learn.

While some may argue that those who used the hall were not karatekas, it should also be said that everyone should be treated with respect regardless of who you are.

Above all, the place where you live should be respected. The people around you should be respected. That extends outward to the  community, the country and the planet.

Shotokan Karate like many other styles teaches a code:






It’s something we all should learn from Karate. It’s not JUST a sport or a martial art – it is about life and respect.


Sincha Dimara honors West Papuan writer & ex-cop, Bernhard Marjen

Bernhard Marjen was born in Sorido, a village on the island of Biak on the West Papua side of the border in 1955.
His father was a radio broadcaster, they moved to Hollandia (Jayapura) in the 60s where he began his education with sister Nelly in the Dutch led administration.

It was at a time when West Papua was moving to self-determination. Tensions were high but the children they did not grasp the enormity of the activities taking place only curious as to why things had to be done a certain way such as not to display the flag in public.

Their father, Elias Marjen, the Radio Broadcaster and his cousin, Benedictus Sarwom, Information officer in the Dutch led government were in the thick of things, relaying important information and awareness on independence through the airwaves.

They both worked hard to keep the people’s hopes alive; freedom from the Dutch government against Indonesia’s push to gain control.
Sadly though it was not to be, closely monitored and their lives at risk they were told to leave with their families and what they had on them not a word of their departure uttered to anyone not even their parents, siblings, cousins etc.
On the 9th of March 1963 both men their wives and two children each boarded a ship bound for Madang in PNG. Out at sea and as the sun was setting , they realised they were on foreign seas heading to a new home, Elias Marjen looked out to sea and explained to his two young children, this is it, there is no going back. Faced with the situation before them, the siblings grew close and stayed close into adulthood.

From Madang they were flown to Port Moresby met by government officials including Maori Kiki later Sir Maori Kiki and driven to their new home at Hohola which was a growing surbub back then.

Being schooled in the Dutch led government, Ben and his sister spoke Dutch and Bahasa Malay however abruptly plucked out of their home, they had to learn to speak English.
Ben completed his education in PNG and Perth, Australia.
He married a beautiful lady, Shirley Baptist from Milne Bay in 1979 and both families hosted a wedding reception at the Islander Hotel now the Holiday Inn. One of Black Brothers most popular performance was at the wedding reception for Ben and Shirley this was before the band went into exile.

He worked with the then Office of Information and as a journalist with the Times of PNG and Editor of Niugini Nius later the National Newspaper. He also worked with some notable PNG Leaders, Sir Julius Chan, Paias Wingti, the late Sir William Skate, former Milne Bay Govenor Titus Philemon among them.
In 1984 he joined the police force, his passion for community policing earned him the title Chief Sergeant. His last post, Alotau where he resided.

He was a born leader to the Marjen family and the extended West Papuan community in PNG.

His parents have since passed on including his uncle, Benedictus Sarwom. Bernhard Daan Alfred Marjen felt the end of was near, after being ill for a while, he passed away in Alotau on Friday June 1st, aged 63. His wish to be cremated was granted.

Rest In Peace Brother.

ALERT: Fake bilums MADE IN CHINA stand to DESTROY our local industry

A few weeks ago, ‘Bilum Meri,’ Florence Jaukae, protested over the sale of machine woven fake bilums being sold in Goroka.

Over 20 years, Jaukae built an industry that revolved around the bilum and the women who weave it. Of course there are now many others who do the same now. But she was able to take the art form overseas against the odds.

She bought samples of the fakes and posted a complaint on Facebook calling for government intervention and protection of the art form.

I support that call.

This morning, we bought two samples from a shop in Lae City. Yes. The counterfeits are also being sold here for K19 each – less than half the price of an authentic bilum.

This trend will destroy the bilum industry if we don’t confront it. The Bilum is important for us as a country. It’s popularity has generated interest by international fashion designers who want a piece of Papua New Guinea.

The ‘Bilum’ has evolved into a brand in itself so much so that a French woman with no connection to Papua New Guinea decided to have the word ‘Bilum’ patented as her own. We’;; probably talk about that later.

The art is a revenue earner for women in Papua New Guinea. This is what pays school fees for their kids and puts food on the table. To have foreign owned businesses destroying that revenue stream and art form with no care for this

country’s traditional arts is absolutely infuriating!

How much protection do the women have? Will the ICCC or whatever relevant body take this fight on? Or will be allow this trend to continue until the bilum becomes one of the many counterfeits made in China?

Tronix… it’s a band that’s still in its infancy but I like the music!

“Tronix was formed at Don Bosco in Port Moresby when Richard Tamanabae was schooling.

We came together for the Battle of the bands. Now, the band consists of boys from the our street, Richard’s former classmates and I (Shayanne Waide).

It’s basically a family band. We entered the battles auditions practicing only with acoustic guitars n keyboards only but managed to get through.

Lead singer Richard. I play the guitar and also lead and back up vocals. Philip Mearu and Lorry Danny play keyboards. Both are upcoming key board prodigies. Leroy Danny plays bass and Josh Larewa on drums. Vali Johnny, Chris Santo, Chris Ankik and Stanley Ume are vocalists.

We went from 17th place then to 2nd.

We will be playing this song on the Paga Hill festival in September as a registered PNG band.”

Maj Gen Jerry Singirok(Ret): SOE is premature and reckless

The MAG 58 Model 60-20 as seen here is one of the most robust, deadliest and effective Machine Guns manufactured both in Belgium and USA. It is an air cooled, piston and gas operated machine gun that uses 7.62mm NATO belt fed round and can effectively engage targets from 200-800 meters and in open country up 1,000meters.
In 1996 after trials the PNGDF under my command bought them for the PNGDF to use. A few went missing in thePNGDF few years ago and I now see them on social media on cabin top trucks in SHP.
I am very concerned if not frightened that the government is sending policemen and women and soldiers to SHP to come face to face with the MAG 58.

The balance of combat power has shifted and a premature State of Emergency appears to be the cheapest, reckless and a knee jerk option by the government.
In 1989 Sir Rabbie reacted to a security situation similar to Mendi and took PNG on it’s knee for 10 yrs. A lost generation, depleted a solid Province with minerals and denied a generation of blessings.
Yet another irresponsible decision along similar path.
Lastly how can the government sustain the PNGDF on prolonged high level intense military operations if it has not invested in air mobility, can not buy uniforms, boots, field gears, ammunition rations fuel allowance etc…

How the art of Karate is challenging gender inequality without even mentioning the ‘G’ word

Clip #303
There’s a small affiliate  Shotokan Karate club at Four Mile in Lae.  
Since it started  two years ago, the membership has grown to close to a hundred.  They have students of various ages ranging from  6  to 25.

They don’t have much in terms of training equipment.  They train in a front yard on the bare earth.   Cameraman Raguel Kepas, sets the camera down in front of two kids as they  do a set of knuckle push ups unprompted.
“If they can do it, so can I..” its that kind of attitude that  draws  me to places like this where small community efforts  bless the soul and spirit.
Clip #315Many of the kids don’t have uniforms.  It is difficult to get good quality  karate uniforms in Lae.   A good set costs anything between K150 and K300…in Port Moresby.  It’s  too much for   kids whose parents struggle to  pay for school fees, bus fare and food.
But in the eyes of the  students, you can see the determination to  become  serious  representative karateka of  Morobe and PNG.  The determination  and  discipline can be seen in the eyes of the older  students who, drenched with sweat,  come back for another round to kick a  plastic wrapping tied to a coconut tree as a homemade kick pad.
Clip #284The  club was started by two senior students and first degree black belts  – Jacklyn Barney and Manu Mekere.   The Four Mile club is a branch of RAM Shotokan Karate Club run by Sensei Rickinson Mekere at the Lae Secondary School.
What also stands out  is the number of girls who have signed up.  Many of them inspired by Jacklyn who has represented Morobe and Papua New Guinea in international  karate events.
Clip #306There’s no male macho talk and no disrespect.   As an instructor  at the ‘front yard  dojo,’  Jacklyn is the authority. 
“Many of their parents are really happy that we’re training them,” she says.
It made me think about  all the hyped up talk about gender equality  and  balance.   Here’s a club that is taking the lead  in a very small but important way in a community where physical abuse  against women and girls is widespread.
Clip #312“One… two…” she yells demonstrates simulated kicks to the head. The target, is the much abused plastic wrapping on the coconut trunk.  She steps back and lets the students  follow her lead.
“Lavendar!  Guards up!” she yells as another girl ‘head kicks’ the coconut trunk.
While Jacklyn dreams of taking a team to a competition in future,  she says  this club serves a greater purpose.  Both her and Manu point out that karate has given an opportunity to many to break the cycle of alcohol  abuse and violence.
“My dream is to get as many young kids into karate. Because, if we leave it too late, they will start drinking and taking drugs by the time they’re 13 and 14.
“They have to see that there is a way out.  That they can go on to represent PNG and their province,” says Manu.
Clip #272When the numbers become to large during training  sessions,  Manu and Jacklyn split the group.   Manu’s mob are usually the pint sized aspiring karateka, aged six and upward.
“Sometimes we have to move to another yard.  There are so many of them!  Yesterday, we had several parents sign up as well.  I just didn’t have the forms for them to fill. I had to rush off to get them printed.”
Recently,  karate was declared an Olympic sport.  This now means Papua New Guineans  have a shot at the world stage if there is determination and support.

Portions of Paradise: How customary land is being taken over by foreign interests in Vanuatu

In 2010, I was fortunate to spend two weeks in Vanuatu’s main island of Efate.  There were serious concerns by various stakeholders over the land grabbing that was happening in Vanuatu.

The excerpt is taken from the documentary I produced with help from the Vanuatu Cultural Center.  This was uploaded when 4G was nonexistent in Papua New Guinea.

“When Vanuatu was granted Independence from the British and French in 1980, indigenous, Ni-Vanuatu landowners were of the view that the large portions of land taken by colonial powers would be handed back to them.

More than years on, much of the land still remains under British titles or “French Claims.” And now a new threat is emerging.

Australia’s aggressive foreign policies played out through an aid  supported land reform program is fueling a land grab by  real estate companies based in Vanuatu.  While reforms may be seen as a path to economic development, the Ni-Vanuatu are being robbed of their traditional rights to fish, hunt and live on what was once their ancestral land.

Critics of the land reform program point out that a there is an increasing undercurrent of dissatisfaction among the younger generation who no longer have access to the resources that their parents once had.”