Papua New Guinean reggae artist, Anslom Nakikus, has paid an important tribute to Johnny Clegg, one of the of the most influential South African musicians of the apartheid era.
Speaking from Port Moresby, Anslom said he was saddened and shocked by the passing of the legendary anthropologist, campaigner and musician.
Anslom, who has been working out of South Africa with the band of the late South African reggae great, Lucky Dube, said was keen to have Clegg feature in one of his songs if it was at all possible.
“I am thinking of all the wonderful things he did for Africa and the world. Imagine a white person standing up against his own in an era of racial segregation.
“It is unfortunate for me that I didn’t get to meet him in person. They are my heroes. If I had the opportunity earlier and if they were still alive, I would have met all three of them – Nelson Mandela, Lucky Dube and Johnny Clegg,” Anslom said.
Tributes continue to flow from fans and musicians all over the world. Johnny Clegg died on July 16th in Johannesburg after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
For three decades, Clegg actively campaigned against South Africa’s apartheid policy also drawing attention to the unjust imprisonment of Nelson Mandela.
“He is an icon. He used music as a positive force to drive the country forward. Being in South Africa, betting to know more about the history and the culture, It is really sad for me.
“These are people who put down their lives for the country. At the end of my life, I hope I be remembered also as a person who put his life down for the country.”
I remember the first time I heard Johnny Clegg’s song ‘Asimbonaga.’
It was in Goroka. It was a cold afternoon. It played off a cassette. I thought Johnny Clegg was a black South African. His music was sweet to the ear. It was timeless… and even without understanding the language, it conveyed an intense feeling of sadness, longing and hope. It was and still is a song that speaks to the heart, soul and spirit.
As a child, the words and music brought the distant, almost mysterious land of Africa close to me. I saw the veld in my mind’s eye… the land of the Zulu and the Xhosa. I had never been there. But Johnny Clegg took me there.
I wanted to go to South Africa.
Johnny Clegg’s music stayed with me for decades never growing old.
Asimbonanga spoke of an a people’s longing for a better future. It spoke of a man they treasured.
Asimbonanga (we have not seen him)
Asimbonang’ umandela thina (we have not seen Mandela)
Laph’ekhona (in the place where he is)
Laph’ehleli khona (in the place where he is kept)
I learned of Nelson Mandela and others who were the embodiment of the African civil rights movement. I learned about apartheid and racial segregation. In Clegg’s Asimbonanga, I heard the name Steven Biko, the anti-apartheid campaigner killed in police custody.
Who was Johnny Clegg? Was he the black man on the cover of Savuka or the white man in brightly colored pants. I didn’t know. I didn’t care. The music was sweet and my mind drank it up and my spirit was blissfully intoxicated every time I listened to it.
Johnny Clegg, challenged the white South African Government by the bringing together white and black musicians. His music and lyrical poetry hammered on the foundations of the apartheid regime until it crumbled and the man he sang about became president of the new South Africa.
Johnny Clegg’s music rang true yesterday, today and in the future. It says stand up for what you believe in. If you don’t like the injustices, stand up and speak out through music and art because positive creative energy is powerful enough to topple governments.
All the way from Papua New Guinea, thank you South Africa for giving us Johnny Clegg, a master and leader in his own right. I hope I can live my life and true to my purpose and fully as you did, Sir!
The two week run of the play Meisoga ended last week in a smashing gala night performance at the Ullie Beier Theater at the University of Papua New Guinea. Each member of the of the cast put together brilliant performances complemented by sound and lighting that brought the whole play to a spectacular finish.
‘Meisoga’ is the story of Sine Kepu, a young girl thrust into a position of huge responsibility after the passing of the Meisoga clan matriarch, her older sister. Her carefree life is shattered and her clan’s expectations are heaped upon her young shoulders.
The play traces the journey of the Meisoga who are forced to leave Suau for Misima. Sine Kepu takes on the responsibility at a time when her clan is being tormented by rival clans.
Sine Kepu is forced into a world of pain and leadership. She has to rally her clan to fight enemies more powerful than her own Meisoga with the full knowledge that they will suffer losses. Sine Kepu is a reluctant leader bound by duty and circumstance.
Meisoga is the story of a matriarch who grieves bitterly in private over the loss of younger clansmen and commands enormous respect as time passes.
Sine Kepu loses her husband in battle. In grief, her son, Tubiaga, seeks to avenge his father’s death and trades his elder uncle’s life for power from a witchdoctor who practices dark magic. All this is done without is mother’s knowledge.
Tubiaga defeats the enemy clan and establishes the reign of the Meisoga. The means to the end draws the ire of his mother.
Later on in life, Sine Kepu, now the elderly matriarch, asks to go back to Eaus, to the beach where she first arrived with the Meisoga as a young woman. She is taken back by her son to Eaus, where the spirits of her husband, her sister and uncle come to welcome her to the afterlife.
Huge credits to writer and director, Andrew Kuliniasi and the cast.
Real estate companies don’t want to reduce their prices. It’s an ugly fact of life in Papua New Guinea.
If you ask real estate companies if there should be regulations, they will tell you something to the effect that it is a ‘self-regulating’ industry and that government should not interfere with that ‘self regulation.’
As long as there is demand, real estate companies have no problem keeping the prices high. The prices are out of reach for ordinary Papua New Guineans and still expensive for others who may be sharing rental costs with their partners or other family members.
In housing, you need economies of scale. That is where the National Housing Corporation (NHC) comes in. The government has the ability to acquire land and build houses and units that can be leased to Papua New Guineans starting out their careers in the public and private sector.
Housing rental rates have to be brought down. It is a basic necessity like food and water.
Crooks are allowed to profit from the housing sector through cheap purchases of badly managed government properties. The real estate market has been allowed to suck every toea possible from families as those living in run down government housing are forcefully evicted by the government agency established to provide affordable housing.
This system is not people friendly. This system does not serve the people. It serves corporate interests that puts our people at a disadvantage. It has done so for over 30 years.
It has to stop.
If you are going to evict families from rundown government housing, where do you put them? No strategy, you have. (Master Yoda voice)
The housing minister has to bring down rental prices. At present, who regulates the housing market? Who regulates the companies and pricing? It’s a glaring question that nobody wants to answer.
The banks and their part in the equation has to be examined. At one stage, interest rates were reduced and people were encouraged to buy houses. Many of those houses got repossessed later due to various reasons.
Finally, there is government acknowledgment of the corruption and disarray in the National Housing Corporation.
Since taking office, Housing Minister, Justin Tkatchenko, has exposed what the organization looks like from the inside. Its physical state is an absolute mess and a national embarrassment of the highest order.
The suggestion box should have been named: ‘Buai spet box’ and the NHC office should have been renamed: ‘Ofis blo kekemanmeri.’
The NHC has absolutely nothing to be proud of. Its officers have been a waste of taxpayers money. My taxes and your taxes went to pay a horde that ate from the corruption. Our taxes paid for their power and the hired vehicles paid to their cronies.
The NHC officers and management fed off the corruption and the illegal sales of properties. They are partly responsible for the deaths of elderly men and women who lost their homes soon after being evicted.
These heartless crooks continued their activities unabated for years until we began exposing their activities in Lae and Port Moresby. Some of their senior officers shamelessly offered money to their victims to move out of the homes that were being sold – some to foreigners.
The organization had and still has no asset registry. In short, they don’t know how many houses they actually own.
While the rest of the country moved into the 21st century, the National Housing Corporation remained in the 1960s with a severely deficient, outdated manual filing system desperately begging for a major IT overhaul.
Titles were stolen, reproduced and sold.
While property rentals and prices rose… and rose… and rose… over 30 years, the NHC remained oblivious to its mission to provide affordable housing to Papua New Guineans. This government agency is responsible for the high rentals and unaffordable cost of living because it could have done something but it didn’t.
The previous minsters who owned the problem had no political will to seize the bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground.
On Wednesday, some of the bodies of 18 women and children were buried by the roadside in Karida Number One village. They were the latest innocent victims of a 20-year tribal war driven by local warlords in the Tagali Local level government area. Karida Number One was not directly involved in the fighting that initially left seven people dead in neighboring Munima village.
But they were accused of harboring an in-law involved in the attack. And the women and children paid the price.
For the older generation of the Hela, the killing of women and children has broken the traditional protocols of tribal fighting.
“This, I have never seen this in my life. This is new,” Chief Hokoko Minape said in Tok Pisin. Chief Hokoko is a household name in the Tagali LLG.
Hokoko Minape has been councillor for as long as anyone can remember. Then, expressing himself poetically through his grief he said: “The women and the children are like my mothers. I died with them. They are close to my heart. I died of grief. I am already dead.”
Muks Maia, the local church pastor, lives on a nearby hill in Karida village. He ran to the site when he saw the fire from the burning houses. He was too late to do anything.
“When I got there, I saw the women and children. They had been cut up like animals. There were no men. The total number of those killed is 18.”
Beside the smoldering remains of a hut, one of the men said the women who died were the anchors in the community. Their lives firmly rooted in the village. They cared for the land and the animals, while the men traveled in between Tari, Port Moresby and Mt. Hagen. It has been difficult to mourn for them, with the people unable to settle into their normal lives.
The hut where the worst of the attacks happened, still stands. A whole family, including two pregnant women and their unborn children also died in the attack. On Wednesday, the Hela Provincial Government declared the Tagali Local Level government area a fighting zone.
The Police and the Defence force numbers are stretched with only 40 police personnel and one PNGDF platoon. The only thing giving them some sense of security are the army and police patrols that have been going into the village since the raid.
Like Chief Homoka Minape, police and provincial authorities say the killing of women and children is unprecedented.
Three months into office, the Provincial Police Commander, Chief Inspector Teddy Augwi, is facing his first major crisis. He says dialogue remains key in finding a solution and bringing the warring parties together.
Today (12/07/19), Police Minister, Bryan Kramer, and Hela Govenror, Phillip Undialu, went to Karida village. Kramer has called for the immediate surrender of the killers. He has also called on the leaders to not retaliate.
He says the government will be looking at long term solutions based upon his recommendations to cabinet.
PS. It was difficult seeing the huts where the women were killed. In case they become forgotten statistics, here are the names:
Our economic investment model as it relates to job creation is wrong. We have had it wrong for nearly half a century. We followed a colonial model of job creation where an enterprise is established, jobs are created and people get a paid job.
Many employers wonder why people don’t stay in a job for a long time especially if the factory or shop is near a village. Many foreigners are of the assumption that people living in villages want jobs. Maybe some do for status. But most get bored with the stressful routine.
In the case of the RD Tuna Cannery in Madang. The cheap labor comes from settlers who have to work for a living because they have to. How many locals are employed? Not as many as the settlers. Many have said they only go and work at the cannery if they need money to buy a fishing net, a boom box or a guitar. Then they go back to their villages after they get paid.
It’s still happening.
This is primarily because their basic needs of food, water and shelter are taken care of. They live on the land. They plant food. Many treat cannery work like a food garden that doesn’t need to be cared for.
Papua New Guineans are traders and entrepreneurs who live in an economic environment that doesn’t support their natural talents. The earliest contact that people on the Island of New Guinea had was with Malay traders. People along the Port Moresby coast traded with people in the Gulf Province.
The ‘Take Anda,’ the cultural center in Enga Province contains archaeological evidence of trade relations between the Engans, the Hela and the Western Highlanders. Shells from the coast are kept in the building. It is part of a puzzle of the multitude of cultures in Papua New Guinea that has not really been understood by this generation.
Yes, we are warriors. But we are also traders and entrepreneurs. This activity consumed a large part of daily life in the past.
The most important point here is that the family unit held the shares to that community enterprise. The family contributed and got its returns.
We still do it.
We do it during funerals, bride price payments and university fee payments. The business model does not really work unless a whole family is involved. The application of that formula continues to be applied in the highlands with success.
Papua New Guinea’s are ‘bad’ workers in restrictive 9am to 5pm environments. But when given the creative space and when given a purpose along with family support, small businesses can grow into big enterprises.
In Meteyufa, Eastern Highlands Aku Kulo a kaukau farmer, runs a kaukau export business. He ‘employs’ at least one member of every family not in the business. Everyone works on the land. Every family gets paid up to K1000 per week. If you want more money you work some more. The only restriction is the land boundaries.
Family businesses solve multiple social and economic challenges.
They can employ whole villages. Family business help pay for school fees, hospital and funeral expenses. These are the same requests that foreign bosses get and can’t understand why the employee comes to them for assistance.
In a family business, housing, food and transport is almost always provided. Individuals eat at the same household after work. The young boys sleep in the ‘big’ house. Married family members have their own homes. They benefit from the psychological support. Unemployment in the western sense is reduced to zero. People remain connected to their families.
Twenty-something-year-olds working with an uncle or older cousin in a business are allowed to go see their parents when they need a coffee plot picked. It’s understood, no questions are asked. They don’t get threatened with a pay cut
That is the kind of employment environment that Papua New Guineans thrive in. A young man or woman will leave paid employment to work in a family business for less pay because it offers that kind of support.
The Family Business should be a category recognized by the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA), the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) and the National Government. It should get special incentives like lower registrations fees and 20 year tax holidays so that families are able to send their children to universities.
The Papua New Guinea Government should be developing generations of entrepreneurs instead of encouraging investments that ‘gives us jobs.’