Leonard Fong Roka
When Bougainvilleans mingle with Papuans and New Guineans (redskins as we know them) freely they are killing their values, institutions and other patterns of behavior that is the pot of dignity; and that is, they become nobodies on their own land.
One of Africa’s writers, Francis M. Deng, in his 1997 article, Ethnicity: An African Predicament, summed this crisis as: ‘Ethnicity is more than the skin color or physical characteristics, more than language, song, and dance. It is the embodiment of values, institutions and patterns of behavior, a composite whole representing a people’s historical experience, aspirations, and world view. Deprive a people of their ethnicity, their culture, and you deprive them of their sense of direction and purpose’.
Colonization of Bougainville firstly by the Germans, the British, the Japanese, and the Australians and since 1975 by the Papua New Guineans (PNG inherited an annexed Bougainville under the Anglo-German Convention of 1899) had far reaching and detrimental impacts that turned Bougainvilleans into ‘a bunch of humanistic fools without roots to their land’.
For more than 30 thousand years Bougainvilleans had occupied their island and progressed as a holistic nation till Louis De Bougainville sighted and landed his ships on the 4 July 1768 in the northern tip of the island. This was the date Bougainville should note as the ‘date of destruction of the Bougainville’s natural ecology of life that stretched from Buka through Bougainville and the rest of the Solomon archipelago and sustained us and our islands since time immemorial’.
But colonization and the state of Papua New Guinea employed hitherto three methodologies to eradicate the nation of Bougainville out of the surface of the Pacific; and these are exploitation, indoctrination and finally, the end result of the two is genocide.
On the 1 August 1991, late Joseph Kabui, then an officer in forming Bougainville Interim Government (BIG), led a Bougainville delegation to the UN Committee on Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples forum in Geneva where Bougainville accused the PNGDF [and PNG] of causing atrocities [on a people that are not redskins but Solomon islanders].
Colonialism cared less about Bougainvilleans and their right to their island and exploited the island’s labor and resources at its will and purpose.
Colonization ‘exploited’ Bougainville’s land beginning with massive coconut and cocoa plantations in the 1800s for the economic benefit of the colonial masters and gave back nothing to Bougainvilleans. It operated gold mining since 1929 in Kupe and still gave back nothing to the people of the land.
With these changes Bougainvilleans, especially as the impact of the two world wars, slowly began to learn new things. This slowly drove fear into the heart of colonial politics that swiftly enforced ‘indoctrination’ to protect exploitation.
Indoctrination was injected by increase aid to education by government and church run schools across Bougainville. Bougainvilleans have to learn to respect the introduced authority and the rule of law from all angles, physical and spiritual. This narrowed the mindsets of Bougainvilleans to western concepts seeing their world views as detrimental.
So a Bougainvillean today sees the ways of his culture and land that sustain him for 30 thousand years as nonsense and sucks concepts that he knew nothing about causing disarray in his life and land.
All these leads to the problem of genocide of the Bougainvillean race, culture, values, religions and so on that all can be said of as the sources of dignity for the Solomon island people of Bougainville.
Genocide is swiftly engulfing Bougainville today! Marry a New Guinean and you know you are a betrayer and a murderer of Bougainville identity and dignity; break my necklace and you tell me: ‘I will fetch you are new one from the Solomon sellers in Arawa market’ and yet you know you cannot paddle a canoe from Lontis in Buka to Rabaul in PNG as you can from Olaba in Buin to Ovau in Choiseul Island; I called a Tolai a redskin and you say to me: ‘You are racist!’ and I could ask back: ‘Who told you that and why did he told you that? And how does that ideology sustains Bougainville identity and dignity that God gave us?’
Sick is Bougainville and Bougainvilleans! And to built a strong nation on Bougainville we have to reverse ‘no man is an island’ since a man must strengthen himself or his home first before engaging with others because he will be a failure in a weak foundation in a competitive world.