Leonard Fong Roka
It is a post Bougainville Crisis scene across south Bougainville that the male population seem to be welded to a bush knife or a grass knife where ever he seem to be.
|An assembly at Kanauro Primary School|
From the ordinary village settings, the educational classrooms, the traditional feasting nights, other social gatherings and so on the Nagovisi man, the Siwai man or the Buin man is always armed with an offensive weapon—a dangerously sharpened worn out or brand new knife.
With such a culture south Bougainville has the record high of death and injury caused by the application of a knife. Alongside their knives of all categories—imported or home re-designed—guns step in where knives fail.
Such a culture is worst in south Bougainville and a week at Kanauro Primary School, in the Baubake Constituency of Buin District, spells out the residues of what should be an irritating anti-social behaviour in this part of Bougainville.
The question Bougainville needs to ask is: who are we arming ourselves with such offensive weapons against? The New Guineans and Papuans that troubled us from the slums around our pre-Bougainville Crisis urban centres are no longer prevalent; the Papua New Guinea Defence Force is not around shelling us; the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) or the Bougainville Resistant Force (BRF) should be myths by now with civility conquering our world, but why a knife in my hand or gun in my car and home?
I travel home regularly to Buin from Buka or vice versa and aboard there would be a rifle or two. Often I wonder why we had a Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001 but still from leaders down to villagers we still have these weapons around.
Every morning at Kanauro Primary School I watch our future leaders, the students coming to school with knives, and feel insane; I often ask myself ‘what is my new home Buin up to by enculturating its future with a knife culture?’
The 10-year Bougainville Crisis taught me that a person with any form of weapon is a secured one and with authoritative strength gained from the confidence of having a weapon. It is such characters that caused havoc during the Bougainville Crisis and thousands of our people had to be sacrificed.
At Kanauro Village and Kanauro Primary School the highlighted concerns are deeply rooted and observable.
About a hundred meters away from the staff houses 8 in every 10 persons that march up or down the main Buin-Siwai highway at Kanauro has a knife; and the ratio is also the same for the students that come to school.
Exploring the classrooms, at least, all has knife wounds and high degree of vandalism. Students and community hardly respect teachers and school property over time.
There is random stealing of lunch and property by the senior students from the lower graders and villagers stealing from staff members and this hurts the whole harmonious coexistence for better learning or peer education or public relations.
All round the year, according to the teaching staff here, they have preached change oriented positive information to the kids at assemblies and classrooms. They have allocated for religious figures to talk to the school every morning on Fridays.
But as the leaders talks students grumble behind at the elders as some of the corrupted personalities and worth not listening to.
Such irresponsible behaviour to the few old folks was unknown for this school since its creation in 1981 till 1990 but this is a post Bougainville Crisis development.
But Bougainville should know that the crisis had no physical existence but it is us the people that need to ask ourselves what our responsibility and contribution is and should be to building a new and free Bougainville.
At Kanauro, there is a lesson worth learning, and that is Bougainvilleans are yet to learn that our island is changing and must change. Society is stubborn to see and accept change happening in our midst. From the public offices in Buka right down to villages like Kanauro Bougainvilleans are locked in a past that is not productive in this age of openness and adaptation.
In Buka Bougainville has public servants that still see and treat ABG as a provincial government and thus evoke no sweeping changes and progress for Bougainville; and in Kanauro, we have people that are reluctant to bring about change and development upon themselves through their available resources like cocoa i.e. simple things like building permanent houses for families, solar electrification for their homes.
At Buka ABG spends on consultants, advisors and so on to induce change onto a public service body that sees the ABG as not an independent government when it is; and down at Kanauro, people spend their hard earned cash from cocoa on alcohol and howl their days boozing whilst spending their nights in bamboo walled and sago leaf thatched homes and kids roam around in worn out or odd-looking stitched clothing.
Thus who will bring change when the elderly with experience of time are the ones leading the boozing gangs or the public servant is a reluctant one to change?
The answer lies on Bougainvilleans learning why our island and people have struggled against political and economic colonization and PNG since the 1960s; this is a personal and leadership challenge for all ordinary Bougainvilleans and the government.
I feel such a search back in time can have the Bougainville society and the Kanauro villager and the ABG officer in Buka see light on where to go on from the autonomous stage of government to a progressive and free Bougainville that thousands have suffered and died for.