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Subject: Re: Can Tribal Fright be Eradicated once and for all?

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Date Posted: Wed, Oct 18 2006, 04:14:07pm
In reply to: Fr. Robert Plews Laka, SVD 's message, "Can Tribal Fright be Eradicated once and for all?" on Tue, Oct 17 2006, 01:56:55am

Thank you Fr. Lak for bringing this topic up.

This has been one of the single main factor destroying established infrastructure and as well as causing people migrate to urban areas. It has also destroyed lives as well, effects of which will be felt of generations. This should be one of our main focus of discussions, even though politics and economics seem to be the more `juicy` topics to chat about.

I for one lost both of my grandfathers in tibal fights. Recenly my uncle lost his life-times work and home in the recent fight at Lakamanda. He is now a vagrant in POM, got a block at 8 mile and told me he does not want to return home. Is this what we want to see happen while preaching about economics and politics on this forum?

Fr. Lak, you have brought up an important issue for discussion. We must stop character bashing and focus on the issue at hand `HOW to stop/control/minimise/prevent tribal warefare in Enga`.

Solution to stoping tribal warefare is not one but many. Each has its own merits. I think we can start by clearly defining our objectives and how we will go about obtaining information and the possible solutions. Than we can evaluate each solution properly and prioritise them. After prioritising than we plan our action and how we are going action those plans with clearly pre-defined end points which we can assses to determine if what we are doing is effective or not.

This is a life-times work. Not just something we can do in a year or 5 years. The nerve centre for whatever organisation that can be set up must be in Enga and all meetings in Enga. That is where the problem is.

My solution? Re-evaluate our traditional way of solving conflicts and see how it has evolved and how the same prinicples can be applied in morden Enga in solving tribal warfare.



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[> [> Subject: Re: Can Tribal Fright be Eradicated once and for all?

Fr. Robert LAKA
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Date Posted: Thu, Oct 19 2006, 10:04:14pm

PNGean, thank you for your much appreciate thoughts. I comment you for that. You and I share something in common, (victims of a trible fright). I was really thinking along what you have mentioned, that is to go back to our traditional way and start from there, analysing the traditional ways of solving any problem and see if the same principle can be applied in the modern way. This might serve as our stepping stone to begin with.

I also want to make some points as well regarding the issue, that is: the transition period from bow and arrow to the high powered guns. What factors influenced/contributed to the possession of these guns. I remember seeing the first gun 303 hand gun in 1987 when I was in high school, Gr. 7. I believe there are many now.

Further more, my late grandfather mentioned that, when there was tribal fight, the intention was to "would a person and not to kill him". I didn't understand what he meant, up until now, well, but the point is that, if that was the result of tribal fight, "to wound" someone and later on, there was the kepa singi and tee pingi if one die as a result, what happened.

Why is there so much hatred, so much brutality, so much damaged done as a consequence of tribal fight? I keep on wondering. Pay back and revenge were never done on someone else's land, today it is out of hand. What is the motivational factor here to do so.

Taking these into consideration, can there be a way, a solution to all these?

YOU ARE RIGHT, to say, it is a life time work, but there has be a start somewhere and it has to be continued. Enga was never Enga as it is now.

My dear brother and sister Engans, we really have to do something about this issue. I for one do not feel like taking this as a cultural phenomenon, but I can't go away with it. If there is a way, I wish we could find that way.

Finally Kaim PNGean, I am Fr. Robert Laka, not Fr. Robert LAK, the former Western Highlands Governor. Kaim o, namba ambum tainge yo, simbai daa. thanks.

Fr. Robert P. LAKA, SVD

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Can Tribal Fright be Eradicated once and for all?

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Date Posted: Tue, Oct 24 2006, 06:42:01pm

Kaim, yarai eret lelyo. Spelling error.

Yes, Fr Laka we have to make a start somewhere. I see this small discussion has the begining. I think if we are passionate and belive in what we want to achive, we can bring about change. Not necesarrily change a large number of people at once but, changing one person at a time.

Back to tribal fights in Enga, the late 80s seems to be turning point in all of PNG in general. It was also around this time at there was a rapid increase in crimes in major PNG centres involving the use of firearms. The entry of guns into Enga and eventually ending up in the hands of the ordinary Engan signalled a shift in tribal warefare. I think the power and the seemingly feeling of being an `untouchable' was in itself a significant driving force drawing firearms into Enga and I think our own Engan politicians and bussinessmen had lot to do with it. Most of you will agree that it is still going on. Sort of an arms race!

So firearms is an important factor to consider. So discouraging the ownership of guns in Engan tribes, families, clans etc seems to be a way to go. It will be difficult task but no harm in trying anyway. While doing so, we have to tell and show our own people that solving conflicts by means of a tribal fight is not the best way to bringing peace. Infact, it only brings destruction, misery and alot other things but definetly peace is not one of them! Therefore tribal ware must not even be considered at all.

Re-visiting conflict resolution in tranditional Enga will definetly provide some of the answers that we seek. That brings to my next point, and that is the western justice system, the courts that supposedly are the way to solve conflicts. I think most of our people belive that, that system of justice and solving conflicts does not do what its supposed to do. In most times, there is always a bitter looser! and an elated winner!

Furthermore, it is non-existent in the remote parts of Enga. The only justice system they know, understand and are aware of is the traditional one. So its common sense that we should use what we are familiar with rather than introducing a foreign concept that most of our village people fail to understand. In the traditional way of solving conflicts, I think there were no loosers and no winners. All parties were usually content with whatever resolution that was agreed upon. There might be some discontent but not to the extend of an all out tribal warefare.

My grandfater, who was a village magistrate was killed because he tried to use the court system to solve a conflict. The decision made was accepted by one party but not by the other. The tribes went to war, he refused to be invoved and was shouting from his hut calling all young men not to take up arms. He also refused to runaway but stayed on in his home, tending the fences, the gardens because he believed that if he ran away, than he was failing the system that he was taught to uphold. And for that he lost his life! Up to this day, some of my uncles are still bitter about his murder, mind you this happened more than 20 years ago! But we keep reminding ourselves that if he was alive, a tribal warefare is the last thing he wanted. And if his spirit could talk to us, he will definetly tell my uncles to drop the thought because the very idea stinks from the pit of hell itself!



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[> [> [> [> Subject: Give Them Something To Do! The Onus is On Us!!

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Date Posted: Sat, Oct 28 2006, 07:15:19am


The final paragraph of your most recent correspondence has stirred me to put pen to ink. Your expression of disgust over the unnecessary murder of your wise grandfather before his prime moves me with emotions of sorrow, horror and regret. I too had suffered a similar fate when my uncle (mother's youngest brother) was killed along the road to Wanepop Catholic church in 1993. A raging war ensued thereafter between my mother's entire tribe (Pyain) and the Pyapit tribe of Laiagam. Though I am glad to say the war has since ended (for over 5 years), the consequence beforehand was that it spread to neighboring clans causing the destruction of the once infamous Laiagam High School at the hands of the Walin tribe (my father's). The high school property was stripped off of every single material and possession it had (including its former glory!). Mamale was even stripped of its livelihood as I stood watching solemnly from a distance at the Komaip junction with my father and family on cold afternoon in 1995! Bad memories of black ashes and smoke linger fresh in my mind as I shed tears of horror and fear!

But needless to say, I have gained something from the whole ordeal. And that is;

1) ANYONE being attacked because of tribal affiliation is SOMEONE'S grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunty, neice, nephew, cousin or even FRIEND!! So the intricate nature of tribal network and social relationships remains strong and ambiguous through inter-marriages (regardless of district) though it will remain oblivious to you or I until assailants surface with submachine guns without warning! (What a risky world we live in, with or without knowledge!!!)
Lesson: Fear all, Love all, and Hate none!!

2) People caught for smuggling or harboring guns deserve to be castrated like ordinary livestock and thrown behind cells alongside hardcore criminals. Imagine the wrong message their guns transmit of rabid testosterone, uncompromise and supreme egos. They are equally liable and guilty for the resultant effects of careless handling, regardless of who pulls the trigger.
Lesson: Fear War, Love Peace, Hate Guns!!

So the best means of solving tribal conflict is:

1) Do your part to pursue small entrepenuerial exercises by injecting reasonable cash to promote small business and investment (e.g. purchasing livestock feed for animal farming; chickens, pigs, cows, goats, sheep). I say this from experience, because I had the hugest turkey you ever saw during August 2005 in Laiagam!! If you're diligent enough, you could expand business by establishing supply chain networks. (Then again, this comment might be unfair because of Laiagam's close proximity to Porgera. But imagine what the human desire to succeed and gain technology can achieve??!! Nothing is impossible!! Rice could even grow in Africa!)

2) Leaders need to work with leaders and host public awareness: As I have said time and time again. "Too many chiefs and few indians!" Go home to your pig huts and sit your butts on one of those hard wooden stools or platforms and preach about the importance of inter-tribal cooperation and the details of global change. I have done this pleasurably in villages and public arenas, and surprisingly, the people listen earnestly! I sense a potential for change as long as leaders (like us) are genuiune and willing to lead by example! I intend to do the same again next year in 2007 with maximum vitality!!!

3) I don't care WHO or WHAT, but VOUCH and VOTE for a political party or candidate who places his/her philosophies on AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT. That is where our potential for development lies. While other countries have already superseded us by climbing up the ladder and reaching the service sector, PNG can only start from scratch by taking efficient use of its vast abundant resources that have long-term potential (e.g. land, labor).
The national election (2007) is the only time citizens will ever get the chance to express their desires and will for themselves, their resources and children's welfare. If Democracy cannot work that way, then ALMIGHTY HELP US!!


Tokyo, JP

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[> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Can Tribal Fright be Eradicated once and for all?

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Date Posted: Mon, Oct 30 2006, 02:16:52pm

Kaim, thanks.



ps. I am planning to make the trip to Enga too.

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