IF I were to make a small speech about my country (PNG) anywhere in the world, it would be themed: “PNG is a niche!”
Everybody knows that we are culturally diverse and linguistically rich – having about 850 different dialects.
Back in the 1990s, an anthropology friend told me that many prominent anthropologists in the world did their field work in PNG.
After Independence the world came to us for copper, gold and other precious metals and then they went for the oil too.
Today our Ministers and Government are excited about liquefied natural gas (LNG) and are scouting for interested developers.
Just last week, a Minister spoke about the potential of black coal in at least three provinces in PNG.
A few years ago, a French scientist said something to the effect that PNG is an enviable niche for any biologist in the world to study the diverse plant and animal life – from the tip of the highest mountains in the Highlands to the depths of the Bismarck Sea.
All those niches are here – for sure. However, there is a niche that is still untapped and that must be brought up and brought out to the rest of the world.
That niche has to do with stories – the old, old stories or the current/contemporary stories that have yet to be truly told. Those are the stories that scratch below the surface, the stories that are more than just news that are 200-300-word long.
The problem with us here in PNG is we are short of good and eager storytellers – people who can see, listen and document stories before telling or sharing them, and I mean telling stories in the form of poetry, short stories, novels and scripts.
That niche is here – but as yet it seems people are unaware that it is here because we over time have trained ourselves to think that all that is good must be touched, felt, traded for fast money, ergo.
Stories are rich too. If we treasure them – and tell them with some sense of appreciation, we can get paid too for the effort.
It is this story world in PNG that I think is an untapped mine that we must try to tap into.
In the process, we protect our own identity and heritage when we document such stories in the form of poetry, short stories, novels or films.
That is my belief.
Think about this: In a decade all the LNG and black coal may have been extracted with big holes and rusting pipes left behind, but our stories captured will still remain, if we manage to document them.