An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Bigger Than Ben Hur

PNG is marking its 30th anniversary next Friday. You would be hard pressed not to avoid it if you looked at any of the local media. Everywhere you turn this thing is becoming bigger than Ben Hur.

Radio DJ's are constantly letting us know .. in case we forgot. TV ads are repeatedly shown, some with footage from the original 1975 Independence celebrations and others with footage of the small pool of national sporting heroes. The newspapers are not to be outdone either with regular updates on what and where is happening.

There will be the usual major festivals happening with a little bit extra thrown in. The Goroka show of course and the Hiri Moale in Moresby will sing-sing away. Lae is having its own extravaganza, in town and even the uni is having a float parade and great debate, amongst other things.

To top it off the Governor-General has only now (yesterday) announced that not only next Friday the 16th will be a public holiday but the 15th will be as well. A four day weekend. Any excuse I guess. Although thinking back to 1988 and the bicentennial celebrations in Australia, I can't remember there being an extra day off, and that was for 200 years.

I would have liked to have seen the original Independence celebrations here, because I am sure they would have been spectacular. From talking to my neighbour who was in Moresby at the time he said that there was a real nationwide pride and jubilation that crackled in the air.

Similar style pride and jubilation is obviously trying to be recreated 30 years later, but you sense that things are a little bit different. There have already been reports that certain high profile people have said that there is no reason to celebrate. They argue that in 30 years the country has gone backwards, not forwards (it is hard to argue against that ... but they will be at the Uni Great Debate .. should be interesting, though one-sided).

Whatever the overall sense of the occasion, and it should be big, my plans are this year to take in the activities in Lae. Last year I got to see the Goroka show, which was superb, this year I will see what there is to offer here.