Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Beyond Capacity


For one year my family had no TV. The one we had no longer worked. Without a TV I found myself watching cheap pirated DVDs on the home PC. For news and other inforrmation I relied on the daily newspapers, radio, and other electronic media such as the internet and Face Book.

I can easily get my news in seconds using the internet or on my mobile phone. Incredible, within one year the world of information was just at my finger tip—I didn’t have to wait until the 6.00pm news or for &.30 Report for my news.

I depend on my traditional print media for other news and information. I walk every morning down to Waigani market and shopping centre to pick up my newspaper. In doing so I am also exercising and refreshing myself before tackling the challenges of the day. I’m usually up by 4.00am and by 6.00am I need an hour’s walk to and back from Waigani.

There aren’t many people in the mornings so it is kind of nice. By the time I head back to my house I meet people making their way to work, together with those who have nothing to do, but loft around the city. By the time all the shops and offices are open the population at Waigani and elsewhere in the city swells beyond its own capacity.

It’s unbelievable the population in our small commercial spots in the city have a plethora of developmental challenges as far as urban planning is concerned. I wish people never use the front of shops as mini-markets, for street sales, and for taxis to occupy all the available parking spaces. I wish the shop owners can work together to develop the front and the back of their shops. Waigani commercial centre is a good example of civil and commercial ignorance working together to promote irresponsible development. It should be a case study for urban development, and public health and hazard authorities.

Should we continue to ignore this poor development? I think not. I think there should be regulations and expectations on shop owners’ responsibilities to keep their front and backyards cleaned, managed, and regulated. Taxis should not be allowed to occupy all the parking spaces, instead they should be regulated to use only one designated space.

As users of the public space we must also change our mindsets as responsible citizens. We need to stop selling goods outside shops, dispose our trash in proper rubbish bins, and observe some decent standards of urban living. Is it too much to ask?

I have travelled in the South Pacific region, but have never come across a filthy capital city like ours. We seem to be bent on making Port Moresby become a dirty city, full of mindless people preoccupied with creating a miserable life for others. We need to exercise some civic responsibility, observe some basic principles of hygiene, respect, and honor. We are just our worst enemies, imagine that.

In my book of poems, A Rower’s Song, I had penned a poem “Urban Natives”, which describes this scenario. I now share this poem with the readers of this column:

Too much rubbish on streets
We don’t care anymore
We don’t know ourselves
We are the sores of our eyes
We are lost in the crowd
Milling around Chinese shops
We listen to the street preacher
Choreography in natural form
Few are women preachers
We observe and cross the road
There are no pedestrian signs
We brought the village to town
We are the urban natives
We will never return home.
  
The new market at Waigani has more space and a good car park. It’s good to see a security company maintaining the market, but how long this will go on is anyone’s guess.

The issue I have with the market is with those canvases and strewn bags as shelters for those selling vegetables outside of the building. Those should be removed. Keep it neat and tidy. This is not a bush market.

No one seems to care if the trees adjacent to the Waigani Police Station are used as a market. I won’t be surprised if all the Neem trees standing there are cut down just so that people don’t use it as a market in much the same manner the market behind Boroko Post Officer was established.

The betel nut and cooked food market on either side of the drain are beyond me. In both locations people make so much rubbish that one would think we are living somewhere without a sense of cleanliness. How can we encourage this urban ulcer to grow?

The point here is that we need to drive at developing a program of ‘urban literacy”. That is, a program targeted at developing a type of literacy aimed at educating both individuals and corporate citizens about urbanization and urban civility and responsibility. I know there are annual cooperate programs organized around this theme, but perhaps we could look at elements of social engineering that encourages literate behaviours to take us further from where we are now.

Some of these social engineering practices include spot fine, parking meters, specified parking zones, policing, and city-watch. Instead of waiting until social conditions worsen as in Eriku a more proactive approach should be taken. Review the social engineering practices of once beautiful Madang town or depolutated Kainantu town for example—two places that now have caught the viral disease of unchecked urbanization and urban population growth. Much worse could happen.

Instead of thinking in terms of vertical urban planning we should think of urban planning in lateral terms. Decentering and widening commercial activities in densely populated areas can help as is the case of Badili, where a new commercial centre built by the Steamships Group of companies has helped to keep magnetize the population in that corner of the city.. The Vision City mega-mall and the development at the Harbour City are great examples of such thinking.

Port Moresby is what we make of it.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Moving Forward



I was honored to speak at Waigani Primary School Speech Day on 08 December 2011. The following is an edited version of my speech. In his book, Change Your Thinking Change Your Life, Brian Tracy says: “You can learn anything you need to learn, to accomplish any goal you can set for yourself. This principle offers the way for you to take complete control over your future.”

I urged the graduating students to take complete control of their life and future: “This is not an easy rule, but it is definitely simple,” as one would agree with Brian Tracy. Everyone can be anything they want to be once they have set their goals for themselves and work on achieving such goals.

One of the greatest President of America, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, once said: “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.” In realizing our Independence some 36 years ago our founding fathers had no doubt about the future of this great nation. They moved forward with strong and active faith into the future.

I asked students to think about the journey they have taken so far. Their graduation ended one part of their journey. This year they will begin another phase of their journey onward. Their future is still ahead of them. Every grade they completed was a different phase of their lives.

Students learn to do better every grade they go in their education. It is not the end result that is important; it is the process itself that makes one learn something more important to one’s life. Going forward is only possible when one learns to go forward. Having a goal is a push to move forward.

I urged students to think about what they would become by the time they reach the university level. I spoke about two goals I had set for myself and achieved.

Samuel Wrondimi and Cheryl Winduo

I was also a proud parent that day also to witness the graduation of Grade Eight Students at Waigani Primary School. My daughter Cheryl was among the graduating students. The joy I had in seeing her graduate was also the same happiness other parents and guardians had in seeing their children pass through Grade Eight last year.

I challenged all grade eight students to perform at a higher level in which ever secondary schools they will enter this year. Our education system is for those who work hard and are willing to learn in order to reach their goals. It is not for those who are lazy and unwilling to learn. It is not for those with unrealistic expectations, but for those who are willing to learn, skill themselves, and put these to work for them, their families, and Papua New Guinea.

Waigani Primary School is one of the top primary schools in the country because of its principal, teachers, and the Board of Management who have led that school with distinction throughout the years. The school has attracted many national and international events and visitors. The school has produced Ambassadors, pilots, accountants, lawyers, engineers, archectects, businessmen, public servants, teachers, lecturers, etc.

Three years ago I was privileged to fly in an Air Niugini plane captained by a female pilot, who graduated from Waigani Primary school. That made me real proud of Waigani Primary School. The message here is: We can fly high to reach the stars.

Thank you to the principal and hard working teachers for making the school a role model school in the National Capital District and the country.

I challenged parents, guardians, and friends of the school to engage proactively next year to support and cooperate with those who run the school: “It is our school—we must give our time and support in whatever way we can to make our school the best learning environment for our children.”

The graduating students were challenged to take full control of their lives.

“The decisions that you make now will lead you to where you want to be. If you have a negative attitude in life you will always end up with negative results. If you take a positive approach in life you will end up with positive results. TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE is what I want you to do in your life. Take control of your attitude, behaviors, and actions. Those who end up on the streets, become unemployed, become drug users, become criminals, become liabilities to their families, experience negative results, and struggle to succeed are those who refused to take control of their lives.”

The students were encouraged to think ahead of the future: “Many of you here today will become the pillars and shoulders on which our nation rests on. I hope that you will lead based on the value of positive mind-set you develop now. Our country is a fast changing society. It needs all of you to contribute to its development in whatever way you can in future. The jobs that you will do in future will depend on the values you develop at this stage in your life. I am asking you today to develop a set of values that will make you become a useful member of our society.”

My concluding remarks: “I congratulate all the graduating students for completing their Grade Eight at Waigani Primary School. You are our pride and ambassadors of our school. Go out there and make us proud. Fly high to reach the stars.” Let’s move forward with strong and active faith without doubting the present.

I thanked all the teachers, parents, guardians, supporters, and friends of Waigani Primary School for making it possible for our children to stay in school and complete their education. WELL DONE.

I acknowledge Mrs. Catherine Moresi—the Principal, Mr. Toso, Senior teacher, all teachers of Waigani Primary, Dr. John Kola and all Board of Management of the School who gave me the opportunity to speak in 2011 Speech Day of the School.


Family and Friends (with Wrondimi and Wafiwa Family):
Cheryl Winduo (front left) and Samuel Wrondimi's (behind camera)
Waigani Primary Graduation
at Port Moresby National High School 08/12/2011.

Friday, January 13, 2012

For Your Indulgence 2012


I asked myself if the column I created is of any value to me as a writer. I have given a lot of thoughts about it. At first I wanted to close the window for ever.As it turned out the loyal followers of Steven’s Window seem unrelenting in that the window must open again.

I did resist the temptation to open the window last year. This year is a new chapter in our lives. We have to pick up from where we have fallen and move on. The world is changing every second.

So many things happened in the year 2011 that were not brought to those who follow Steven’s Window column. I was unable to contribute anything for the column. I watched, the world go by, beginning with the political whirlwind and change of regimes in the world: Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Lybia; USA captures and executes Osama bin Ladin, earthquake in Christchurch, then Japan’s worst Tsunami and near nuclear disaster, and at the home front, the change of the guards between the Somare group and the O’Neill group, and the worst ever plane crash in PNG. It was a year of change that history books will return to time and time again.

As for me I had to operate in two different countries in 2011. The first six months was spent in Hawaii, USA and the next six months in Papua New Guinea. I had to teach in two different universities with two different systems in one year.

The first six months I held the Arthur Lynn Andrews Chair in Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii. This position was held within the Center for Pacific Islands Studies (CPIS). The CPIS is part of the School of Asian and Pacific Studies. I was also a Visiting Researcher with the Pacific Islands Development Program within the East West Center.

Holding the Arthur Lynn Andrews Chair was the most important thing in my life as a writer scholar within the Pacific region. I was the second Pacific Islander to hold the personal chair. The Andrews Chair is one of the top awards made to an outstanding scholar of indigenous origin in—someone who had produced new knowledge to further the understanding of our people and society. In the USA such an honor is given to few outstanding individuals.

I had completed that assignment in May 2011 before returning home only to go straight into teaching courses at the University of Papua New Guinea in Semester 2 of 2011.

It was an interesting year for me. I learnt so much in a space of twelve months. In the next several articles I will share with the follower’s of Steven’s Window some of the inspirations I gathered. So many people have been asking me one question: So will the Steven’s Window open again? It is now open again for your indulgence.

As the days reeled to the end of last year I thought about many things that this beautiful country of ours has been through since the last 36years of Independence. We are enjoying the fruits of the hard work our pioneer leaders had cultivated in their effort to break free from the shackles of colonialism. The path we took has many interesting curves and bends, but we have remained steadfast in our resolve to maintain democracy at all cost.

Today the generation I went to school with is running the country.Today we are making a mark on the national political scene, in the bureacracy, and in the business world. Yet, as I reflect on this I realize this country is built on the shoulders of every Papua New Guineans who sacrificed themselves, who had faith in this country, and pushed on to get here. Everyone has contributed a pint of salt for this country.

PNG goes to the polls this year. Intending candidates and political parties are preparing their road maps and master plans for the 2012 General Elections. Many LLGs and wards are responding to the approaches of intending candidates. The campaign has started in many areas of the country even though the law says something else.

In the last several weeks leading up to the Christmas and New Year period Papua New Guineans showed the most resalient character of ourselves as a nation by observing the test of our Constitution and the parliamentary democracy we are proud of upholding since Independence in 1975. Whatever people thought, felt, and experienced since August 2011 remains safely locked away in their mental chest as moments they can return to in future if a reference is needed.

The only catch to 2011 is that I discovered Face Book. So did many Papua New Guineans. Now you can follow everything happening in the world just from your mobile. Like many others I ended up signing for my own Face Book. Papua New Guineans are using Face Book to discuss, send comments, provide commentaries, and make the social network become an agent of change. Many like me were following the news feed from Malum Nalu and the NBC reports on the latest development on the political stand-off between Somare group and the O’Neill group. Many of these moments are now Face Book history.

A commentator in one of the newspapers said it clearly: The debates in the Parliament on the destiny of this country is limited to only few leaders, but the debate in the public on electronic media is vibrant, democratic, and is the simple, ordinary people’s voices.

In the years ahead the electronic media will either strengthen or bring to end regimes that are popular or unpopular to the masses. Some of our leaders are already on Face Book—just wondering whether they are reading what the PNG public and the world is saying about them.

In opening the Steven’s Window for the year 2012 I am reminding readers that you can follow me on my blog: www.stevenswindow.blogspot.com and on Facebook. Look beyond this window to a future only you can have.

Friday, January 6, 2012

For Your Indulgence


Lotus Plants, or Buddha;s Tears

DEAR FRIENDS,


HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL WHERE EVER YOU ARE READING THIS IN THE WORLD.


One of my committment this year 2012 is to keep this blog busy.  I will reopen the print version of this blog with The National newspaper of Papua New Guinea, starting next Friday. Here is a sneak preview of the first article for this year. Visit this blog as often as you can and indulge yourself in some creative ideas and discussions.

I asked myself if the column Steven's Window I created is of any value to me as a writer. I have given a lot of thoughts about it. At first I wanted to close the window for ever. As it turned out the loyal followers of Steven’s Window seem unrelenting in that the window must open again.

I did resist the temptation to open the window last year. This year is a new chapter in our lives. We have to pick up from where we have fallen and move on. The world is changing every second.

So many things happened in the year 2011 that were not brought to those who follow Steven’s Window column. I was unable to contribute anything for the column. I watched, the world go by, beginning with the political whirlwind and change of regimes in the world: Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Lybia; USA captures and executes Osama bin Ladin, earthquake in Christchurch, then Japan’s worst Tsunami and near nuclear disaster, and at the home front, the change of the guards between the Somare group and the O’Neill group, and the worst ever plane crash in PNG. It was a year of change that history books will return to time and time again.

As for me I had to operate in two different countries in 2011. The first six months was spent in Hawaii, USA and the next six months in Papua New Guinea. I had to teach in two different universities with two different systems in one year.

Read more in next week Friday's The Weekender of The National newspaper of Papua New Guinea.

Best wishes for this year to you all.