I left home in a some-what permanent way at the tender age of 13, returning home for brief holidays in between my school years. Now I returned home after many years at the age of 50 to be with my family. This is a dilemma that most of our educated members have that I am part of. We left our homes in search of education and employment, but failed to return home until we are very old.
I don’t blame anybody for the dilemma, but to accept it as a process of life that some of us have to go through.
The regret I have is that things are no longer the same. Life is no longer the same as I expect it to be. Communities are no longer what they were. People are no longer the same people when you left to go to those faraway places that your relatives only can wonder about. It is an experience that separates them from you.
I came home to find that the freedom I used to have is now tested against the new social disorder that has every man, woman, and children live in fear of being harassed by a band of druggies, ‘steam’ induced youths, and knife-wilding gangs along the road that I used to enjoy walking to school every day of my childhood years.
I am a local from Ularina village in Wewak. I remember the days when I used to walk without fear of rascals and intimidating youths to Mongniol Primary School and to the Wirui church. We used to walk in the night up and down the Nuigo Saure road without fear of any one.
Now that freedom is something of the past. Women and children, mothers and daughters and innocent people are threatened with a knife if they don’t give money or whatever they want to the youths stationed along the road from Nuigo settlement down all the way to Tangugo.
We had a good night’s rest the first night. The second night onward until New Year 2014 I could not sleep. I became ill from the second day onward. Fire-crackers were fired every night. The thought of attack from “steam” induced youths compelled me to question whether it was a right decision to return home.
My family lineage is linked to one of the three landowning clans from Koiken Kriminding. Our simple life-styles have been penetrated by the ‘wild-west’ syndrome that seems to have casted a dark shadow over Wewak. Wewak has become a cowboy town in a strange way.
From the local’s perspective the settlers have encroached into the traditional land areas without our permission. Gangs from the settlements are harassing and threatening our women, children, and innocent men. Police did what they could during the Christmas and New Year period to keep the festive season free and safe for most of us. After the police left the youths continued their same activities.
I used to take things for granted that every thing is fine at home. For me there is so much at stake in my home-town of Wewak. Now after a few days I am left to think there are more risks in Wewak than in the city.
The social fabric of the local community in Wewak has fragmented to a point where one cannot trust one’s own community youths. Many of the people in my communities of Ularina, Niumuigen, Saure live in fear. Some of the youths are involved in drinking ‘steam” that it is impossible to trust them as right-minded people.
It is such a shame that the leaders of Wewak in the past up till now have neglected the local people who gave land for the government and church to set base in Wewak. Political leaders have ignored the local villagers. There is no single development in the Wewal local communities. From parliamentarians to administrators the plight of the Wewak local villager to be heard is something that they don’t want to consider.
The road linking my communities to Wewak through the Nuigo settlement has never been maintained, upgraded, or sealed. What we need is a police station at Tangugo, a clinic, a school, electricity, and other community empowering developments. The people voted in to represent them have failed their responsibilities. Where did all the money for rural development and electrification go to?
I contribute to development at the national level and to come home to witness the total neglect of Wewak local villagers is a heart wrenching experience. Not one single national leader from Wewak has done anything to help the Wewak Local villagers that I am affiliated to.
The local villagers are willing to work with the government and genuine investors. As long as there is a sustainable return in the agreement then we will release our lands for development. Right now the local villagers are unwilling to release their land for development.
Now we have a lot of educated people who are advising our clans that our land is no for sale. Wewak will not develop until we release our lands. Why should we release our lands when we are suffering, denied our freedom to move around, and no one wants to visit our communities to assure us that at least we will have electricity, sufficient police patrol, and aid-posts to help those who are sick and injured.
Why should we partner in development of the province and all we get is total neglect. Why should we work with the government to develop Wewak if all we will get is a thank you ‘papa graun’ for releasing your land?
I trust that the new Lord Mayor of Wewak Mr. Malenki, a Wewak Local himself will get the help he needs from the LLG President, the Wewak Open MP, and Governor of the Province to attend to the concerns I raise here.
I pray and hope that 2014 will bring some much needed development to Wewak local villagers so that we can work together to build our province.