By MAVARA HANUA
For the past 100 years, most of our iconic enterprises have been built on a pyramid scheme of bos man and his kago boi.
From the perched plantations of the
to the cattle valleys of the Whagi Plain, it was all about the kago boi doing loads of work while boss yells every conceivable biological description of the female anatomy, to bring a sense of order. Niugini Islands
No knowledge building, no high end skill transfers, it was all about using our boys and girls as lorries and trucks.
I’d say not much has changed.
Ok so we wear trendy clothes, have slick phones and work in air-conditioned offices but guys, we’re still doing so much work for little remuneration.
We’re still kago boi’ing around.
But like anything in
, there are those who are making change in the most PNG way possible: Brukim Bush Tasol. Papua New Guinea
Several years ago I befriended an influential lawyer who has been a dear mentor to me. He stands a mere 4, 9 but you knew he was from the bar.
With a shot gun of a voice and a veneer of nobility, he commanded great respect amongst his peers when he delivered his arguments in court.
A senior partner in one of PNG’s respected law firms, he had great insight on the daily fights Papua New Guineans endured over the years in the big bad commercial world where the white boys and girls have it all.
Quite unsurprisingly he’d tell me the web of clienteles that would only exclusively deal with white firms.
He’d then tell me how they’d farm work out to the folks across the
Coral Sea because the black boys couldn’t do shit.
Irrespective of this, they ploughed on and eventually the government, developers and major law firms around the world started working with them.
I asked him one evening over a glass of scotch, what was his inspiration and he told me the story about his first encounter with his first client.
He was a typical businessman in the early days of our independence, quite new with business affairs but had shit loads of knowledge on his profession, flying.
Curious by my mentor, he kept asking him where does he work.
He indicated the law firm which was a white firm.
The trailblazing pilot said so you work for these guys.
If you start your firm tomorrow you’ll get all my work.
To put into context, this man was making millions just by sitting in his cockpit for an hour.
His firm was born and over the years, has given my mentor inspiration to go where no PNG lawyers have gone, the world of natural resources and big commercial field.
His weary eyes looked at me and said, our greatest asset is our unpredictability.
“They think just because we have bad body odor, don’t have a dress sense and are woefully untidy, we’re dumb but pikinini, how wrong are they!”
That was what summed up PNG’s persona in the professional world.
Many of our men and women are insanely intelligent in this great nation of ours.
From designing industrial technologies in the fields of communications, transport and weapons systems to frontline development in drug discovery for AIDS, TB and malaria, these are our men and women.
Some manage major mining and petroleum projects around the world while others are formulating dialogue with rouge states that are on the brink of war with their enemies.
Indeed knowledge and the desire to acquire it has become a major investment tool for our people.
Clans, tribes and families are spending everything so that their children may reach the high echelons of their professions.
Many die before the first pay and yet they continue.
Courageous and a sacrifice beyond compression, our people do this every day.
From stashing away daily sales of kaukau or fish in the markets to fathers selling bottles, they are the backbone of this nation.
Papua New Guineans know their roots and this is why we hate being a kago boi.
Our families didn’t invest all that money so that carry the trash out when they themselves don’t know how to build a secure firewall using CISCO applications to deter hackers in our major government and financial institutions, to clean the toilets irrespective of the fact that we are able to infuse compounds derived from our genetic materials so as to eliminate the TB bug, to paint the runways, when we have flown the largest airplane in the world or to sweep the floors when in fact we design major highways.
Education is the tool for our security, prosperity and happiness and it is the only way we become mastas of our future and move away from being the kago boi.