One of my family member contested the Okapa Open seat in the last election in 2012. He was a very hardworking man who made his way up the social ladder from a primary school drop out to being a simple plumber and then to becoming a millionaire at a young age I should say. He ran his campaign, as is the case with many candidates in PNG, with money. I was doing third year at Unitech when the writs was open. Despite my pleas for him not to enter politics and concentrate on his business endeavors, he defiantly shunned all my advice and went for it anyway.
Fast forward to 2016. Again the fever has gripped almost everyone in Okapa. As September becomes the present, people are now seeing October as tomorrow and then 2017 is just around the corner. From my extensive travels mostly throughout the rural parts of Okapa, intending candidates are starting to pop up. At this stage no one has made public appearances but you can see. You will know who is going and who might or might not be standing.
It’s an exciting time in Okapa. A time when the village folks are relieved of their monetary burden in fulfilling their traditional obligations. Buying coffins for dead relatives, transporting the coffins, buying lamb flaps or cow cartons for parties and so forth is now becoming a candidate’s responsibility. “Sore em tasol bin karim hevi blo mi ya” is what their itching ears want to hear on polling day.
It’s also an exciting time when miracles happen. Miracles in a sense that you don’t need to work or say a lot of words. Just say “Dadi Bos”, “lida” or “Memba” to an intending candidate and within minutes your pocket is full with his money. It’s a time of happiness. A time when beer is surprisingly free to some, depending on who they use their magic words on. It’s a time of love. When those who use the magic words on candidates are victims themselves of the same magic words. When women, sometimes underage, come to them with a naughty smile and say “dadi bos.” All the money in the pocket magically transfers to the opposite sex within a minute or two in the dropen bush or the kofi gaden, depending on which is close by. Everybody is excited. Sounds of joy rings throughout the village with drunkards singing into the night.
I wish I could boast about how my father went on to establish more companies and provide more employment to many Okapians. I wish I could tell you of his wealth so that we all could be proud of as Okapians. But no. I cannot. Unfortunately he “gave” it all away to fellow Okapians. He made direct investments as a victim of the magic words in 2012.
One has to be a winner and the rest losers. There is no second price in this race. Not even consolation prizes. The winner takes it all. And so the cycle continues.
It’s now the season of the magic words. Tis the season to be merry. Forget about the 4 years of turmoil. Forget about how we struggle to get basic services, “em nomol ya ba yumi osem yet. Gim na mi kaikai yet na bai u ksim vote blo mi.”
When will we stop entangling ourselves with this bad habit? In the end, nobody benefits out of it. Who will initiate an end to this? Okapa needs change but Okapians are not changing, both villagers and the elites. We are still captivated by the magic words.
Open your eyes my fellow Okapians. Let’s stop this cycle when tomorrow comes.
By Carterga Wayuse
Originally posted on Facebook 01st September 2016. Read more: https://www.facebook.com/carterga.wayuse/posts/2109382785954391