Victor Arme, who holds a responsible job in the District Commissioner's office, is but one of thousands of Papua New Guineans who have risen from village life to one of active participation in their country's affairs. In most cases, their idea of retirement is to return to their village.
works even harder and buys even more material possessions. When retirement comes he usually gets shunted into an old people's home, but if he still has some steam left he will pursue the simple life. A shack by a beach. Perhaps no television and quite possibly no electricity at all. He has made it.
The Papua New Guinea man starts life that way. he has his shack on the beach, no electricity, no material possessions, just the simple, healthy life and we have the gall to encourage him to leave his village, get a job, buy all the man-made objects to help keep the capitalist world afloat then say he can go back to his village and live in his shack on the beach.
It's all pretty sick really.
The typical Papua New Guinea village, of which there are thousands with at least one at every anchorage, is a model of socialism working successfully. If a person wants a new house, the whole village clubs together and builds it, the men cutting and barking the skeletal members while the women and children make the thatching. Within a week a new house is built which costs the'occupant absolutely nothing beyond the obligation to return his time to those who assisted him.
Similarly, if the village owns a coconut plantation or garden or whatever, all profits from that enterprise return to the village to improve it as a whole rather than make just a few men rich. No one owns his own block of land. The land belongs to the village. No one changes anything in the village without permission from the village council of elders. The whole system works extremely well.
Tribalism not having broken down, there is no need for kindergartens, baby sitters and old people's homes. One generation helps the other in perfect harmony. Only when they move to an employed situation do the trappings of the European become necessary.
Fortunately the government is keen to maintain the village scene and to this end is actively engaged in promoting village industries such as fishing, plantations, vegetable and fruit growing, boat building and repairing — anything which keeps the villager at home yet provides an income large enough to allow him to contribute to the country as a whole through taxation.
It is a delicate job. Even village industry could destroy a village, turning it from a perfect example of socialism to a crude example of capitalism. But so far most villages remain much as they were thousands of years ago. The buildings look beautiful being built from, and blending in with, the surrounding bush. The grounds are swept clean, dogs and pigs and kids play amongst the huts, and dugout canoes are drawn up on the beach or drifting over a fringing reef, the occupants fishing for the evening meal.
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