Discriminate against bigotry!

While waiting with a friend on Saturday morning we got chatting in Tok Pisin, and I was told that Papua New Guinea was a land with “no discrimination”. All people, my friend said, respected each other and got along.

A few things sprang to mind. Status of women and gender equity, for example. Prevalent anti-Chinese and anti-Malaysian attitudes (which to be fair often arise from the rotten conditions locals are offered by companies from these places, and the gut-wrenching destruction these companies inflict on traditional society and the environment… not that any of that is limited to Asian companies per se, but I digress). I thought of being called a waitman. I thought of regional rivalry and the mistrust a lot of coastal people have for Highlanders. I thought of violence and quaint traditions such as ‘tribal warfare’.

I normally do not like to contest such statements seeing as keeping relations smooth is pretty important to us. I couldn’t resist this however. I replied with ‘Mi tingting ol manmeri blong PNG em gutpela manmeri tru. Tasol mi tingting sampela manmeri blong Highlands ating no laik sampela manmeri blong Goilala district a’ (I think the people of PNG are very good people. But I think some people from the Highlands perhaps don’t like some people from the Goilala district, eh’).

This was I thought an uncontroversial choice of examples, with the Goilala of Central province having just as savage a reputation as some Highlanders. Nonetheless I expected to be contested, but wasn’t. Instead my friend, who I must remind you had moments before assert that PNG was a country without discrimination, said: ‘Mi no laikim manmeri blong Goilala. Mi tingting em gat planti bigotry.’ (I don’t like people from Goilala. I think they are very bigoted).

I didn’t push it.

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