Ketar Natis, Killings and Two Grieving Kinsmen

Crocodile Prize PNG

By (Theresa) Tess Gizoria

Dad and I very rarely sit and chat about little nothings. But on the occasions when I patiently listen to him retelling stories from his childhood, I more often than naught, am transported back in time to a place I can’t picture, with traditional practices and social norms I cannot reconcile with my present reality.

On one of those rare occasions, I learnt about the practise of ‘ketar natis’.

Growing up, dad would tell me how most problems were made right through ‘ketar natis’, a practise similar to, but a little unlike the ‘pay-back killings’ of societies in the highlands of PNG. An eye-for-aneye sort of practise.

The figurative description of the term ketar natis would be equivalent to the pain of a splinter embedded under a fingernail.

Even if the splinter were removed the sore would prove rather painful and could take forever to heal…

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#68 Tok Pisin Poetry: Where Have All The Bataflais Gone?

Where Have All The Bataflais Gone?

Lo’ citi* ol igat olgeta samting
Lo’ citi ol i no sot lo wanpla samting

Igat rot, igat wara, igat kapa haus
Igat lo, igat stoa,igat haus sik na skul

Pulim ol man meri i lusim bus giraun ikam
Pulim ol ikam sindaun lo’ bikples taun
Na lusim ol samting blo’ ples giraun
Lo wokim citi bai igat olgeta samting

Na citi bai i nonap sot lo wanpla samting
Bai olgeta mangalim** nating nating
Olsem na citi ol givim nem “Beautiful”
Tasol “Beautful” blo’ em i woklo’ lus nating nating

Ol lip blo’ diwai hat lo’ holim strong
Pundaun wan wan lo antap i kam daun
Namel lo’ ol, em ol i pundaun tu
Wanpla wing, narapla wing, na liklik binatang tu

Samting blo giraun blo’ pulim ai blo’ ol lain
I lus nating na nau nogat moa binatang.
Citi igat, na igat, na igat, planti samting
Tasol lo tete mi hat lo painim wanpla bataflai

 

by Hans Lee

*Citi- Tok Pisin spelling is Siti

**Mangalim – really desire or envy something

 

Commentary:

In this poem, I really tried to ask a question plainly ‘Where have the bataflais gone?’ Something I learned early on in my writing journey was that a piece did not start on the first line. It starts with the title. Similar to performance poetry, a piece starts when the performer takes the stage, so in that vein, it carries forth the reasoning that a written poem should start at the first word.

The rest of the poem explores this idea of the urban environmental malaise under the pressures of urbanisation. I decided to use Tok Pisin to localise the content. More to that, I use the ideas of leaving the village (ples) to come to the urban environment (bikples taun) as part in the third stanza. I did that because the first two stanza’s are there to give the reader an idea of what these internal rural-urban migrants envisage the city (citi) to be.

I’ve littered many techniques in this poem, some of which I am still working to perfect. If you can, try spot the stanza where I introduce this idea of the unbalancing seesaw. That’s what I call the point in the poem or story where an idea is introduced that unbalances the poem.

Note I have used citi here instead of the accurate siti to give my non-Tok Pisin readers a hint about the context of the poem.

#63: Walking the Tropics is not at all pleasant.

If you haven’t already, you should follow the Guardian’s Cities’ series talking about all things cities – a fantastic resource for spreading thoughtful insights about our urban built environment.

A recent article from the series that caught my attention featured a compilation of stories about people walking their neighbourhoods in their respective cities. As a self confessed urbanist, I revelled in these stories, reminiscing about the days I used to walk all the time.

Continue reading “#63: Walking the Tropics is not at all pleasant.”