Kokoda movie poor
IN the days leading up to ANZAC day, the focus of the Australian media had been on the Kokoda Track, which has become an Australian icon and a popular destination for Australians.
At the same time, a movie about the Kokoda campaign was released in cinemas around Australia to concide with the celebrations.
I have had the opportunity to watch excerpts of this movie and I must admit I was disappointed with what I saw.
Like all other documentaries, books and films I have watched and read about Kokoda, this latest movie only highlights and pays homage to Australian heroism. It failed to accentuate the invaluable contribution of indigenous forces, notably the Papuan infantry battalion which helped to stem the Japanese advances on Port Moresby.
A noted historian once said that “history is full of lies”, and I believe those responsible for creating awareness about the track have been guilty of ommitting important aspects of the histroy of Kokoda to fit their own paradigm.
The notion of the Aussie battler and Australian beliefs are now symbol which epitomise Kokoda and was created by a one-eyed patriotic Australian media. While the intentions may be noble and justified, we simply cannot ignore the invaluable contribution of indigenous forces, otherwise the history of Kokoda would be full of lies.
Kokoda should not only be seen as a symbol of Australian heroism, a celebration of Australian larrikinism and mateship, but also as a symbol of Papua New Guinean character forged by indigenous war carriers and immortalised in a grateful digger’s letter, titled “fuzzy wuzzy angels”, celebrating the compassion and kindness of Papuan war carriers.
The Kokoda campaign would not have been won by the Australians if it were not for the support of the Papuan infantry battalion (PIB) and war carriers who provided and maintained critical logistics supply lines and medical evacuation lines and conducted long-range reconnaissance patrols. Our men developed a fierce reputation for their jungle warfare skills and gained the respect of Japanese forces who referred to them as the “green shadows”.
Like war carriers, PIB soldiers worked under extreme and adverse circumstances with little or no recognition.
I believe the citations for bravery by our men were often watered down to look inferior to Australian soldiers. Much of the bravery and gallantry of the PIB was never documented and may never be fully appreciated by future generations of Papua New Guineans.
I hope one day Papua New Guineans will awaken and familiarise themselves with this nation’s distinguised past and the symbols that personify the Papua New Guineans’ character and fighting spirit.
It is important for PNG to write its own history as part of building our identity. The path to nationhood was not forged on the slope of Independence Hill in Waigani but in the rugged foothills of Kokoda along the Owen Stanley Range.
We owe it to our forefathers to honour their legacy and to acquaint ourselves with the symbols exemplified by them and to extol those same virtures of love and compassion and kindness and respect to our mothers, daughters and those infected with HIV/AIDS to embrace the fighting spirit of our forefathers to fight the modern day evils of rape, incest, sexual abuse, stigmatisation, lawlessness and corruption.
It would be a fitting tribute to their legacy if we followed their example to make PNG a better and safer place to live.
Proud Papua New Guinean,