To Humble Or Not To Humble!

Papua New Guinea has been a long time a gold mine for researchers. PNG’s diverse flora and fauna, complex cultures and natural beauty has been a mine indeed for researchers who decide to explore PNG. Many young graduates from other parts of the world, especially those wishing to pursue careers in linguistics and anthropology have gone on and hold imporant and influencal positions in their respective fields because of their early works in PNG. There are too many for me to list them.

There is one aspect of our culture that I want to discuss on this post and that is humbleness. Being humble and serving others is seen and regarded by some parts of PNG as a virture that is sought after. But in some parts of PNG (eg Enga – where I come from), humbleness is seen as a sign of weakness. This my own impression so some Engans have the right to disagree here. 

When I arrived in Japan in 2004, I had to attend classes on Japanese culture and life-style. One of the things which I learnt about the Japanese people is that humbleness is a beauty! And we had discussion on this particular issue and I talked a bit on PNG and compared Japan with PNG. What struck me was it really depends on the cultural context of the situation. For example in PNG, you rarely find Engans who are humble. They aggressively pursue what they want and on many occasions resort to violence to obtain it. Compare that with people from other parts of PNG and you find negotiating is a big part of their culture. And I have found some of my Japanese professors really good at negotiating. They may not like the other person but will try and accommodate them. This probably comes from the concept that “humbleness is a beauty” to the Japanese.

We Papua New Guineans must learn to be humble and serve others. Serving others and making others succeed is your own success. By helping others you are helping yourself. We have enough chiefs in PNG, what we need are little indians!


About rodney itaki

Medical doctor and public health specialist from Papua New Guinea.
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