On the 19th I went back to Panguna. In the morning the day was cloudy again like the last time I took the trip so I thought it will be the same: rain all day in Arawa and Panguna. I went to the bus stop and waited for the bus, round about 8:30am the 25 seater bus came and I signalled the driver pointing up to the mountains which means are you going to Panguna. He called me over and I jumped in, when we arrived in Panguna the weather was fine, I went straight to Moses Pipiro, the resident Mekamui Commander. I chatted with him for some time and he took me around his setup at the rundown 3 story building. He told me to film his men and women who were panning gold at the same building.
Later I went down to where the mini market is. I asked the women who were selling their goods if I could take their pictures but they were shy. Out came one of the woman and I said tampara mata in our mothers language she said tampara in reply. I chatted with her for sometime than I asked her the very question about re-opening the mine. She looked at me and asked: where are you from and are you here to talk about the re-opening of the mine. She told me that she is the landowner there and she doesn’t want the mine re-opened. She looked very cross at me till I explained to her who I am and why I am there and if she could tell me on the camera what she was telling me. She agreed, but said she is not dressed up; she was ready to go to the garden when I caught up with her. She told me lets go up to my store where my husband is looking after our store, located on the side of the old Panguna market. I told her there is no need to dress up: you are okay, so on the way to her store she picked a few beautiful flowers and put them in her hair.
Magi Monona told me that BCL and big mining operations are no longer needed and for BCL to return is not the answer. She stated again the same strong message which others voiced out that they have no land to move to. If they were moved to other places which are different clans land and if they were kicked out from there, by the clan who owns the land, where would they go?
When asked about the money, the loyalty the company gave, she said when the company was in operation was K40.00 per month, which is peanuts but the destruction they caused in that one month was very, very big compared to the money they gave us. Now we earn up to K1000.00 in a day or week when we pan for gold without much destruction to our land.
She told me that we the Panguna landowners are divided but those who want the mine re-opened are only a few and they don’t care for the land and the future generations. They only want money, handouts and don’t want to sweat their guts out like we are doing. I asked Magi what will happen if those who want the mine re-opened sign any agreement. She told me there will be bloodshed, another war.
I finished the interview with her and went over to the top of the mine pit and took some footage there. After one year 3 months since my last visit to the mine site there are more trees growing. Magi said that they want the hole to be grown with bushes again though it will not be like in the old days where they had gardens here and hunted animals. Another bus came by and I jumped on it. I told the driver to stop at Sipatako road. I had to see my boys who are playing volleyball at the school bazzar.
Another man from Dapera, Panguna dropped off with me and while crossing the swing bridge I asked him about the Panguna issue. First he said it will depend on the leaders and what they say. But when I closely questioned him, as he is from the mine area, he told me that if there will be a better benefit than last time it will re-open but if there are no better benefits for the people, he didn’t think the mine will be re-opened.