Marape's promises are like thunder without rain

David Lepi

In the world of literature, George Orwell’s "Animal Farm" stands out as a stark allegory of political dynamics. Readers with a penchant for political narratives will find themselves revisiting the tale, particularly for its colorful cast of characters, including Moses, the raven. This pet of Mr. Jones the farmer overthrown by his own animals was an intriguing storyteller. He spoke of a utopian place called "Sugarcandy Mountain," where, he claimed, the burdens of labor and suffering would eventually dissolve into a lifetime of bliss.

As the narrative progresses, the times grow tougher for the animals working tirelessly on the farm. It is during these periods that Moses would abscond to distant lands, only to return when the questions about his tales waned. Upon return, he'd weave his stories anew, promising an idyllic future free from oppression and hunger.

In an odd parallel, despite the animals' recognition of Moses's fabrications, they still allowed him to stay on the farm, indulging in his idleness and even granting him a daily ration of beer. The worse their plight became, the more comforting his lies seemed a momentary solace from their grueling reality.

This brings us to a contemporary figure reminiscent of Moses: Prime Minister James Marape of Papua New Guinea. Marape, with the demeanor of a devout church elder and the voice of a choir leader, has been accused of peddling illusions, much like Moses, wrapped in the cloak of religious fervor. He stands accused of feeding the people with a diet of promises as insubstantial as whispers, presenting visions of a "Rich Black Christian Nation" a modern iteration of Sugarcandy Mountain.

Invoking the sentiment of Karl Marx, who famously described religion as the opium of the masses, the comparison between Moses's fables and Marape's narratives becomes starkly evident. Both sets of promises act as a narcotic to the weary spirits of the populace, in this case, the people of Papua New Guinea.

Marape's tenure has been peppered with grand declarations: A record-shattering budget, visions of trillion-dollar investments, and lavish promises of aid from nations including China, the USA, and even fictional Wakanda. There are proclamations of independence linked to the Pogera mine, assurances of short-term sacrifices yielding long-term benefits, imminent Covid-19 reports, sweeping arrests tied to the UBS Loan Commission of Inquiry, and substantial funding directed at law enforcement and transportation—all amidst the overarching program of Connect PNG, which critics argue is but a veneer for cronyism.

In a reflection of "Animal Farm," the populace, like the trusting pigs, lowers their defenses, embracing hope over skepticism, longing for the elusive Sugarcandy Mountain to materialize. This analogy serves as a cautionary reminder of the power of words and the vulnerability of hope when it is manipulated by those in positions of influence.


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