Aiyahuuuuuu!

Every year when March comes along, the DWU Community prepares to host one of its major events – the DWU Graduation Ceremony! This year was the first time the annual event was held during the weekday – on Friday and it didn’t disappoint. All the graduands were in their full regalia and every did their best to dress and look well.

I guess I have attended a few of these DWU graduations and seem to know the general layout and proceedings of the day. Everyone would be seated and listen to speeches, wait their turn and then receive their certificates – whatever level that may be. A few graduated with Diplomas, Masters and even one person received a Doctoral degree but I believe the majority were Bachelor level graduands. I guess graduations are also times when emotions are high as well. Many feel elated, triumphant and even relieved after completing a number of years of schooling and more importantly, overcoming financial difficulties associated with getting a university qualification.

On attending a few of the graduation events at DWU, I am beginning to observe a particular phenomenon that is happening and becoming more prevalent each year – it is the way people express their jubilation or triumph or satisfaction when their family, or relative’s name is called by the Master or Mistress of Ceremony. There is this shout by an individual in among the crowd of onlookers, most often by a female, that is heard although out the entire arena.

Academic staff getting ready to enter the graduation arena
Academics being led into the arena by a dancing group
The graduands are seated with their full academic regalia
Parents, relatives, supporters, family and friends gather to witness the occassion
I did a a YouTube Short with some videos and photos I took during the ceremony.
Academic staff and invited guests speak to the students
After the graduation, two students meet with their former academic staff – Mr. Samson Papapu who taught in the Health Management and Systems Development Department
Some of the many students who graduated today

This shout: ‘Aiyahuuuuuuu’ which I believed is predominantly from the Chimbu province of PNG (someone can correct me on this) and from a female is often seen as something symbolic rather than an expression. In my mind, I often feel this shout is often felt deep within a person but due to a lack of verbal elicitation of that feeling, it just rolls out of the mouth like a cross between a ‘sigh’ and a ‘rainbow’. Does that make sense? Well, that’s how I feel about that shout.

When this is shouted by someone in the crowd, there is no discrimination or taunts or shushing. People keep quiet and listen to this shout as it echoes throughout the floor of the ceremony . It is expected and I believe, appreciated. Why do I say appreciated? Because when you listen to that shout ‘Aiyahuuuuuu’ it feels like someone is saying: ‘After all these years…after all the hard work…after all the financial difficulties, my child or son or daughter has finally made it. They have graduated from University.” During that shout, the voice quivers and people in the crowd feel the weight of the emotion of the person who has shouted. I’m beginning to think that this is a unique situation that happens only in PNG school graduations these days.

Other onlookers or supporters of graduating students may not shout ‘Aiyahuuuuuuu’ but they still make some noise to let others know about how they feel about their family member or relative who is walking up to receive his or her certificate on stage. I have heard: ‘Em sister blong mi ya!’ and ‘Yes em tasol yah’ and even ‘Pawa-fuuulll yah!’ which shares the same sort of emotion as the ‘Aiyahuuuuu’ but not as poignant. While these shouts of expression are welcomed, I often feel they fall along the lines of making, those whose names are being called to be seen as ‘individuals’ whereas the ‘Ayahuuuu’ is more like an announcement to others of someone ‘overcoming’ challenges and the weight being lifted off their shoulders.

So the next time you hear a lady among the graduation crowd shouting ‘Aiyahuuuuu’ just be quiet, appreciate the moment and enjoy the graduation ceremony!

Newspapers in PNG can reduce sports gambling among young people

Gambling in many countries is often thought of as a form of entertainment, characterized by betting or wagering something valuable or financial such as money (WHO, 2024). The furthest I have delved into gambling may have been playing Bingo when I was in the village over the Christmas holidays. But believe me when I say that gambling has risen in Papua New Guinea especially among vulnerable groups such as young people (ABC Pacific, 2023).

Young people in PNG may take up online gambling using their hard earn cash and loose

Casino gambling came into the scene through the passing by PNG Parliament of the Gaming Control Bill 2007 that allows casinos and internet gambling in PNG (Rayel et al., 2016). Over the years, as internet became easily accessible, Papua New Guineans began to take up online gambling with some ordinary punters loosing up to K1000 (US$300) in a year on Australian National Rugby League betting application NRL 365 (ABC Pacific, 2023). In Australia, around 80,000 to 160,000 Australians experience problem or addictive gambling which includes a range of negative social outcomes such as criminality, housing instability, relationship problems, financial difficulties such as indebtedness, and domestic violence (Miller et al., 2014). This might be happening in PNG too though there is little research being done on this. In Australia, younger men are most at risk of falling into gambling because they are more exposed to sports betting normalisation processes such advertising during NRL games on TV or on social media platforms during sports updates (Seal et al., 2022).

However, the media can be an avenue to call out addictive gambling especially newspapers which can help vulnerable groups such as young people. Firstly, Miller et al, noted that newspapers should frame stories around gambling by including the voices of problem gamblers. While these problem gamblers might be reluctant to share their stories, at least the story begins the debate around reducing the addictive nature of gambling. Journalists have a responsibility to reduce gambling in our communities by finding problem gamblers or reformed gamblers and doing their stories. Secondly, another way to tackle problem gambling is to combat it with advertising. There is already evidence that advertising leads to increased risk of gambling (McGrane et al., 2023) so newspapers must turn this around by using advertisements again to reduce addictive gambling patterns by providing strategies such as setting personal limits for betting (ABC Pacific, 2023). Who will foot the advertising bill? Miller et al (2014), pointed out that there must be collaboration between the media and health organizations to develop ways to financially back advertising against gambling.

Newspapers in our country such as the Post Courier and The National can play a huge role in reducing gambling among vulnerable groups such as young people.

So personally, I believe that if you have never tried online gambling, do not try it as it can become addictive and lead to social and health problems for you down the line. Even if you already began sports betting, seek to set a limit for bets or never bet more than you can lose. The PNG Government must also see this as a rising problem and find ways to address this before many more social and health problems arise.

References

ABC Pacific. (2023). Online sports betting is on the rise in Papua New Guinea, but experts warn of risks associated with gambling. https://www.abc.net.au/pacific/programs/pacificbeat/png-gambling/102006846

McGrane, E., Wardle, H., Clowes, M., Blank, L., Pryce, R., Field, M., Sharpe, C., & Goyder, E. (2023). What is the evidence that advertising policies could have an impact on gambling-related harms? A systematic umbrella review of the literature. Public Health, 215, 124–130. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2022.11.019

Miller, H. E., Thomas, S. L., Robinson, P., & Daube, M. (2014). How the causes, consequences and solutions for problem gambling are reported in Australian newspapers: A qualitative content analysis. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 38(6), 529–535. https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12251

Rayel, J., Manohar, P., Atu, I., & Raka, R. (2016). Gambling Tourism in PNG- A Grace or a Curse?: Implications of the Proposed Casino Gambling as Perceived by the Community. https://devpolicy.org/Events/2016/PNG-Update/4c_Rayel.pdf

Seal, E., Cardak, B. A., Nicholson, M., Donaldson, A., O’Halloran, P., Randle, E., & Staley, K. (2022). The Gambling Behaviour and Attitudes to Sports Betting of Sports Fans. In Journal of Gambling Studies (Vol. 38, Issue 4). Springer US. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-021-10101-7

WHO. (2024). Addictive Behaiours: Overview. Addictive Behaviours. https://www.who.int/health-topics/addictive-behaviour#tab=tab_1