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Athabasca University

Mission-based Periodicals

The Christian missions in Papua and New Guinea were responsible for an impressive number of newspapers, newsletters, and journals. This website focuses on periodicals that consciously focused on developing print culture for information, education, and entertainment.

The periodicals whose content is included in this section form a small part of the publications for which Glen Bays was responsible during his three tours in Papua New Guinea. As Director of the Creative Training Centre (CTC), Bays helped his journalism students form a union CWAMEL (Christian Writers Association of Melanesia) as well as writers’ clubs for union members. CWAMEL was means to publish “a journal containing articles of help and encouragement to writers, maintain a manuscript counseling and placement service, and help in getting education materials to those studying writing methods at home” (PNGW 8[1972]:19). This journal was Precept of which a sample issue is included here. Bays also instituted a literary journal for his CTC students: Nobonob Nius, several issues of which are included on this website. Students who attended writing workshops submitted their work to New Voices, an anthology of texts from the workshops. A sample of these anthologies is also included on this website.

In the main, the periodicals instituted by Glen Bays were well-founded; some persist to this day. Along with Precept (which was an English-language journal), Bays published Singaut Strong in Pidgin (1 [1972]). This journal was taken over by the United Church, along with Precept, when Bays left in 1973. On his second tour (1979-1981), Bays established a pastoral journal in Pidgin, called Umben and a literary journal in English and Pidgin, called Toksave of which a sample is included here. On his third tour, Bays edited the Melanesian Institute’s scholarly publication, Point, and its flagship pastoral journal, Catalyst. By 1986, all the surviving journals mentioned here were edited by islanders.

The Summer Institute of Linguistics published throughout this period a literacy journal called READ: The Adult Literacy and Literature Magazine (1966- ). Its readers and contributors were largely missionaries. It is a remarkable diary of expatriate discussion about the challenges and strategies involved in reducing little known languages to print and encouraging indigenous peoples to read and write. Many articles dedicated to developing print culture in PNG appear in Special Issue 2 (1976). 

The 1970 establishment by the Society of the Divine Word (SDV) of Pidgin newspaper, Wantok was an important development in the colony’s encounter with print culture. Originally a fortnightly, and now a weekly, Wantok functions as a forum for Pidgin writing. The newspaper has published hundreds of Melanesian legends and stories, poems and letters-to-the-editor. Under the leadership of Kevin Walcot, the newspaper was entirely indigenized by 1986 with a paid readership of 20,000 and an estimated 160,000 actual readership (Walcot, 1984).

Updated October 13 2016 by Library Services