TED Releases Manu’s Talk on Indigenous Guardianship

Emmanuel (Manu) Peni, a passionate human rights activist, Coordinator of Project Sepik, an NGO based in Wewak, was one of five Indigenous Guardians of planet earth, selected to speak at TED Salon in New York City, United States of America.  Thrive, was the theme for the event which was convened in partnership with Nia Tero in September 2022. The particular TED Talk sessions focussed on how Indigenous Guardianship of planet earth ensured indigenous communities thrived. TED will release the talk on the 12th of January 2023.

TED is a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less) and covers topics ranging from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world

Manu has been the spark behind the “Save the Sepik” campaign with Project Sepik and its collaborators, supporting the people of the Sepik River who continue to resist against a proposed Chinese/Australian Copper and Gold Mine for more than 6 years to date. Manu was invited to speak at TED because of his passionate eloquence of the deep Melanesian values of humans respecting and living in harmony with nature, something he affectionately expresses as knowledge passed on to him by his mother, Sukundiminja Tero,  in their Yatmul language.

Manu shared at TED, possible solutions to the escalating climate change with the wider international community by drawing from his experiences as a Melanesian and Papua New Guinean. The big idea he put forward was: modern ideas and technology aren’t always better to build a future. Understanding how indigenous practices work in harmony with modern science and technology could possibly unearth solutions to save the planet.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of several countries in the world with indigenous peoples, that is facing the direct impacts of climate change. PNG also has a library of traditional information and knowledge which can contribute towards finding solutions to climate change and other issues pertaining to modernity.

The influence of colonization has rapidly altered the way Papua New Guineans imagine a future, where foreign, modern ideas and practices work better.  This has resulted in the gradual loss of traditional, indigenous information and knowledge which have been the source for innovation, creativity and discoveries for over 50,000 years of sustainable development.

The video of Manu’s Talk to be released by TED is significant because it is a PNG voice petitioning the international community to pay attention to Melanesian indigenous wisdom. It is also a voice speaking to the younger Papua New Guineans to revere, gather and preserve their indigenous information and knowledge because these should offer some guidance and solutions for the current and future livelihoods.

“Pay attention, learn, try to understand, respect and heed indigenous guardianship”

That was the plea articulated by Manu towards the end of his Talk.  PNG has to be attentive to this appeal. Otherwise, all its cultural and traditional information and knowledge could be replaced with the pursuit of money and foreign ideals.   By then, PNG will be a nation adrift in perpetuity, searching for solutions to its growing pains, searching for identity, searching for a soul.

Manu’s Talk will be released on Thursday 12th January and will be available at http://go.ted.com/manupeni

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