It’s the “National Day of Repentance” in PNG


“Repentance” / Jessie T. Ponce Photography / August 2015

Papua New Guinea, 26 August 2015: The whole nation observes the uniquely PNGean “National Day of Repentance” today. Offices are closed, classes are suspended, and churches in this predominantly Christian nation are busy with prayer ceremonies and other activities in observance of this day.

Established on 15 August 2011 by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, the origin of this holiday is unclear.  The announcement came only eleven days before the first Repentance Day was to be celebrated and it is said that It was made a public holiday at the request of “a group of churches”, which had initially submitted the request to O’Neill’s predecessor Sam Abal, before the latter was ousted in a motion of no confidence.  On a previous year’s commemoration of this day, the parliament made a big gesture of dismantling and publicly burning a large totem pole and other ‘pagan’ symbols which adorned the parliament building for some time, discretely sending a message that the nation cannot move forward if it does not repent from its pagan and other un-Christian practices and beliefs.

Despite its ambiguity, I find it nice to think that a special day was dedicated to acknowledge and repent from sins as a nation. Perhaps corrupt politicians and government executives in other nations could also lead in confessing and repenting for their sins to God and country as a way to move towards national reconciliation and moral transformation.

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