Cool heads prevail in PNG as carvings are returned
Gordon & Pat Johnston, former PNG missionaries, die in USA

Saksak mix: my lovely moms & the men they married


ON THE left is my mother Judy and on the right is my other mother, Elizabeth. Both are married to my dads.

These two different women never knew they would be growing old together, nor in their wildest dreams did they imagine they would marry my two dads. They never had the slightest clue of each other.

Those marriage decisions were made in completely different places and at entirely different times.

My mom, a breathtaking K-Mori from Kairimai village, Baimuru, in the Gulf Province, fell in love with a striking young gentleman originating from a Dagua on the west coast of East Sepik Province.

The gentleman was in his second year of teaching after graduating from Holy Trinity Teachers College at Mt Hagen in 1977.

My other mom, Elizabeth, fell in love with an accountant who rode around on a motorbike for New Britain Palm Oil Development, now NBPOL, and they became “the couple on the motorbike”. You wouldn’t have missed them if you were in the area in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Their two husbands, Alex Nara and Simeon Nara, are brothers.

They were amongst the first Sepiks to resettle in West New Britain in 1972 where they cut down huge trees to clear the forest and planted the first oil palm under the Land Settlement Scheme.

As for my mom, West New Britain has become her home and her husband’s people are her family.

Thoughts of Kairimai, sweet mangrove crabs and the tasty ‘poi’ are still with her even though she is many miles away.

There are little tales of moonlight and dry weather with warm fires in every hut and meat for everyone.

It is only when the smiling face of her mother, my grandmother, crosses her mind that tears run down even as she still smiles.

This is when the handsome Daguan digs deep to buy her two tickets, never scared that she will not return as she has proven herself all these years.

Maybe it’s a little touch of a Purari magic but I still do not understand her way of preparing traditional Sepik ‘nangu’ where the soup drives you to lick your plate.

She has given her whole heart to the man she loves and she travels with him to teach and serve some of the many remote schools in West New Britain.

My other dad, Simeon Nara, left NBPOL and took his motorbike as well as my mom Elizabeth, an original beauty from Yangoru in East Sepik, and they travelled to Sonoma Adventist College where he undertook theological studies and graduated in early 1981 as a missionary in the Seventh Day Adventist church.

With my mother Elizabeth by his side, they served many rural people across West New Britain before he entered Pacific Adventist University in 1991 and graduated as a Bachelor of Theology in 1995.

He then continued with a masters at Avondale College in Australia while serving various high profile posts within the church hierarchy.

He is now a retired pastor and still rides his bike with his original beauty Elizabeth on the pillion and they reside amongst the grassy plateaux and cool mountain breezes of the Markham Valley, all their children, three girls and two boys, grown up.

As for my mom Judy, she now lives with her teacher boy at Haella Primary School in West New Britain, where he is head teacher.

She has six grown up children of which I am the first and six grandchildren. Judy spends most of her time around the house making unnecessary noise with her grandchildren.

God Bless you both my mothers as you continue to love your two mangi Daguans.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Philip Fitzpatrick

This is very important, we need the exact recipe for 'nangu'. My memory buds have been agitating ever since reading this nice story.

Peter Kranz

Great story Alexander. I share a bit of your experience, having three PNG mums and PNG friends at Avondale, two of whom are an Australian expat missionary woman married to a refugee from West Papua who was raised in the Sepik.

And I think the cooking secret is coconut milk, ginger and garlic, plus a few chillis and some lime juice. Makes just about anything yummy.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)