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What’s written stays written & continues to inspire


I WAS greatly saddened to hear of the untimely passing of a dear friend of mine, George Yapao LlB, former head of the law faculty at the University of Papua New Guinea. He had resigned from the post when he suffered a stroke.

George, aged 54, was a gifted writer my immediate reaction when I learnt of his death was a feeling of great loss, and I wrote this final letter to my friend…..

Remember, George, we came up on the same flight to Wapenamanda recently? I had high hopes when you said you were on treatment. But I thank the Lord He has ended your suffering and taken you to His heavenly shores.

Remember I told you I would republish a poem you wrote in our UPNG Enga Students Association Yearbook when we were students at UPNG all those years ago?

Well, the collection of poems, essays, satire and short stories was published a few weeks ago and the Lord has taken you without you seeing a copy.

Remember the late Susan Balen, that bright Engan girl who was also a law student? I republished her short story in another book - a collection of short stories by Engans. Susan was our secretary/treasurer when you were president of our UPNG Enga Students Association. We were a good team, weren’t we my brother?

I miss you both. But what you wrote all those years ago will stay written and be an inspiration to future generations.

George, here is a single verse from your poem ‘All Change’:

“……You can’t rewind the clock
‘cos times change” they shout
Haste makes waste. Take a look fool
Take a look before that careless leap
          [UPNG Enga Students Association Yearbook, 1986]

And this is what you said George in the President’s message for that year:

‘’Yes, as sons of Engans, we have mobilised a team of warriors in the name of Enga Mioks, a rugby league team competing in the Highlands Rugby League at UPNG. We are determined to win this year under the capable hands of coach, Isaac Lupari and skipper and veteran, Steven Thomas.”

Thanks my brother, George Tapya Yapao, for the priceless words and times we spent together. May your soul rest in eternal peace.

I am one of many people who hold the strong view that what we write now will stay written and our words will inspire future generations.

And that’s why I re-established the Enga Writers Association this year to encourage more people living in the province to write.

In 1985, I wrote to Dr Elton Brash, who was the vice chancellor at the University of Papua New Guinea, to seek his help in publishing the UPNG Enga Students Association Yearbook, the first of its kind on campus.

I liked publication of students’ yearbooks at St Paul’s Lutheran High School, Lae Technical College and Idubada Technical College, and I wanted to publish one for Enga students at UPNG when I was studying journalism and media.

Dr Brash kindly gave us a grant of K500. We raised the rest of the funds through contributions and movie shows at the main lecture theatre and our yearbooks published.

George, his deputy Larsen Nyeta, secretary Susan Balen and the rest of the executive, Anderson Kupa, the late Tand Waim and Tom Mark, helped me with the project. I still keep copies and can easily follow what my fellow Enga students at the time are doing today.

People like Hon Robert Ganim, Isaac Lupari, Dr Ken Ngagan, Fred Yakasa, Dr Timothy Pyaku, Dr Benedict Imbun, Dr Antonia Kumbia, Dr Samuel Joseph, Marai Pupaka, Fred Panda Punagi, Jonathan Praia and Thomas Pupun are some well known names in Papua New Guinea today.

I have also witnessed the sad passing of Aipo Capo, Tand Waim, Philip Kipakali, Jerry Maeokali LlB, Susan Balen LlB, Lundutta Betome, Peter Tum, Roy Kisau LlB and now George Yapao LlB.

We will all go where George and the others have gone but what we write today will remain.

When I caught up with George on that flight to Wapenamanda, we talked about those good times we enjoyed at UPNG. We felt the current Enga students should get their acts together and revive the Enga Students Association and perhaps publish yearbooks.

I told George I had already published a collection of short stories entitled Remember Me in which a story contributed by Susan Balen was included. I promised him a copy of another book I was working on, a collection of essays, first impression pieces, satire and poems in which the piece by him was included.

Tyson YapaoI promised to send a copy to him at Yapao Lawyers in Port Moresby. Now he has passed on, I will send it to his son, Tyson [pictured], also a lawyer.

George was a private lawyer and established his own firm and a lecturer and head of the UPNG Law Faculty when he had a stroke. At the time he was working on a thesis for his doctorate on mining and the effects it has on the environment and local communities.

When we met on the plane he told me there was no effective treatment for stroke in PNG and he was making regular trips to America to receive specialist treatment.

“Because of these treatments, you are able to see me today,” he smiled. “And I am able to walk again.”

But now, he is gone and I miss him.

But what he and Susan wrote in ‘Remember Me’ and ‘Can’t Sleep’ will remain for future generations to seek inspiration from.

Both books are available on Amazon or go to the Pukpuk Publications website here and here.


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Lindsay F Bond

One favourite in amusement venues of old, was a ‘hall of mirrors’, with its promise of visual delight in multitude reflections of each own self. In Daniel words one might find muse of another kind, by seeing through glaze of panes around each of us, the images of those less knowable till with writ of words, empathy encapsulates experiences shared, and are lastingly delightful.

Arnold Mundua

They say writings can make you smile, laugh, feel romantic,
dream, cry and angry. This piece is a moving one, Daniel. May George rest In eternal peace.

Francis Nii

I am saddened to hear of the passing of George Yapao. George and the late Tand Waim were my best friends at UPNG. May his soul rest in peace.

Arthur Williams

Daniel, it's good to see all you are doing to promote writing by Papua New Guineans. Keep up the good work.

I liked the title of this post. Often my daughters ask me what I am writing on my PC. Don't think I will ever write 'My Book' but eventually hit on the idea that if any writing was my own then I would make the file heading in CAPITALS.

So no matter what the topic if I see a file name in capitals it's one of mine. Have told the girls not to throw away my discs—floppy, CD and now USB after I die but keep them safe.

Who knows one day a great grandchild may be researching her ancestors and find some snippets of interest.

Noted during recent celebrations in the media the publications of quite a few humble letters from World War 1 military personnel often to their loved ones. In these letters you find the nitty gritty of real life experiences rather than the over view of great battles etc.

So right - write.

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