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The late President Kabui’s family reunites after 9 years

Tomb of the late President Joseph Kabui
The tomb of late Bougainville President Joseph Kabui


ARAWA - It was in June 2008, whilst he was still in office, that Joseph Kabui, the founding president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, died.

Conflict immediately broke out over the burial place of the deceased between Kabui’s matrilineal family of Enamira Village in the Panguna District of central Bougainville and his widow and her four daughters from Tadolima Village in the Bana District of south Bougainville.

The friction developed because, to the Nasioi people, a deceased chief of a family must be buried in his original homeland amongst his family so the power and respect he had will flow down his family line.

This Nasioi belief however was not in line with what the public wanted during the funeral ceremony of the president. Many of them stood up to the concerned nieces of the president and said the casket was state property and the rightful owners should be his wife and daughters.

Only now has that conflict been resolved. On Saturday 21 October the argument was laid to rest in a small reconciliation ceremony beside President Kabui’s tomb at Tadolima village.

The confrontation erupted on the same day the president was pronounced dead at his official Hutjena residence in Buka in 2008.

It persisted as the president’s casket travelled throughout locations in PNG and in Bougainville and it went on for nine years during which there was no interaction between the two parties.

My mother Therese Pokamari and aunty Rositha Kabui reconcile
Leonard's mother Therese Pokaman and Rosita Kabui reconcile

“Me and my kids and their children were lost,” Kabui’s widow, Rosita Kabui, said. “On my side of the family we had nobody to lean on. Thus this reconciliation makes us whole and new again.

“My grandchildren now have someone who they will call grandfather. The family is now complete.”

For the late president’s Panguna family it was joy to visit the grave and meet their uncle’s widow and children.

“This reconciliation is for the good of our children,” said Theresa Pokamari, the late leader’s niece, who is my mother. “We act so as not to put a curse on our children and their future since what we old people do is what that the young face later in life.

“We need to have our children advance in education and be leaders of Bougainville as [Joseph Kabui] was in his lifetime.”

A little food was served to mark the family reconciliation and both sides said after the reconciliation tey will pursue the common good of a united family.


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