ARAWA – This town will come alive late this week as the former capital commemorates Bougainville Day on Friday 15 June.
The initiative is largely a communal effort with backing by local business houses and the Kieta District Administration.
The celebrations are aimed at encouraging economic recovery, reconciliation and celebrating Bougainville’s achievements on its path to next year’s referendum and the ultimate political goal of independence.
Tonny Moera, chairman of the Central Bougainville Events Committee, said in previous years there was not much emphasis on celebrations.
“Bougainville Day was just another public holiday in Arawa and most parts of Bougainville despite the date being a key aspect of the autonomous arrangement we enjoy today,” Moera said.
Moera, who is also Kieta District executive manager, said previous celebrations in Arawa were low key and observed only by government officials in an almost sombre mood.
“This event should be a celebration of Bougainville’s successful journey to self-determination while paying homage to the courage and resilience of our leaders,” he said.
“It must also serve as a means of educating younger Bougainvilleans on the significance of our political history from the tumultuous years of the Bougainville crisis to the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“Our children must learn to appreciate the sacrifices that were made and they must have a sense of pride in our motherland, Bougainville.”
This year’s Bougainville Day in Arawa seeks to engage not just Central Bougainvilleans but visitors from other districts and Papua New Guinea.
The events committee has already planned and successfully fundraised for the event which will include live bands, gospel groups, traditional dancers and even include reconciliations and referendum awareness.
Schools in the district will also participate with floats, children’s’ traditional dances, a referendum song competition and other events.
There will also be stalls and many fundraising activities for the general public to take part in.
All the activities will focus on promoting unity and the appreciation of Bougainville’s political journey in preparation for the referendum in 2019.