DANNY GONOL | Edited from an Open Letter
MT HAGEN – James Marape rose to the top of our country nearing the 44th anniversary of its independence.
He boldly announced he would consider himself a failure if by 2029 he had not made Papua New Guinea the richest black Christian nation on earth.
The world’s social and economic indicators puts our country in the Third World. Some say it is a developing country. Others say it is a poor country. Still others say it is a rich underdeveloped country.
Our country does not top the world in commerce, in military strength, in politics. But it tops the world in the number of languages our eight million people speak. What unity in diversity.
The last time l was in the land down under, a white man was heard speaking. "This man comes from the nation of a thousand tribes,” he said, pointing at me.
I was at ease with this. He said to me, “Your country is like no other. You are a nation of nations.”
Oh, what a great feeling of patriotism flowed through me. I shed tears of joy.
James Marape is forced to inherit a decision made 20 years ago. Our country's unity is to be tested in Bougainville. He appointed a very dignified Papua New Guinean statesman to deal with the issue, Dr Puka Temu.
Come October, Bougainville goes to the referendum with two choices put to the people:
- Greater Autonomy
Bougainville already has greater autonomy. Momis wants nothing less than independence. Oh Marape, Oh Temu, pleasè handle this issue with care. You could be putting in motion the beginning of the end of a country called Papua New Guinea.
After Bougainville goes, stand ready to conduct referendums for New Ireland and New Britain. Then move to the mainland and grant the wishes of Papua Besena. Once done, stand ready to handle the uprisings in the Momase and the Highlands.
Oh Bougainville, my Bougainville, I'm sorry I caused you pain over the years. You want to depart from me. You can vote to leave me, but remember l will not let you go. Never.
Some say, I came 50,000 years ago. Others say, l was born in 1975. I will now fly my arrow another 50,000 miles.
Marape, if I were in your position, I would apply my brakes and re-look at the whole issue.
I would rather become someone like Donald Trump and make tough decisions. Decisions that can hurt but are good for the sake of national unity.
I oppose Bougainville independence. I support greater autonomy - an effective state government as those in Australia.
Danny Gonol is a human rights lawyer practising in Mt Hagen. You can contact him on 7917 3894 or at [email protected]