ALPHONSE M HUVI
DEVARE, BOUGAINVILLE - I was in the garden planting aibika last Wednesday when my sister approached and asked if I had heard the news.
When told me that Bougainvillean actor Albert Toro MBE had died, I was shocked and stared at her in disbelief.
My heart sank as I reflected on what Albert had contributed to Bougainville and Papua New Guinea and how he had mentored some of us. The tears fell from my eyes.
I had met the veteran actor, co-director, scriptwriter and central character of the 1984 film ‘Tukana- Husait I Asua’ [‘Tukana, Who’s To Blame’] in 2015.
The film, billed as a comedy-drama, tells the story of a university drop out who returns to his village in Buka, drifting into bad company and becoming alienated from his parents and village life with tragic results.
Devare High School had invited Albert to give a speech to students about the importance of films in Bougainville and Papua New Guinea.
At the time, I was typing the manuscript for the Devare Adventist High School Anthology so I showed him a few pages. From then he started giving ideas on how to go about finishing the book and having it published.
When the Anthology was eventually published in March this year, I had 10 free copies to hand out, of course one of these went to my mentor, Albert Toro.
In his speech he encouraged students to take up creative writing and the school invited him for a second time as a guest of honour to its tenth graduation last year.
His encouragement was critical and challenging. He had a great sense of humour.
In addition to the feature film which made him famous in Papua New Guinea, over his life Albert mentored many people and they each have a story to tell about him.
He did so much apart from that famous movie. He wrote and produced radio dramas like ‘Sugar Cane Days’ and ‘Kunai Street’. He also produced TV series like ‘Warriors in Transit’ and stage plays like ‘A Step Further’.
He contributed to awareness building for the recent referendum through some short video clips. He also composed and produced the song ‘Bogenvil Kwin Meri’.
Albert will be missed in parliament as member of the Taonita Teop Constituency.
A recent article was written on how he came to write the script for ‘Tukana- Husait I Asua?’ When he looked at the first draft of the article, he jokingly said, “Tell them what they need to know”.
Albert Toro left this world peacefully on the eve of the referendum results being declared.
He is gone and never to be forgotten.