Flight of Jungle Eagle – An Autobiography of Wake Goi, Francis Nii Publications, 2020, 168 pages, ISBN: 9798640309997, US$21.50 from Amazon.com
TUMBY BAY – This work is notable for a number of reasons including that it was the last book that was edited and published by Francis Nii, who most of our readers will know died on Sunday.
Francis worked on the book while he was ill, managing to complete it during a respite in his battle for survival. A battle he ultimately lost.
The other noteworthy aspect, as Francis says in his introduction, is that Wake Goi’s is an inspirational story, demonstrating how anyone can work their way upwards from the most humble of beginnings.
And if anyone knew something about inspiration and battling adversity it was Francis Nii.
Wake Goi is a well-known figure in the health services field in Jiwaka and Eastern Highlands provinces.
He is currently in his second term as the member for Jimi Open and is minister for community development, youth and religion in Papua New Guinea’s national government.
This is the first volume in a series of three and covers his time as a child growing up in the Jimi Valley through to his first election to parliament in 2007.
Unusually for a politician, this biography is honest and frank, highlighting his successes but also his struggles and failures.
Wake Goi was born in 1968, which was a time of great change in Papua New Guinea, particularly in the remote Jimi region.
His journey from what is euphemistically called the Stone Age through to modernity was quite literal.
His challenges began with the death of his mother and his grandmother when he was quite young and the struggle of his father, Goi, to bring him up alone.
In the remote mountains where he lived, family life revolved around gardening and hunting and many children could not access formal education.
This first volume is essentially the story of how Wake Goi overcame these drawbacks and succeeded in creating a new and rewarding life for himself.
Like many young men in those days the changes in PNG could be distracting and Wake experienced many ups and downs of his own making.
He is happy to admit he wasn’t the most dedicated of students and let many opportunities slip through his fingers.
However, after several false starts he knuckled down and in 1990 succeeded in completing a diploma at the Nazarene College of Nursing at Kudjip in the Western Highlands.
In fact he was sitting on the banks of the Mants River operating a card gambling scam with one of his friends when he received the news he had narrowly won a place at the college through the default of another applicant.
After several bush postings in both Jiwaka and Eastern Highlands, Wake Goi began work with the Evangelical Brotherhood Church Health Service.
Prior to his election to parliament in 2007 he had worked his way up to the position of general secretary.
It is unusual indeed to read a warts and all account of his life by a serving politician. That’s not something you encounter every day anywhere in the world.
And Wake Goi could not have found a more empathetic or understanding editor and publisher for this enterprise than the late Francis Nii.
PNG Attitude is seeking donations from readers to enable us to publish a collection of the best essays, poetry, articles and commentary by the late Francis Nii – author, mentor, publisher and one of the outstanding literary figures Papua New Guinea has produced.
Bank transfers large or small (or middle sized) can be made to:
National Australia Bank