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Grand Chief chose home for resting place

Independence Hill
Papua New Guinea's Kumul flag flutters over Independence Hill, where a number of former prime ministers are buried. Parliament House is in the middle distance. Sir Michael Somare knew whence he came and chose his home town, Wewak, as his final resting place

ALLAN BIRD MP
| Governor, East Sepik Province

Before his death Sir Michael Somare had stated his desire that his final resting place be at Kreer Heights in East Sepik rather than at Independence Hill next to Parliament House in Port Moresby, where other former prime ministers are buried. Lady Veronica Somare and his family have since confirmed Sir Michael's wish - KJ

WEWAK - Judging from social media discussions, the people of Papua New Guinea are now aware that it was our dear Papa’s wish that he be laid to rest on Kreer Heights where he has prepared a place for himself and Mama Veronica.

How do we best honour this great man who gave more than 60 years of life in our service?

Do we honour him by placing him at Independence Hill or do we honour him by respecting his final wish? What more can we ask of someone who gave his all in service of us?

As a teacher, as a radio announcer, as Independence Leader, as Chief Minister and Prime Minister, as Regional Member and as Governor, he served us.

His only selfish act is to ask us to allow him to be laid to rest at home with his ancestors.

This is very much a Melanesian desire to rest in your own land.

He had given his all to us. Politics is a 24 hour a day job and he did that for 49 years.

The entire country is a monument to his effort. We all are. Should he serve us in death as well? I say no.

Let him rest, let him rest at Kreer Heights and look down on that beautiful view of Wewak Harbour and Kairiru Island.

Let him watch the sun rise from Murik and set in Aitape.

There is nothing stopping the children and grandchildren of this country from visiting Papa at Kreer Heights, and they too can chew betel nut in the morning and see this magnificent view that gave him peace.

I believe that is what he wanted. To give us a different view of our country.

Our country is not Port Moresby, it’s not Parliament House. Our country is all of us.

From Kieta to Daru, from Vanimo to Lorengau and everywhere in between. Kreer Heights in Wewak is also Papua New Guinea.

Sir Michael left his home in Wewak to work in Waigani. It is only proper that he goes back home.

Perhaps in his departure lies his final message of unity. Perhaps by willing his body home he is asking all who are not Sepik to be bonded with Sepiks.

He visited every place in PNG. In a very Melanesian way, it is time for other Papua New Guineans to visit Papa Somare at his home.

This man saw a future others did not. I suspect in the second stage of our walk without him, he is daring us to dream again. To re-imagine our country.

He is after all the architect, and he never stopped talking about uniting this country. Perhaps in death he is laying the final stitch.

No country can ask any more of their citizens than we have asked of Grand Chief Sir Michael Tom Somare.

Let’s not ask him to give any more. He has given more than any of us ever will.

 It’s now our time to give back to him. This is not the time for us to be selfish.

I say let him have his wish, let him rest in a place he has chosen for himself and beloved Mama Veronica.

Bertha, Sana, Arthur, Dulciana and Michael Jnr should not have to ask us to release him, we should do so out of love for this great man.

I have appealed on Papa’s behalf to the Cabinet and I now appeal to all the children of Papua New Guinea: if you love him then please release him from his service and let him go home to rest.

Thank you all.

Comments

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Philip Kai Morre

The Grand Chief made the right decision to be buried at his home town to be close to his people.

It is fitting that Momase provinces and highlands provinces can go to pay their respects at Wewak, a trip which is much cheaper than Port Moresby.

Professor N.G. Patil

As Nelson Mandela of South Africa was buried at his ancestral village and has monuments in capital city and beyond, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare be buried in Wewak and have a national monument in NCD.

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