by GORETHY KENNETH
PAPUA New Guinea’s founding father Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare has revealed the significance of his choice of September 16 as Independence Day.
Sir Michael said from Wewak yesterday that the date symbolizes" major events that took place in the country to signal peace and stability following years of turmoil during World War II. He spoke about the sense of freedom being felt by Allied victories at Battle of the Coral Sea (May 4-8, 1942), the Battle of Milne Bay (August 25-September 7, 1942) and the surrender of the remnant of the Japanese Imperial Army at Cape Wom, near Wewak, to end the war on PNG soil on September 13, 1945.
“So September 16 was a day of peace so I chose the day of peace for Papua New Guinea to gain its Independence,” Sir Michael said last night as he prepared his last official speech for Independence Day, in Wewak before his retirement from national politics.
“When Sir Pita Lus (then Dreikikir electorate member) called me to come and join him in politics in 1967, I had no idea that on the 41st anniversary of our nationhood I would still be standing here,” Sir Michael recalls.
“I was just a teacher and broadcaster and Sir Pita was a confident young Sepik man who believed his people were equal in capacity to all human beings.
“He was not wrong! Mi tupla brukim bus na lidim ol pipol blong East Sepik na tu Papua Niugini i kam long rot we yumi no bin save long displa taim bai go we stret.”
Sir Michael is addressing the people of East Sepik tomorrow with his Independence Day message of farewell announcing his exit from politics after 48 years.
“The election will be complete this time next year and you will have a new regional member for East Sepik and a new Governor. I, therefore, take a low bow today and thank you all again for your support and undying trust in me for the last 48 years. I am not going anywhere, Sepik is my home and I will be around to watch our province progress under the new guard,” he said.
“Therefore, people of East Sepik, as I prepare to leave you it is important for you individually to understand that in life we all have a role to play.
“We are not here on a free trip to just breathe, sit around and wait for our lives to end. God has given us, including me, the power to change our own lives.
“Yes, we have our challenges, many developed and developing countries have challenges but be mindful that we are not too hard on ourselves. We must recognize the contributions of our own people. “I want to take this opportunity to call on people of this province to stand together, work hard and make this province one of the greatest provinces of this country.
“So happy Independence Papua New Guinea!”
|Cover of the Australian National Times Magazine in November 1973. Image: Keith Jackson & Friends - PNG Attitude|
Source: Post Courier