This day 52 years ago in Isuleilei, Fife Bay, Milne bay Province, my late brother, Dr Ray Anere, my cousin Dickson Kaisar and Lenden Gaganumore were playing the “Tiggy game” and running around the old colonial bungalow – “Big House.” I was tigged and everyone ran in all directions. I ran after Dickson, he was too fast. I ran after Lenden, he too was faster although he was shorter than I. I ran to Ray who was standing on the rail of the Big House, I tried tigging him and in due process of moving, he lost balance and fell 20 feet to the ground. He landed just an inch away from the stones mum placed for cooking. Ray fainted and was short of breath. Dickson, in a state of shock, ran to the garden and informed Mum and Dad. They all came rushing back and as I anticipated. I got the whipping from Dad and Mum. I was so hurt to see my brother being carried to Lebohai Hospital, Lawes College, Fife Bay.
I felt so bad and bruised on my ass.
When Uncle (Late) Dr Roy Kamkilakai arrived, I knew the worst of whipping was to come. I ran away and hid among the kunai grass and slept under a tree. Isuleilei was famous for Papuan Black Snakes. I dosed off to sleep under the “Mawaii” tree not realizing time had passed by so fast. A Papuan Black snake crawled up next to me coiled itself and slept. By 7.30 pm everyone began looking for me. They searched everywhere. Mum decided to check the “Mawaii Tree” and found me lying next to a black snake. She screamed for help. All came running and tried to kill the snake, but Dad said: “let it go.” The snake crawled away gracefully and disappeared among the kunai grass.
Mum hugged me and cried: “Son, I am so sorry, we would have lost your brother, and we can’t afford another.” While sobbing, I mumbled: “I am sorry mum, for what I did to Ray.” She said with blurry eyes: “He is okay under medical care and recovering…”
Years later, we both continued our education together at Fife Bay primary school as pioneers of the school and lived at Isuisu Village with our maternal uncles. Ray stayed with Uncle Eseroma Kamkilakai, and I stayed with Uncle Haig Kaiser. There were times, we would return from the seven mile walk from Fife Bay Primary School and back,during good and bad weather 24/5 for 365 days for eight years of primary education. Ray and I supported each other as loyal brothers. There were times when we return from school late, I would have no food. I would go climb a coconut tree and get fresh coconuts. Ray would come out of Uncle Eseroma’s house, wrap a sago in his laplap and walk down the beach to meet and give me the sago for dinner.
We continued from Fife Bay Primary School to Cameron High School (now Cameron Secondary . We had lost mum than in 1970, two weeks before our Grade Six National Exams. During mum’s funeral service, Ray and I did not attend school and that afternoon, the Head Master of Fife Bay Primary School, Mr Daniel Kennerghan walked all the way to Isuisu to talk to my Dad and uncles to release us and attend examination reviews and to sit for the exam in two weeks time. We did.
In 1971 we both entered Cameron High School together. Our Dad had lost mum and his entire Pastoral salary of AUD$5.00 per month was all used.
The time came for us to leave and farewell Isuisu village in 1970 for Cameron on the Suau LLG boat, MV Toroha captained by Uncle, Mr Joe Pokari (father of Mr Francis Pokari). When we got to the wharf at Alotau, the Cameron truck was there and students began unloading their belongings. I got my little red wooden suitcase (for Goodenough labourers). In it were two laplaps and a shirt – that was all I owned in the world. I was so proud of my red suitcase because it was painted “red.” Ray wasn’t so happy. My Dad had packed his two laplaps, one shirt in a biscuit carton. He was embarrassed and cried when he saw that other students had better suitcases. Dad had to carry his box.
At the time of departure from Cameron, My dad could only afford to give us both $5 dollars each. We had to convert that $5 into a meaningful life…and we did.
For the 4 years of education at Cameron High School, we would work for teachers and earn our little pay to sustain ourselves. In 1974 there was a review of school fee payments and those who had not paid for two or three years were asked to pay up or be terminated. I called Ray over and we both went to see the Principal, Mr Bill (William) Strang. He called us in and asked: “Do you two have anyone to help assist you pay off your school fees?”
I looked at Ray and he looked at me. I thought of my mum’s brother late Dr Roy Kamkilakai. I mentioned his name to the Principal. They contacted him as he was than the Medical Superintendent at Daru Hospital. He received a telex message and paid off the 4 years of school fees at Cameron. He rang the school and I spoke to him and these were his words: “David, why didn’t you let me know all these years? You almost got terminated from school due to non payment of school fees. Don’t worry, I paid it in full, now study hard, the both of you” I said “thank you Uncle, we will try our best.”
From Cameron, I went to UPNG while Ray went to Sogeri National High and completed 2 years secondary education. While at Sogeri, Ray had no pocket money so he went down to Konedobu where all the Suau boys were working as store keepers and so forth. During those times Suau people were famous for “cooks” and “store keepers.” Ray somehow fancied the idea of being a storekeeper so he worked for a week at Konedobu in a store. The news got to Uncle Roy. He drove over to the Konedobu Chinese shops and told Ray to leave. He got him to the house and gave him an ear bashing. Ray, responded..”Uncle, I am tired of eating tin fish.” Uncle laughed, and he began telling his life journey too from Isuisu to Fiji School of Medicine, London School of Tropical Medicine, Auckland University and as the first Papua New Guinean to enter John Hopkins Medical School, John Hopskins University, USA. Ray sat listening and was in tears -he felt inspired and lit up. The rest is history.
Ray entered UPNG in 1977 and and graduated in 1980 and an Honours Degree in 1981 with Distinction and continued to Australian National University, and than to Claremont Graduate School, University of California, USA and became the first Papua New Guinean ever to hold a PhD in Political Science as a FULLBRIGHT SCHOLAR. He came back and served at UPNG for 23 years before going onto NRI until his untimely departure in 2015. I supported him all the way and gave him the back up for studies as a brother who shared a same vision and destiny – academics.
In 1995 when I was on diplomatic tour of duty in Paris France, he reciprocated and encouraged me to do a Doctorate Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy. We sat long hours discussing and suggesting topics for research. I enrolled at the Superior Institute of International Relations and its Center for Diplomacy and Strategic Studies (CEDS), a College of The University of Sorbonne in Paris, France. I did four years of studies and traveled broadly for research and and compiled my doctoral paper on: HOW MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS CONTRIBUTE TO THE SOCIOECONOMIC AND POLITICAL INSTABILITY OF THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES; A CASE STUDY ON THE BOUGAINVILLE CRISIS, PAPUA NEW GUINEA. In 2002, I defended my doctoral theses and obtained a Summa Cum Laude (Highest Distinction) in the First Class Category. I was the first Papua New Guinean to ever hold a doctorate degree in International Relations and Diplomacy.
Today, I look back down the memory lane, and I say, thank you RAY, AGUTOI for supporting me. We have been true Brothers all the way through.
MAY YOU REST IN ETERNAL PEACE and GOD BLESS.