Sir Michael’s closest political ally and friend led the New Ireland delegation as it paid its last respects on Thursday night.
New Irelanders came with the East and West New Britain communities.
Sir Julius Chan was Deputy Prime Minister in the first government. He is a Chief of his own people. But didn’t take center stage on Thursday night as expected. His name was not on the list as guests spoke about Sir Michael’s achievements.
His staff expressed that he is unlikely to make any public statements in the next few days.
But Sir Julius was central in the custom wok in the middle of the program.
New Ireland leaders who performed the rites explained the significance of the gifts Sir Julius handed over to Sir Michael’s family – the first a ceremonial spear for New Ireland’s recognition at the end of his journey as Grand Chief…
They also presented Shell money from 10 local level governments and masks symbolizing the highest honors in New Ireland society.
Last year, Sir Michael visited New Ireland. It was his last official engagement. For New Irelanders, it was an honor that could not be forgotten.
For the East New Britain community their claim over the Grand Chief began at birth. They honored him on Thursday. Sir Michael Thomas ToPalangat, Somare. One of their own, born in Rapinik, East New Britain. The highest chief of the land. The pathfinder. The peacemaker.
The richness of the New Guinea Islands was brought to the fore. From the Western half of New Britain, a procession singing a funeral song marking the passing of a chief brought gifts for the father of the nation. Pandanus mats, taro, pigs and shell money for Sir Michael’s burial.
Even In death, Sir Michael Somare has brought together clans tribes and families and brought out the richness of 800 nations.