culture Somare

The Grand Chief and the wisdom he left for everyone

I have not written anything  on the blog since our arrival in Wewak the  Sunday before last.  In fact, it has been overwhelming. The demonstration of sorrow and the pride is something to behold here in Wewak and all over Papua New Guinea.

I  stayed away from the live stream that we produced out of Port Moresby. I did watch parts of it. But it has been hard to watch a full session without becoming emotional and emotion is  something that has been in abundance over the last 16 days.  

There are a thousand and one narratives embedded in the life of  the man we call Michael Somare. 

How could I do justice to all of it?

Do I write about the history? Do I write about the stories people are telling about him? Do I write about his band of brothers who helped him in the early years? 

Sir Michael was, himself,  a storyteller.

He didn’t just tell stories with words.  The narratives were woven into his existence  and in the relationships he built throughout his life.  From them, came  the stories that have been given new life with his passing.

I went to speak to Sir Pita Lus, his closest friend and the man who, in Papua New Guinean terms, carried the spear ahead of the Chief.  He encouraged Michael Somare to run for office. He told me about the old days about how he had  told his very reluctant friend that he would be Prime Minister.  In Drekikir,  Sir Pita Lus told his constituents that his friend Michael Somare would run for East Sepik Regional.

Sir Pita Lus and his relationship with Sir Michael is a chapter that hasn’t yet been written.  It needs to be written.  It is up to some young proud Papua New Guinean to write about this colorful old fella.

A chief builds alliances. But what are alliances? They are relationships. How are they transmitted? Through stories.  Sir Michael built alliances from which stories were told.

When I went to the  provincial haus krai in Wewak, there were  huge  piles of food. I have never seen so much food in my life.  Island communities of Mushu, Kadowar and Wewak brought bananas, saksak and pigs in honor of the grand chief.  They also have their stories to tell about Sir Michael.

The Mapriks came. Ambunti-Drekikir brought huge yams, pigs and two large crocodiles.  The Morobeans, the Manus, the Tolais, West Sepik, the Centrals.

In Port Moresby, people came from the 22 provinces…From  Bougainville, the Highlands, West Sepik and West Papua.  In Fiji, Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama sent his condolences as he read a eulogy. In Vanuatu, MSG members held a special service in honor of Sir Michael.  In Australia, parliamentarians stood in honor of Sir Michael Somare.

Our people  followed the Grand  chief to his resting place. The Madangs came on a boat. Others walked for days just to get to Wewak in time for the burial.

How did one man do that?  How did he unite 800 nations?  Because that is what we are. Each with our own language and our own system of government that existed for 60,000 years. Here was a man who said, ‘this is how we should go now and we need to unite and move forward.’

In generations past, what have our people looked for? How is one deemed worthy of a chieftaincy?

I said to someone today that the value of a Chief lies in his ability to fight for his people, to maintain peace and to unite everyone. In many of our cultures, a chief  has to demonstrate a set of skills above and beyond the rest.  He must be willing to sacrifice his life and dedicate himself to that  calling of leadership. He must have patience and the ability to forgive.

The value of the chief is seen both during his life and upon his passing when people come from all over to pay tribute.

For me, Sir Michael Somare, leaves wisdom and guidance – A part of it written into the Constitution and the National Goals and Directive Principles. For the other part, he showed us where to look.  It is found in our languages and in the wisdom of our ancestors held by our elders.

10 comments on “The Grand Chief and the wisdom he left for everyone

  1. Joros Sawi

    Thank you Scott…trupla wok u wokim stap! Putting it all in writing for generations, our generation, to come… That line “How did one man do that?” is so powerful… May we continue live in the legacy of the Great Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare!


  2. Regina Varaosi

    I just could not hold back my tears as I read this blog. Our Grand Chief was such a great man. Unique in his own caliber. His huge ability to forgive and lead with respect and dignity always gave me an inspiration. Thank you Mr Waide. Please write a book about him and all his fellow brothers who helped him in the early years. The criticisms that they faced, the shame they bared, the hardships hey went through just to birth us this beautiful united country. And include all the stories other people are telling too. In PNG, the pacific and possibly the world too.

    Many thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bats scot,pls naispla stories blo u,write a book about him,it would be better for all Papua New Guinean today and tomorrow’s generation. Thankyou Scott.


  4. Thank you so much Scott, I loved reading this particular blog. It brings so much sadness but at the same time a feeling of hope and perseverance as a young Papua New Guinean. You’ve done well. I would love to see a full interview of Sir Pita Lus.


  5. Robert Aisi

    Thank you Scott for another well written piece!

    A country’s History has to be recorded by its own sons and daughters. Too much of our History has been written by well intentioned non-Papua New Guineans. You have been recording PNG’s History “on the run” with eloquence and, I would add, great reverence and respect!

    I am so grateful for your contribution in keeping Great Grand Chief’s Legacy alive. The many thousands of stories from all of us, from all parts of PNG, about our interactions and thoughts about Great Grand Chief will be your “firewood” to keep your pen busy to keep the flames of his Legacy continuing to stay lit.

    It was a couple of highly charged emotional weeks! That we all become ONE again “United, Bung Wantaim, Ahebou” at his passing would please our Great Grand Chief.

    While the tributes from many who knew and worked with Great Grand Chief were fitting and in many cases historically important, I could not help but deeply appreciate the most significant expressions, through art, music, poetry and just genuine expressions of grief were from our younger generations (note plural) of Papua New Guineans. I and my generation being of the pre- and immediate post-Independence era when the Great Grand Chief, like a well trained elite athlete, was at his very peak, inspiring us by his leadership as PNG achieved one milestone after another, both nationally and internationally.

    Indeed we Papua New Guineans were most fortunate to have had a great, thoughtful, selfless and well respected Leader!

    Many He Rest in Eternal Peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sharon Tumonde

    Thank you Scot
    You have summed up all that Grand Chief has done. Well done grand chief. May you RIEP


  7. Such an emotion-filled couple of weeks – and we will continue to mourn our Grand Chief for a long time still. He was a name and person we all knew from the moment we could speak and think by ourselves. A part of all our lives. I’m so thankful that we had the infrastructure in place for technology to work, planes to fly and all that was made possible so that the whole funeral procession from the haus krai to the burial to be watched and seen by the many! Being away from PNG during this time, already heartbreaking so watching online brought the feeling of closeness to everything happening back home.
    Thank you EMTV! and to you all the media crew and technical and thank you Grand Chief for where we are now with development because of your dream and vision for Papua New Guinea 😥 There’s a proverb: Proverbs 20:30 The version I like states: It takes a painful experience to make us change our ways. Grand Chief death is a great national-felt painful experience – we needed a solemn help us – redirect us, our ways our thinking as a people, as a nation to come back to that vision. We all now have a part to play. Thank you and supporting other comments – we look forward to the books and writings that will come from all of this – and it has to be inbuilt into our education system. Definitely, there is so much local talent in all forms and truly appreciated our diverse culture even more. Much of it was portrayed over the two weeks. Blessings.


  8. Dennilah Ningakun

    If you decide to write a book, those that are still alive will be more than happy to share their original piece of stories.


  9. Nicole Aquila

    Please write a book. I’d be delighted to buy the first edition.. Thank you Scott


  10. 1It is now April, and I still get chills reading this.


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