A tribute to a great man, Narokobi

Letters, Normal

Like many who came to know Bernard Narokobi, I have been thinking and reflecting what he had done in the last few days.
He was a great person and his death is a great loss to PNG.
I had the opportunity to see him for the last time on Feb 27 and 28 when he attended the right relationships workshop of the Catholic church at St Joseph’s International Catholic College.
He was the director of the national committee on right relationships in ministry, a body within the church which inquires into complaints of sexual abuse against priests, religious and church workers in general.
On Feb 28, as five of us were commissioned as assessors in a small ceremony officiated by Bishop Gilles Cote of Kuinga diocese, Mr Narokobi wept.
I wondered why he cried.
Was he crying for us, the young people, accepting responsibilities to take on the challenges facing the church today?
Was he crying for the church in general?
Was he crying for the people and PNG?
Knowing Mr Narokobi as a dreamer, visionary, philosopher, lawyer, judge, intellect, political leader and a devoted family man, I could image that he was crying for all of the above and everything.
When my son Moses asked me which PNG leader he should write for his school project at Salvation Army Primary, I told him to write about bubu Bernard Narokobi.
I first met Mr Narokobi when I started my law studies at the University of Papua New Guinea.
I did not know him personally then but I was deeply immersed in his ideologies and his dream world of Melanesia by reading just about his writings and books and later when he became judge, his judgments.
Any student of law and philosophy, reason and ideology would be touched, inspired and moved by both his written and spoken words.
His poetic writings and eloquent philosophical arguments were always powerful and persuasive.
In my third year, I enrolled at his Melanesian philosophy course as an elective extra-curriculum subject.
I remembered his answers to one of his critics against Melanesian philosophy that how can there be a “Melanesian way” in a country and region of many different cultures and languages.
His answer was quite simple and yet quite difficult to grasp by the critics – “that (of many cultures and languages) in itself is the Melanesian way”.
When he was Justice minister and attorney-general during 1988-1992, we formed the St Thomas More Catholic Lawyers Association with him as our chairman.
Mr Narokobi’s health took a turn for the worse after the death of his wife. Despite that, he continued to work with the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission, Legal Training Institute and church not because he needed the money but because of his love for his country.
He died while serving his country. 
That is the mark of a great man and a father of Papua New Guinea.
M’no wawen, Mr Narokobi, may you rest in the peace.
You are a true Papua New Guinean, champion of the Melanesian way, constitutional architect and a founding father of PNG.
While he is no longer with us physically, his words and works will remain with us and continue to inspire and guide us.


Paul Harricknen
Port Moresby