East Sepik Governor Allan Bird share with GYNNIE KERO one of his many moments with the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare
FIRST year after becoming Governor, I was always aggression on the floor.
One time I didn’t know papa (late Sir Michael Somare) was sitting in the Speakers Gallery. And that was the session where ‘mi bin rough tumas’ (showing aggression).
East Sepik Governor Allan Bird could not recall what made him so aggressive that day.
“As we (MPs) were coming out, Angoram MP (Salio Waipo) came over and told me ‘hey, papa sidaun antap’ (papa is in the gallery).
And Bird thought, oh shit, I did the wrong thing.
Afterwards, Sir Michael went and waited at the Opposition conference room in Parliament during lunch.
“I spied and when I saw papa in the room, I escaped to my office. “Everyone went in for lunch, he looked around and went hey where’s my governor?
Somebody came knocked on my door and said ‘Papa painim yu” (Sir Michael is looking for you).
I felt like a school kid who was being pulled out by the principal.
Very slowly I sneaked into the conference room where everybody was having lunch.
I wasn’t even invisible when he shouted ‘hey governor, come! I want to shake your hands.
Patting my shoulders he said ‘that’s what I want. Every time you go in there, make sure you give them hell.’
I felt so relieved as earlier I thought I was in trouble with papa.
Sir Michael owned that chair (East Sepik Governor) for 49 years and wanted his successor to be vocal on issues as he was back in the days.
Another moment that stood out for me was after becoming Governor in 2017.
The provincial affairs was in total disarray. Funds allegedly misappropriated and so forth. So I got to work, trying to fix things.
One time I was parked at Boram airport. Waiting to fly out. And he was also trying to fly out.
Someone came and told me papa wants to see you.
He looked at me. Smiled.
“Governor, the road doesn’t have potholes. You are doing a good job. That’s why you’re the governor. Me, I was the prime minister. So I left those jobs (fixing) for you.
Sir Michael had his way of saying things. Genuine things.
Very soon he will be laid to rest at his home town.
It was our dear papa’s wish that he be laid to rest on Kreer Heights.
He started preparing this place for himself and beloved mama Veronica since 2009.
Overlooking section 55 of Kreer Heights, is a specular view of the Wewak harbour and the outer Muschu and Kairiru islands.
This is where the teacher, radio announcer, Prime Minister and master architecture will be laid after almost 60 years of service.
He will watch the sun rise from the Murik Lakes and set in Aitape.
Sir Michael will be laid to rest at home with his ancestors.
This is a Melanesian desire to lay in your own land.
The entire country is a monument to his effort.
I was born in Rabaul on April 9 1936, one of the first children from Karau (Murik Lakes) to be born in a hospital, he wrote in his book ‘Sana’.
Had his family been at home that time, his mother would have taken to the haus karim, the traditional type of maternity home and given birth with help from some elderly women.
She would have to stay there for four months before presenting him to his father.
But Sir Michael’s father was a policeman living far from home in the Gazelle Peninsula and so he was born in Rapidik hospital.
Young Sir Michael spent his first six years in Rabaul. He picked up kuanua, the language of the Tolai people along the way.
His father Ludwig Sana Somare received his training as a policeman in Rabaul and served on numerous patrols until his retirement in 1947.
As late grand chief wrote in the Sana: “My father is still well remembered by the Tolais. Whenever I go there people speak of my father and they accept me as the son of Somare. Ever since those days I have had a special relationship with the Tolais.
“I did not spend as much time with my father as other sons in the village did with theirs. When I was only six years old we had been separated by the war. My father had returned to Rabaul, but I was adopted by uncle Saub and stayed in the village. By the time he returned to Murik my school years had begun. My life took me away to Wewak and Dregerhafen, to Sogeri and to Port Moresby. In spite of this separation my father always remained an inspiration to me. I was always proud to have a father who was able to use his talents to good advantages even though he had had no formal education.
I learnt many things from my father. Perhaps the most important of all was what he called ‘Sana’s peacemaking magic’.