By LARRY ANDREWS
JACOB Luke never completed Grade Eight in 1978 after he and fellow students staged a protest in school on the poor performance of some teachers.
He never regretted what they did which forced their expulsion. Ironically, it pushed him to work harder to pursue other opportunities that life had to offer.
Today, Jacob owns and operates the Mapai Transport Limited, one of the biggest trucking companies in Papua New Guinea with offices in New Zealand and Brisbane.
His father Luke Luwai is from the Pendend clan of the Tit tribe, Yakandak village. His mother Aipit Lyambian hails from the Pumain tribe of the Kinip clan of Kolopip village.
He was born Yakapus Solekuli. In Engan dialect, Solekuli means salt. His mother Aipit named him after her, as Aipit too is another word for salt in Enga.
But he changed his name to Jacob when he was in Grade Two in 1972. Jacob is the eldest of four children – three boys and a girl.
He began his education from 1969 to 1976 at the Kundis Lutheran Community School then to St Pauls Pausa High School in 1977 for Grade Seven and Grade Eight in 1978.
He began his trucking business in 1985, using one truck. Today, operating out of Lae and Mt Hagen, with plans to have a new depot in Goroka, he has 70 running on the Highlands Highway daily.
He was recently bestowed the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu for his services to the communities in the Highlands region and Morobe.
He has made big contributions to community projects, churches, health services, education services and sponsors sporting activities. He employs only locals.
He earlier this month visited the remote Snow Pass in Madang at the invitation of the Kumura Foundation Inc, a community-based organisation in Bundi. It was his first visit to the rugged Kundiawa-Gembogl region of Chimbu and to beautiful Bundi, called the land of a hundred mountains.
Jacob likes what the Kumura Foundation has been doing in the past eight years in serving the people of Bundi in the Central Bismarck Range. Led by director Vincent Kumura, they run the Gembogl Orphan Resource Centre where 31 orphans and disadvantaged children of Bundi are staying. He saw their makeshift dormitory, incomplete library, toilet and shower facilities.
He was inspired given that he had started something similar, although on a bigger scale, in his village in Enga.
Jacob soaked it in the beautiful scenery and clean air in Bundi.
“It is only a few hours from Kundiawa, but it feels like we are in a whole different world altogether. It is good to see this incredible side of PNG. I could have come here often, but the road condition need to be fixed.”
Jacob plans, with the assistance of the Kumura Foundation, to fix the four bridges between Gowe and Gembogl station in the Kundiawa-Gembogl district.
Kumura thanked Jacob on behalf of the people of Bundi and North Chimbu for his visit.
“It is a real blessing for us to have such a humble person and a legend with a great heart for this nation visit our part of the country.”
For big business bossman Jacob, he is always happy to help the people. Despite his status and success, it is just in his nature to help others.
By LARRY ANDREWS