David’s journey from Upper Sepik River to becoming a judge


Y OUNG David Abiri Susame had dreamt of becoming a lawyer one day.
And because he has always believed that with God nothing is impossible, today he has gone a rung higher to be an acting judge of the National Court.
David, 59, is from the Yuat local level government of Angoram district in East Sepik. His village is in the upper Sepik River, one of the remotest parts of the province. It is close to the border with Enga.
It is so remote that access to education and other government services then was difficult.
“Children in my days were not able to go to school.”
The only community school children from Yuat could go to was a Catholic Mission-run school at Biwat. To reach it, children had to travel by canoe down the Sepik River. The distance was too much for many children who opted to skip school.
His parents understood the value of education and decided to move the family to Madang.
“My parents know that education can help me and my siblings excel in life.”
In 1965, the family moved to Madang. His father worked in a tobacco factory to support the family.
In 1969, young David went through kindergarten and primary school. He attended the Holy Spirit Primary School up to 1974. In 1975, he was selected to do Grade Seven at the Madang Catholic High School. It was the same year PNG gained independence.
“I witnessed it and took part in the celebrations.”
In 1978, he completed Grade 10 and was selected to do Grade 11 at the Kerevat National High school in East New Britain. But the catholic missionaries asked him to stay back in Madang and continue his schooling there.
The Madang Catholic High School was run by the SVD missionaries. In 1978, it was converted to become the Divine Word Institute (later University).
“The priests and lay brothers convinced me to stay back. So I did not go to Kerevat NHS. Divine Word offered two diploma programmes: Business Studies and Communication Arts (Journalism). I decided to take up Communication Arts.” He graduated with a Diploma in Journalism in 1981 and offered a job at Word Publishing where he worked for a year. He remembers writing articles mostly on Sports.
“I then joined the Catholic radio station in Goroka. I worked with the organisation for a couple of years and left because I still wanted to become a lawyer.”
He took up an opportunity to undergo military training at the Igam Barracks in Lae for 12 months.
Then the Magisterial Services advertised diploma courses for people wanting to become magistrates. David did not hesitate to apply.

“ With God nothing is impossible. During those years, He richly blessed me. I am now an acting judge and will serve the people with all my heart.”

He started the magisterial service course in 1986 at the University of PNG and completed it in 1987.
In 1988, he was posted to the Madang District Court as a junior magistrate. He later served in other provinces.
David was posted to his home province of East Sepik in 2003. In 2013 he was promoted to become the senior provincial magistrate. His next target was the judiciary.
In Dec 2017, he was appointed an acting judge of the National Court. In January last year, he was posted to Kokopo in East New Britain as the resident judge.
“As public servants, we are here to give service to the people. Every decision I make in court is for the people who deserve a fair and honest judgement from judges, magistrates and lawyers.”
Justice Susame is married with seven children. Four are now working and three still in school.
He loves where he is now and thanks God for helping him through his journey.
“With God nothing is impossible. During those years, He richly blessed me. I am now an acting judge and will serve the people with all my heart.”
What a journey for the man from a remote village in the upper Sepik River.

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