SIXTY years ago, Mao Zedong declared the beginning of the People’s Republic of China.
For years, it has been rumoured and gossiped that Mao visited Angoram in 1966.
The Angoram Club’s visitors’ book did bear the name of the illustrious chairman – a record that, alas, is no longer with us, being cast to the wind with many other relics and vestiges of that fine institution at its demise after Independence.
Mao’s visit is a question among many others: Was there a Maoist cell in Angoram?
Did the postmaster in Angoram at the time alert Special Branch to a letter posted from Angoram to the chairman?
Was a prominent expatriate resident contemplating marriage to the daughter of a Nationalist Chinese Army general?
Did a patrol officer at Angoram join the Special Branch, the intelligence unit of colonial PNG, some years after the supposed visit?
Was the health of Mao proposed and drunk to in the Angoram Club?
Did a senior administrative officer in Angoram have a connection with the Hong Kong police, and was he a person of interest to the People’s Republic of China?
Did an entrepreneur and fine art dealer of Scottish lineage present to Mao a priceless piece of cave sculpture from the Karawari River area – an artefact that can now be seen in China?
Was Mao’s love of peasant rustic women pandered to by a fair Kambaramba lady of the night?
A final question is, was Mao borne on the crest of a tidal wave up the Sepik River and deposited at Angoram in 1966?
A known fact is, that at the time, the malaria control officer at Angoram was the proud owner of the Little Red Book”, Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, and was apt to freely quote from this work when in his cups at the club.
Donald Bosgard, the then venerable president of the Angoram Club, was reported as saying that any visiting head of State would be accorded the respect of his or her office should a visit be made to the club.
It is recorded that Mao was most impressed with Norm Liddle’s rendition of The Court of King Caractacus on the accordion, and he even invited him to visit China, and play with the Military Band of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
Mao was particularly interested in Bob Mackie’s fool-proof method of venereal disease prevention.
As Bob said to Mao, “it always works”.
We get back to the basic question, did Mao visit Angoram?
Of course he did.
You may as well ask me, did George Mallory summit Everest?
Of course he did.
It is even said that the chairman sent Michael Somare a letter about his visit to Angoram.
* David Wall is a former long-time resident of East Sepik.