“With tears, I say: Rest in peace, Papa.” So lamented Prime Minister James Marape on behalf of a nation grateful to Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, the man everyone calls the “Father of the Nation”, on his passing last Friday.
Marape received a text from the doctor at around 12.10am to inform him of Sir Michael’s death.
“The great man was rested. God rested him from the pain and toils of life. There is a season for everything, a time to born and a time to die as the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:2,” Marape said.
Marape said the nation honored Sir Michael.
“Our nation honors this great leader, the founding and longest serving prime minister of our country,” he said.
“I appeal to citizens and residents (to observe) a week of silence, peace and calm as we pay respect to this one person who our country owes much to.
“He is unmatched by anyone of us who come after him. He deserves our unified respect now at his passing, and forever into the future as a nation.”
Marape conveyed his sincere condolences to the Somare family.
“To Lady Veronica, Betha, Sana, Arthur, Dulciana and Junior, all grandchildren and the tribal family and the people of East Sepik, we thank you for allowing this giant of a man to be our national father.
“I thank the family too for allowing me to spend some quite moments with him a few days ago, which I now see as a privilege of the highest order.
“His words linger. He is universally loved in our country. May his memory bind our nation still. Long live his memory.”
Marape said he would be incharge of the funeral arrangements.
“I will personally preside over this period of national mourning. Our flags all over the country and overseas missions are to be flown (at half-mast) until we formally come out of mourning,” he said.
“Our nation enters our mourning period until further announcements.”
Tributes for Grand Chief: