By ZACHERY PER
AN unsung selfless pioneer politician Sir Akepa Miakwe has left behind a hard-to-fill vacuum for future generations of Ungai-Bena district Eastern Highlands when he passed on last month.
Sir Miakwe died peacefully at around 10.30pm on Sept 20, 2020 at his Lahame home in Ungai-Bena, leaving many inspirational stories behind. Born in 1927, he was aged 93.
Notably, when he lost his Ungai-Bena seat in the 1982 general election he filed a successful election petition and the court ordered for a by-election but instead of re-contesting, he nominated another colourful Highlands politician, the late Sir Iambakey Okuk who had just lost his Chimbu Regional seat.
Okuk won the seat and held it for more than a year, when another petition was filed disputing his residential status in Unggai-Bena. Lady Karina Okuk hails from Sir Akepa’s Geletomo tribe in Bena.
Another by-election was ordered by the cour and by then Okuk had lived in the district for more than 12 months, thus qualifying to contest.
The late Sir Akepa again showered his blessings on Okuk who won the Ungai-Bena seat in that second by-election and served till he passed away in 1986 a year before the next general election.
The late knight again blessed and endorsed another Ungai-Bena young leader Benias Sabumei for the 1986 by-election. Sabumei won the seat and was in office for less than a year before the general election in 1987.
Sabumei retained the seat and served a full term until 1992 general election.
Besides being a vibrant politician pre-and-post-Independence, Sir Akepa demonstrated a selfless attitude that should lead to changes of mentality in 21st century. The hunger for power and fame is damaging our very foundation today.
Sir Akepa has demonstrated qualities of a selfless leader in the 80s. He was MP for Goroka from 1972 to 1977 when Goroka aand Unggai-Bena were one electorate.
When they were split in 1977, through an effort of late Sir Miakwe who was a member of Electoral Boundaries Commission, he became the founding MP for Unggai-Bena Open.
He was born at Segoya village in Lower Bena in 1927, educated up to grade three at Kabiufa Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) School in the 1930s.
He was appointed as one of the first members of the Goroka Local Level Government (LLG) council; he became president and looked after Goroka district that included Daulo, Goroka and Unggai-Bena.
During the term, with the help of the colonial administration they separated Daulo to be a separate district. Another member of the LLG Sir Sinake Giregire became the first MP for Daulo.
Sir Akepa then contested the Goroka Open seat in 1972 and unseated incumbent MP Sabumie Kofikai.
Sir Akepa was MP during the transition period from the old House of Assembly to today’s National Parliament. He was founding Minister for Correctional Services and Liquor Licensing from 1977 to 1982.
He then lost the seat in 1982 and successfully disputed the result and allowed late Sir Iambakey to contest the by-election.
During his reign, he had a hand in the setting up of a number of companies and corporate organisations including Goroka Show, Eastern Highlands Cooperative Society, Goroka Town Capital Authority, Talair airline and Eastern Highlands Savings and Loan Society. He was a director of Bena Development Corporation, Niugini Highlands Coffee, Namasu Coffee, a founding member of Gouna Centre, and member of the University of PNG Council.
In recognition of his distinguished services Sir Akepa, the Queen made him a knight of the British Empire (KBE). He was also made a Grand Companion of Logohu (GCL) in 2010.
“The shoes worn by the late Sir Akepa are hard for anyone to fill. I am deeply saddened and on behalf of my family, staff in the district, parliament and the people of Unggai-Bena ,convey sincere condolences to his immediate family members,” Unggai-Bena MP Benny Allen said.
“I owe him a lot, he supported me well and my thank you is not enough.”
Allen said his people of Unggai-Bena and Eastern Highlands were mourning the passing of a colourful pioneer selfless politician and paramount chief.
He said during his reign all the rural transport, health and education infrastructures were well-maintained and services did reach the people.
“The late Sir Akepa lived as a very colourful leader; he helped a lot of people who came across his life. He was openly transparent and corruption-free, he lived his life to the fullest.
“His passing is a great loss to us the people Geletomo tribe of Unggai-Bena, the rest of the district and Eastern Highlands,” Allen said.
Sir Akepa is survived by children Mary, Samson, Simon, Simeon, Grace, Robert, Silas, Margaret, Loisy, Danny, Benias, Kaleto and Felix. He also left behind 37 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.
He was laid to rest at Lahame, the new Ungai-Bena district headquarter site on Monday, Oct 12.
By ZACHERY PER