PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare has described the late Fijian Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, as iconic pillar of hope and strength in the South Pacific.
Last week, Sir Michael launched a book about the life of Sir Kamisese, titled Tuimacilai: A Life of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.
Sir Michael said he had deep respect for Sir Kamisese, as “the man represented everything that is good, noble and proper in a leader”.
Ratu Mara commanded respect not only in Fiji but abroad as well.
Sir Kamisese was 84 when he died in April 2004, and is considered the founding father of Fiji.
He was chief minister from 1967 to 1970, when Fiji gained its independence from the United Kingdom. And apart from a brief interruption in 1987, he was PM from 1970 to 1992.
He subsequently served as president from 1993 to 2000.
Sir Michael also described Sir Kamisese as a good friend and mentor.
“I do so also as a gesture of appreciation for the privilege Ratu Mara had afforded me to be counted among his friends.
“For me personally, Tui Nayau was my mentor who I have tried to emulate but will never equal.
“Whose counsel I have valued but have since missed and whose friendship I did not deserve but will always treasure,” he said.
Sir Michael concluded that no book could measure or tell the life of any great leader, such as Sir Kamisese, as there were many deeds that go unnoticed behind public eye.
“It would require many books to be written by many different people be,” he said.
But Sir Michael said “Tuimacilai, admirably assembled together a mosaic that brought out a picture of a man deeply steeped in culture and tradition, well educated, thrust into the responsibilities of leadership, more by circumstance than by choice”.