By PISAI GUMAR
ONE day in the late 60s, a headmaster at Erap Primary School in Morobe made a decision not to enroll a young child of mixed race when his mother brought him to the school. That young lad has grown up and is now the MP for Huon Gulf.
“Because I have white skin colour the head teacher was reluctant to enroll me,” Ross Seymour said.
“My widowed mum and I sat under the rain tree with my little pot of lunch throughout the day anxiously waiting for head teacher’s yes or no answer.”
The next morning, Seymour and his mother took a ride from their Zifasing village (at 40-Mile) to Muya Primary School, which is tucked away between Munum and Yalu villages – hence the name Muya. There, they had better luck and Seymour started school.
But life was tough for him and his mother. As a young man, he quickly learnt the attributes that would take him into the world of business. He also went into animal husbandry, raising cattle, pigs and chickens.
But that was a long time ago and that mixed-race kid has made good. Born and bred at Zifasing, Seymour is a typical villager. He chews one buai after another, likes to sleep beside a fireplace and wakes up to a cup of tea with marifri, a local banana that’s popular in the Markham area.
He is a second-term politician, having retained his Huon Gulf seat for the Pangu Pati following the national election which ended in July.
For the Huon Gulf people, Seymour has been a leader who has brought change, albeit small, to his people. His simple lifestyle and kinship and affinity with his people have earned him a chiefly title that no other in Wampar has been accorded for a very long time. Wampar, Salamaua and Morobe post make up Huon Gulf district.
Wampar elders in June this year made Seymour Gar, a chieftaincy title that is awarded to a fearless leader who is respected, fair and works to unite his people. The word ‘gar’ is locally derived from ‘gara weran’, meaning the highly esteemed person.
It was on Sunday, June 18, that the crown of gar was set upon Seymour’s head. He was handed a traditional warrior’s spear, a bayonet and a shield with the phrase ‘Eza Gab Zifasing, Gar Hon Ross Seymour’ inscribed on it.
In Tok Pisin this means, em ples blo mi Zifasing, bikpela man (Hon Ross Seymour, decision maker, warrior and conqueror and peacemaker).
Seymour trekked the 68 wards in his three sub-districts during his time as MP in his former term to meet his people and see what they needed.
During the elections just past, Watut villagers and locals from communities in the upstream Rumu river contributed K20,000 towards Seymour’s election expenses.
Before winning the seat in the 2012 elections, the seat was held for 20 years by people from the Morobe Post area.
Among the younger generation of Wampar, no-one has seen anyone made a gar.
Zifasing councilor Waiya Langim simplified it this way: Gar means enemies to none and friend to all.
He applauded Seymour for bringing at least one project to each of the 68 wards in Huon Gulf electorate.
The crowning of gar coincided with the opening of Garfaring Elementary School’s double classroom, witnessed by district education manager Moses Wanga and standard officer Sam Geseng.
A total of K4.568 million has been invested in elementary and primary schools in the district in the past five years.
By PISAI GUMAR