By MIRIAM ZARRIGA
ONE of the men who stood with the late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare wants the country to turn back to God and look after themselves and each other with love and respect.
Sir Pita Lus, the man who decided on the date of Independence in 1974, told a crowd in Maprik, East Sepik, that ongoing tribal conflicts and conflicts among family and friends should be stopped.
“We didn’t get independence for you to fight each other, we didn’t get independence for you all to hate each other; we got it because we wanted the best for this country,” he said.
“If you have turned away from our Christian values that this country is built on, turn back to God, who remains the father of this nation.”
“Stop the tribal fights, we became a government because we wanted you all to have a good life, a settled life.”
“To all of you who turned up to celebrate this day, my wife and I are happy to join you all, may God continue to bless and guide you.
“I want to tell you all, where ever you came from, either from Nuku, Dreikikier, Angoram or Wewak, you all have come to be one.”
“Fighting will not take you anywhere, do not fight.
“In the eyes of God, I am here to tell you to listen to me and sit down and respect each other.
“This is our country, God is constant and always faithful.”
As Sir Pita spoke, he lifted his hands and blessed the country.
The date of independence is said to be Sir Pita’s idea, it’s his birthday as well. According to Sir Pita, Sir Michael and others were still unsure of the date of Independence.
He banged the table and exclaimed: “Let me pick the date of our independence.”
Sir Pita quietly told the group of men that Sept 16, 1975, was a good date.
Once they all agreed, Sir Pita laughingly told everyone that Sept 16 was in fact his birthday.
The story remains a favourite for many who had heard it then.
Sir Pita then sat quietly and looked over the crowd, gifts were presented.
He quietly accepted the gifts and accolades given by Maprik MP John Simon, East Sepik Governor Allan Bird and Prime Minister James Marape.
Simon told the crowd that the Maprik District Hospital would now be renamed Sir Pita Lus Memorial Hospital.
“A foundation has been started and will provide education to students of Maprik, it will be called Sir Pita Lus Foundation and will allow for education to be achieved by everyone; the district has put forward K100,000,” he said.
Marape also announced a K1 million contribution to the foundation.
The foundation will allow students from the districts to continue their education throughout the country.
Sir Pita now retires from public life.
“Independence was for you all, keep on working to making this country great,” he said.
By MIRIAM ZARRIGA