I MET Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare in 1960 while attending Talidig Junior High School in the north cost of Madang.
The school is now known as Talidig Primary School.
He was my teacher and a real father to me.
Sir Michael was a young man full of courage, determination and wisdom.
He was always there to help whoever had problems.
I can still remember how he treated us (Manam) boys with love and care.
Some of my friends during that time were Messack Lamang, Alois Kulu, Mathew Ribaga, Michael Tibong, Joseph Danam and others.
One morning, a local boy was attacked by a shark when he was swimming in the sea.
With the help of Sir Michael, the boy was brought quickly to the hospital for medical assistance.
Another time, a girl was attacked by a shark as well, unfortunately she died on the way to hospital.
Sir Michael was a loving and caring father.
He was regarded as a true leader to all Manam people living and working in the plantation at Talidig.
I knew him by the way he interacted with us, the students and surrounding communities.
We used to bring him local food and fruits such as galip, mangoes, pau and orange when we return back from school holidays.
Around that time, the Banana Bridge was under construction by Backlay Builders while the Bogia Highway wasn’t cleared yet.
Sir Michael left us and became a radio announcer in Wewak in 1965.
I followed him there on one of my holidays.
That time, Sir Michael started courting Lady Veronica. Her father worked as a cleaner in the hospital.
I was the one who always escorted him to go and look for his sweetheart at Mangrove Compound.
One time, Lady Veronica’s family chased us away.
Later on, we were happy that they accepted Sir Michael. In 1966, Sir Michael and Lady Veronica moved out of Wewak and went to Port Moresby.
Sir Michael secured a job with Information Extension Services.
That year, I was studying at the Papuan Medical College.
I didn’t lose contact with them, they were like my real parents.
I moved out in school campus and lived with them in a small house in Hohola while I attended the school.
I was also their daughter, Bertha’s, first baby sitter.
On behalf of my family, friends and my community (Kolang) in Madang, I really appreciate what Sir Michael has done for me, my colleagues and the nation.
They say it is a shame when leaders leave without accomplishing anything but that is not the case with you.
You have done more than enough.
Thank you so much.
I convey my deepest condolences to the immediate family members and relatives of late Sir Michael
Dr Jacob Dalali,