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Friday, 29 March 2013

The Day Kavarongnau went up in flames

Leonard Fong Roka

In 1988, when the government of Papua New Guinea was losing control of the anti-Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) and anti-PNG militancy around Central Bougainville, its last hope was its defence force.
Thus, their landing on Bougainville with full BCL backing was more with high expectation to eradicate the militants, as the 2001 class action launched in the United States against BCL did summarize in one of its claims that the BCL manager of the late 1980s and early 1990s… ‘encouraged the continuation of the blockade for the purposes of starving the bastards out’. Starving the Panguna rascals out was the hope.

But after arriving in May 1989, after a few days of setbacks, the government had its troops go ruthless with its Operations Commander on Bougainville, Colonel Leo Nuia ordering a  ‘shoot to kill’ order. Under this order, a few Bougainvillean women were raped and men killed; other men tortured and domesticated animals killed; homes torched and gardens looted.

On the lawn of Kavarongnau hamlet in the Tumpusiong Valley of Panguna, the eldest blood sister of the North Solomons provincial government premier, now late Joseph Kabui, Anna Taruito (my grandmother) and the rest of the extended family, had only one of their sons in the militancy that played a role of providing information to the family and rescuing family members when the PNG riot police raided.

My uncle David Perakai was always on the look-out for police and PNGDF patrols under the state of emergency that was declared on the 23 December 1989. My family members so often ignored the call to flee into safety because of the mercy of family properties: permanent houses, a retail shop, tavern, poultry and fish pond projects and vehicles.
Our hamlet had 12 houses—permanent and semi-permanent—that my grandmother was not willing to walk away from when majority of the family had fled away from the state of emergency. But with her last born sister they kept their presence.

In early 1989, our hamlet was raided without arms by rascals of the Panguna’ Kokore village claiming that our now late relative Joseph Kabui as premier of the North Solomons government was supporting the PNG government; they helped themselves with goods from relative Martin Miriori’s shops and walk back home (this two Bougainville figures are my grandmother’s little brothers).

The rest of our family went to leave high in the mountains of Onove; away from the main Panguna-Nagovis road that was used by the government’s abusive security forces.

As the unpredictable weeks went by, with regular security force threatening searches and arrivals, the calendar reached June of 1989 where my aunties who were students at Saint Mary’s Asitavi High School in the north of Central Bougainville, were about to come home for holidays.

To that my family members in hiding regularly came home or spent a night at Kavarongnau despite the creeping fear. They would sleep, whilst the David manned the entry points into our hamlet with his shotgun.

Since my Tumpusiong Valley was the first people into the creation and leadership of the militancy and protest marches, it received regular visits from the security forces. During this period also, there were killings of two New Guineans in the valley. Also the men from my home raided and attacked the mine employees and properties.

To this, the security forces set checkpoints at the Panguna waste dumps overlooking my Tumpusiong Valley below. Soon followed a sudden built up of troops that were observed from the distant hills by militant watchers amongst which were my uncle, David Perakai.

My family was expecting my aunties and had stocked food stuff when David arrived telling them that there was a built up of the PNG army troops before the valley late one afternoon. But, despite being in fear, the longing to welcome my aunties was keeping them immobile. Beside there were the properties and pigs to feed.

Thus they slept calmly for the night.

Early the next morning David left into the mountains where the militants were camped to monitor the situation across on the dumps of the Panguna mines. But he did not realize that the PNGDF were already entering the valley in a convoy of more than 10 BCL trucks.

Militants were not at all aware of the PNGDF convoy from the ridges for the valley was too deep and had ridges forking into it creating corners that lined the road all the way to Jaba where the BCL had a water pump station supplying water to the concentrator for ore processing.

The family spotted the convoy further away and stood relaxed thinking that it was bound for Orami or some other places. My grandmother was busy cooking breakfast of taro and had not watched the convoy downhill snailing along the lifeless tailing desert made for us by BCL.

Her little sister and her family were located on a corner of our hamlet that our feeder road actually enters the lawn.

With minutes they had forgotten about the convoy. Then they noticed that the heavy sound of trucks had slowed down at the junction of our feeder road and the highway. Thus one of them came out of the house-cook to peep but at the edge of the hamlet, there were already soldiers.

They were shocked with an infant whether to run or not when their dog began barking at them. But in seconds gunshots ended the angry dog’s life and my family darted into a ravine covered by cocoa trees and up a stream for safety in caves.

At her corner, my grand and her youngest daughter and son, began running when bullets began cutting through the roof of the house they were in.

Without anything, they ran off into the ravine and off upstream a little creek that hosts a network of caves. There they met each other and waited in silence.

They kept their eyes open watching every move the PNGDF made below.

Having the first section of our hamlet in flames and thick smoke belching out into the morning sky, the other half of the uniformed men were seen in the pigsty dragging a death pig towards a BCL truck and torching my grandmother’s section often clanking their guns into the bushes narrowly missing my family members.

My whole female relatives wept in the caves as smoke from our homes covered them. David arrived and ordered them out because other hamlets just above them were being tracked and torched with them not knowing it by concentrating on theirs.

They moved carefully toward the highway below passing the family dog covered in its blood. My grandmother could not endure the pain of watching her home burned before her and had to be ushered by her son.

They crossed the Kavarong River without being spotted and were away in safety.

But by then they saw clearly that the whole hamlet of Kavarongnau, that some hours ago they were in, was gone with the smoke.

NB: My grandmother, Anna Taruito (top photo) and uncle, David Perakai (photo below)

Friday, 22 March 2013

Bougainville’s Development Trends & the new Directives

Leonard Fong Roka

As Bougainvilleans, we were real innovative in our own right during the height of the Australia-backed Papua New Guinea blockade of our island. I witnessed discoveries, from food processing, gun smiths, electricity production, building and construction, engine mechanics, electronics, home economics, health care training, navigation, and so on were few of the many skills that the crisis brought right down to the illiterate people of Bougainville.
Mr. Leonard Fong Roka
But the peace process and the return of the so-called Eurocentric services back to the island is getting me sick to see our long known approach to change being shattered by the cash economy and a clear lack of vision and pragmatism at the political level; and corruption and personal interest in our midst.  

Politicians love fast money and impact projects that lack concrete foundations in the psyche of the ordinary Bougainvilleans. They long to see an economic miracle for Bougainville in the offices and media outlets of the world’s best known financial institutions and not an economic miracle that is snail-paced, less known but founded on solid rock that is, the people of Bougainville.

Dr. John Momis was not in Bougainville when we promoted the concept ‘mekim na save’ (do it and know it), and that is why he returned to Bougainville from Beijing with the Chinese backed mega-city on the Selau area; then meeting opposition, he gets all resources of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) to push for the re-opening of Panguna mine. Such a drive sheds light that our leaders just do not like self reliance.

Having in mind that such a rush for an impact project on Bougainville is a need because of the imposed terms of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) entailing that Bougainvilleans shall vote for referendum between 2015 and 2020 and such a change needs a monetary and fiscal power to sustain, I am attacking the trend or approach we are employing, and not the ABG in particular.

But I again sometimes question the merits of the BPA. Were the terms done to save Bougainvilleans to the self determination? Or, were they created to trap Bougainvilleans seeing the status quo that they won’t make it to nationhood under the dire straits?

To me, with insight on development stages outlined on The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto by W. W. Rostow (1960), I believe the ABG is not so people-power oriented. Rostow implied that ‘all societies, in their economic dimensions, must move up rung-by-rung  through these 5 stages: the traditional society, the preconditions for take-off, the take-off, the drive to maturity, and the age of high mass-consumption’. The first is the subsistence economy where Bougainvilleans are so reliant on and the last is the high consumerist societies like the First World countries.

But in the current trend, we are trying to get Bougainville from ‘the stone age into the space age’ that by-passes the three power-building stages in the continuum. But it is inevitable, because the BPA orders that on us; and not us, enforcing development on ourselves.

Massive economic impact projects with external capital, to me, rob people off their innovative mind power or the capacity to discover new ideas as Bougainvilleans did through the crisis when PNG was trying to starve us to death. Thus I am saddened to see our pre-peace innovative culture dying or, succumbing to outside uncharted trade, legal and conceptual infiltration.

In the Bougainville crisis history, the years 1991 to 1995, should be noted as the years of discovery of new ideas and approaches in science, technology, society and so on. All these discoveries concentrated in Central Bougainville where most of the pre-crisis company and government materials like machinery were left to dereliction.

We made soap out of coconut oil; we drove cars with coconut oil; we distilled the sea water and got salt crystals for cooking and trading; we constructed mini hydro sets for electricity; we made guns and cartridges; we created cassava flour and yeast; we managed to heal bullet wounds; we trained health extension officers that serve throughout most of the rebel zones; we navigated the Bougainville Strait with accuracy to Taro town on Choiseul Province and the least goes on. Why should not we re-invest into this brilliant past of mekim-na-save? Why not think big but start small?

Bougainville is rich in natural resources to instigate a take-off in this post conflict economic recovery effort. But our gold, cocoa and so on has being decanted to fatten the Bismarck Archipelago. Such a negative drive gets me to say that if we just do not own our resources now, then we are losers as will be our children.

But we claim that we have fought and died for the sole betterment of our children’s future; we wanted a Bougainville that would be for Bougainvilleans; we wanted irredentism. But does the BPA promote that? Are politicians in the ABG planning for that ambition to materialize?

Our gates are open to foreign lethal dogs to come in and these serpents are coming as consultants, researchers, Bible preachers, street vendors, business partners, teachers, marriage partners, gold panners and buyers, investors and you name them on. Such infidels are not needed on Bougainville if we want Bougainvilleans to take on the ownership of their island’s economic, political and social development.

Do we really want a self reliant Bougainville?

We have a potato growing Torokina area, but still we want Australian potatoes shipped in; we have rice farmers but do not like them so we import Australian Trukai rice; peanuts grow well on our island but we want Chinese tinned peanuts; we have struggling poultry producers like Likui Trading but let them die because Kwik Kai in Morobe is contributing to our self reliance; we construct mini hydro power generators but PNG Pawa must supply power to all villages not villagers creating their own supplies; we produce cocoa and copra but we do not want to export ourselves direct overseas so  we give them to Agmark Pacific to generate more revenue for East New Britain so that their musicians can sing more nasty songs on our women.

Bougainville should by now engage into a protectionist policy to drive itself forward. It should get the process of development down to the people. The community should own and drive positive change in their midst at their own pace; and not much external dictatorship as the BPA is doing to us.

I so love the 1999 booklet, The Community Development Handbook by Flo Frank and Anne Smith. It highlights the issue of community development as a measure of that leads people to design their own destiny.

It gives us The Seven Steps in a Community Planning Process: (1). Create the vision, (2). Assess the current situation, (3). Set goals, (4). Establish objectives, (5). Development action plans, (6). Implement the plan, and (7). Evaluate progress and results. These steps should be applied on Bougainville on all levels of government to the communities; public and private sectors, too. But, sadly, the ABG leadership is just so ignorant to give tangible progress to the people.

To me these measures are the fundamentals of self reliance and growth; responsibility and people empowerment, but not a leader as so far brought the concept down to the people or as brokered a deal for people to people help and self motivation for positive change on Bougainville.

Creating employment opportunities, development strategies and economic capacity for Bougainville on what available resources the island can provide under strict protectionism and people centered foundations is the way for us to make Bougainville a better place for Bougainvilleans.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Leonard Fong Roka—it’s my Life; it’s now or never

My father was from Unea (commonly referred to as Bali) Island in the Witu Island group of the West New Britain province of PNG. As an auto-mechanic apprentice in the Panguna Mining School and working at the Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) Light Vehicles Workshop, he had many Bougainvillean friends.
Dad met my mother (a blood nice of two brothers and Bougainvillean leaders, Martin Miriori and late Joseph Kabui), an Arawa High School student, in the late 1970s. They got married and I was born in 1979 at the Arawa General Hospital. Here is when, a young man, Leonard Fong, from Hoskins in West New Britain again decided I should inherit his name.

In the early 1980s, my nuclear family left our home hamlet, Kavarongnau, in the Panguna District’s Tumpusiong Valley and re-settled in the mountainous Kupe area inland from Arawa where Bougainville’s first gold mining operation existed in the early 1930s. My family reclaimed a piece of land my grandmother had previously purchased from her in-laws, the family members of my grandfather.

In the mid-1980s my father resigned from BCL as he aligned himself into religious living. He began practicing catechism at Kupe as I went to attend my first formal education at Piruana Village Tokples School (pre-school), a school located between Arawa and the Kupe Mountains in 1986.

But while in school a illness that nearly had me paralyzed and death, attacked, my grandmother and others declared that it was a attack from our spiritual masters for having missed a initiation I was required for, so I was taken to leave with an old woman and relative of mind at Parakake on the Port-Mine (Loloho-Panguna) access road.

Whilst I was here, for the whole length of 1986, father went to do his catechist training at Mabiri Ministry School some 20 kilometers north of Arawa. Then he began working as a catechist in the then developing Arawa Parish with the late American, Fr. Gerard Palettea (Arawa urban, in late 1986 was officially declared a parish).

After completing my traditional healing process I began my schooling at Peter Lahis Community School, in Arawa, in 1987.

Practicing his church work dad also was a member of a community group known as Matau Nerinaving that was pressuring the North Solomons Provincial Government to remove the New Guinean squatter settlers. This was group created by the people inland from Arawa whom most of their land was being taken over by the urbanization and worst, by the slums.

On weekends I attended their meetings with my father.

In 1988, I was doing Grade 2, when PNG police brutality sprouted on my island and people. In 1989, with the crisis intensifying dad left Arawa to be close to the rest of the family in the Kupe Mountains, I and my brother were transferred to Kaperia Community School where we dwelled with our relative, the late Joseph Kabui then premier of North Solomons.

Around late July 1989, the Kupe villagers were evacuated into the Kaino village, I and my brother began attending school from Kaino till 1990 when the Australia-backed PNG block on my island was enforced and services were called off.

I witnessed the whole Bougainville conflict upon which I lost my father in 1993, after he was shot by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA). Despite being a crisis, it had both positive and the negative impacts on us.

My father and his religious life did deny me the expose to my people and culture. But his death opens me to learning our way of life and to be a man. I mingled with my people and learn skills like building houses.

In 1994, after hearing that the PNGDF were to established schools in Arawa where a care center was building up, my mother led us out at mid-night in order to evade BRA elements to Arawa. We arrived safe and a month later the PNGDF attempted to recapture the Panguna mine.

In 1995, with the late Theodore Miriung leading a peace building effort on Bougainville, I resumed school at what was formerly the Bovo International Primary School but under code number of my old school, the Kaperia Community School till 1996.

By this time, my religious mother also remarried another religious man from Panguna.

From 1997 to 2000, I was at Arawa High School, where in Grade 7 a William Mania from Eastern Highlands was ordering us to write poems everyday; and where also, a Kiwi author and ornithologist Don Hadden was my English teacher for 3 consecutive years.

In 2001 and 2002 I was at Hutjena Secondary School where the freedom I was caught into got me drinking and womanizing. In 2003 I attended the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) with a dream to study literature. Here also, I had my first piece of poem published by the University News of UPNG.

This hike was interrupted by my unofficial departure from the university in 2004 due to financial crisis.

Taking up part times jobs I was home for almost 7 years then came back to Divine Word University (DWU). This period also took my family back into the Tumpusiong Valley.

Since me and my four siblings were in school following each other, a year apart, we left Kupe and were turning Arawa as a home. Our hamlet and gardens in Kupe were subjected to looting and destruction by thieves out there. Thus when I returned to Arawa, I purchase second hand roofing irons; hired a chainsaw man and built a semi-permanent 4-room house and a desolated hamlet in the Tumpusiong Valley away from Kavarongnau. My Arawa bogged family began heading into Tumpusiong adding more houses to my creation.
In the process I also led the family by planting a 3 000 cocoa trees plantation in our land in the Bana District in South Bougainville. Leaving this to the other family members I created another plot in another area within Tumpusiong where I also erected my second house in the Tumpusiong Valley. I was to expand this site from the 5 00 cocoa trees but my coming to DWU interrupted the work.

My curiosity of coming to DWU was not generated by my will to study but I was keen to make it here after I came across a book that carried a ‘published by the DWU Press’.

Having written a collection of 18 short stories and over 100 hundred poems (whist at home I was exchanging letters with author Dr. Steven Winduo who advised me to write more than 100 poems but later lost contact with him) during my 7 years grounding at home I thought that if I go there as a student maybe they could help.

But that just did not work out the way I thought it would but my 2011 Communication Skills lecturer, Mrs. Aiva Ore in her lecturers mentioned blogging as an avenue of self-publishing and that captured my attention.

After her lecture, I went straight to Google search, and born was a blog that I used my own name, Leonard Fong Roka. In the course of the same fortnight, looking for support information to get into my blog, I discovered the Crocodile Prize that eventually led me into Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG ATTITUDE.

Writing for PNG Attitude since 2011, as made me feel like a writer a lot; there is also being a lot of improvement in my writing but more is yet to be done. It has being a venue where I decant my thoughts, stories and dreams out to a wider audience.

But school work is the greatest impediment for me to dominate PNG Attitude with my writings and improve my writing skills; or even write or work towards a novel or any other type of book. Currently, bogged down with an autobiography of my crisis experience and a anthropological work recording my family history which have a rough version of it in the anthology, Crocodile Prize 2012 that Crawford House gave me a positive feedback for after reading it.

But I have confidence in myself that before I die I will still caress a book with ‘by Leonard Fong Roka’ on the front cover and leave behind a pile of writings or legacy—in PNG Attitude words—being a ‘lonely Bougainvillean voice’  for Bougainvilleans to love and hate.


Saturday, 16 March 2013

Moses Summa walks above the clouds

Leonard Fong Roka

In the inside of the cover of Bougainvillean, Moses Summa’s notebook were this lines: The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be—Horace Bushnell. Thus, I sat him and asked a little more about him.
Mr. Moses Summa
On the 3 March, the Divine Word University (DWU) held its 31st graduation ceremony for over 1000 students from around PNG and a few from the Solomon Islands. And from the northern Solomons trouble torn island of Bougainville, sweating in joy was Moses Summa.

The fellow Bougainvillean, afterwards, marched into my room where I accommodated him alongside others with joy burning as magnesium.

Moses comes from Boku village in the Baitsi area of Baba Constituency in the Bana District in South Bougainville. He was born in his village in 1968 and he is married with one child.

He did his primary education at the Catholic church run Boku community school from 1976 to 1981; then he went on to high school at Buin where he was schooling from 1982 to 1985. At high school, however, he failed his exams and ended at the village; but moved on to the Panguna mine where, success in site testing, had him secure a job with the gone Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) as driver of 170ton Euclid R-170 haul trucks and other plants till May 1989 when the landowners forcefully shut the mine.

Through the chaos of the conflict in the early 1990s he was at home till 1993 when the PNG troops landed in the area. With resultant calm in his area of Bougainville, Moses left home and went to Buka, then onto Port Moresby with an ambition to further his education.

But in Port Moresby, his attempt for education failed so returned home. But with his will to further his academic levels he returned back to Port Moresby in 1995 and got into the Institute of Public Administration (PNGIPA) where he sponsored himself and graduated in 1996.

During the peak of the Sandline Crisis in 1997 he secured a job at the Buka Hospital then on Sohano Island as the hospital’s revenue officer. Then in 2009 he applied for a Degree in Management through the Faculty of Flexible Learning (FFL) of DWU which he achieves finally on the 3 of March.

Handing me his degree certificate he said, ‘I am happy that I achieve a milestone in my life. This paper is a motivation for me to contribute more to our island and its development and nationhood.

‘Being a failure in high school did not matter to me but it was a stepping stone to carry on with a positive mindset’.

He said Bougainville needs more positive thinking and educated Bougainvilleans if we are to realize the reasons of our long history of political and economic struggle and suffering. ‘We need a high investment in education and beside, we need a education system that should create Bougainvilleans that are Bougainvilleans by heart and not these puppets that run away from our island’s suffering looking for peace and high wages in PNG’.

Moses is often frustrated by the ABG’s and church’s lack of creativity in education development and graduate’s reasons for not returning home. ‘We created the ABG in 2005 but so far, it had not invested in educational infrastructure development on our island. If it has no money, give the job to the churches but the churches are also sleeping despite our loud talk for referendum. I am so far sick listening to people talking of the Catholic church’s giving a piece of land to DWU at Mabiri; when will they establish that? Bougainvilleans need to be educated in a Bougainvillean environment.

‘And since we sell them into PNG, they become puppets who run after money thus forgetting the fact their island needs them. They graduate and stay in PNG to gain work experience. Bullshit! That’s lies; a Bougainvillean that comes to PNG must return and create work experience or create his job in Bougainville. If we want Bougainville to remain ours, let’s suffer and create development from the little capabilities have’.

Moses Summa is now still with the Buka General Hospital.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Worst People & Worst Places: I walk into a wall of Dependency

Leonard Fong Roka

Somewhere in the south coast of Madang town is Ward 17, in local level government (LLG) terms. A unkempt feeder road cuts through the LLG of some 10 000 people; and, neatly lined on neither side of the road are swaying mango trees and areca nut palms that catches my breathe because I am a chewer.
I jostled into this place on a wet Friday, 15 March 2013, with my other Year 3 course mates of Divine Word University to search for the peoples’ ideas about their perceptions and experience of community development and their will to develop as part of our assignment.

But, sadly what I heard and saw was not what I do witness in by Panguna District on Bougainville in the northern Solomons. Our subjects said everything they were facing, or should be done for the betterment of their community was with the government; more than 30 years we have being independent, so the government should now bring development to us now.

Our driver got us in front of a section of the ward they were calling, Baur village. I learned later, that Ward 17 LLG was made up of two villages that were Baur and Bilbil (Bilbil were new comers into the area thus they did not own much of the customary land). The ward has its own primary school; a tertiary type institution, and even a steady supply of electricity available, but to connect to a household, one has to have the money for the bills to the supplier, the PNG Pawa.

We were ushered by a leader into a semi-permanent house of low standards. Surrounding it, at a hand’s reach, were sago thatched huts; two modern standard tombs; a poorly constructed poultry hut on a muddy lawn and a lone skinny woman who kept an open eye on me from one of this Stone Age shelters with her unkempt child regularly intimidating her concentration on the dialogue.
To the elders we gathered, all claimed that, apart from the feeder road, the primary school and the electricity grid line stretching through their midst, there was no government service for their ward. One leader said: ‘The government proposes development projects here but they do not execute those promises. NGOs you know of in Madang are also like the government, they come to Baur to show off and tell us of projects like water and off they go. We ran after them but they will not be bothered by your presence in their office’.

One thing I worked out is that, despite the said economic boom of Madang, the provincial administration lacks efficiency and effectiveness in it service delivery mechanism. ‘Madang district,’ one of the leaders proved my reasoning, ‘has only one single car and that is the problem when the administration wants to broaden its reach to the whole of Madang district’. But as our team questioned him further, he added: ‘In Madang, we hear of money being delivered to the province but we do not know where that money ends up in’.

In the light of community development process that involves self-help, the Baur people exactly did not have a vision to strive and will for advancement in order to change their standards of living or initiate development. To them, from the youth to the leaders, development was the government’s business. The government has their money and thus, has to help them up. The government has to built them toilets, water supply, houses, even maintained their run-down schools and churches; these were governmental responsibilities because they have voted them just for that.
Despite having community created development structures on the ground, negligence plays the upper most eroding agent and thus all good plans goes to rest as people look towards the Madang provincial government for change.

My eyes kept aching as it searched for the truth of why an indigenous people of Madang just cannot attain advancement on their own land. My eyes frisked the silhouette: all family houses were of all bush materials; some have cartons for the walling; others had blue canvases for the internal walling and many were subjected to deterioration.

A younger man told me: ‘As natives of Madang, today we do not have the freedom to claim ownership of any development in this province’. He pointed out that between them and the Madang towns there are strange settlers from the Sepiks and the Highlands and many others that prevail over them. Thus, their freedom is suppressed and their minds cannot be broadened.

In such a situation we think of belittlement, relegation, and exploitation that come into play in this province that is hosting few of the mining boom stories of PNG.

Since arriving in 2011, I have seen the Madang people as some of the most affected people by the influx of people from other provinces. The businesses in the filthy Madang town are controlled by outsiders and topping the list and also increasing in dominance are the Asians. Every shop I walk into in Madang is owned by an Asian whilst the locals are the shop assistants; I was laughing in 2012 watching an Asian company building DWU dormitories having Asian sub-contractors. The gods might have had escaped from Madang?

The poor locals are often subjected to the mercy of outsiders. In February I walked into an Asian restaurant outside DWU, there peeping behind the counter, I had a glimpse of an Asian caressing the local girl’s thigh as the other local girl enjoyed their activities. Later they saw me and the Asian man jumped in to serve me.
I could conclude for her that she had no hope but to succumb to such illicit give-ins, since you are already are nobody when your world as being conquered by aliens.

And the Baur people are not sick people but it is the PNG version of democracy that is killing them from being innovative. In PNG the democracy’s few pillars such as freedom of movement, speech and so on should be seen as the powerhouse of tribalism sprouted corruption that will kill PNG.

Such requires the government to re-think and re-shape what democracy should be in PNG.

My people of Bougainville were the only people that used the barrel of the gun to walk out of this dirty PNG democratic culture. Thus now we have had more control over our land and also, we have the right to decide our future.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

My island’s and people’s survival was this gun

Leonard Fong Roka

‘When we were kids our parents used to tell us ‘don’t wander new the road for the erereng (Nasioi term for redskin) are bad people and they will kill you and throw you in the bush’ and then took off to town (Arawa). We took that by heart and so never wandered towards the main road but keep in the safety of our villages and watched the erereng expended their slums further inland. This is why I went to fight the thieves that were destroying my island, Bougainville,’ Saul Korai told me in Arawa.
Mr. Saul Korai
Saul Korai hails from Kapanau area near the Aropa airport in Central Bougainville. He joined the guerilla group, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) movement against the Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), the PNG government and the New Guinean squatter settlements as a teenager in early 1989.

He says in had no hope in late 1988 as his people began attacking the New Guinean squatter settlers at Aropa after they raped and murdered a local woman who was returning home from the garden, but I had to join in the fight.

He was in action against the PNG government invaders till 1996. ‘Despite the fact that we, the fighters, have directed Bougainville into a civil war that had cause a alarming loss of thousands of innocent lives, the greatest achievement is that we the Bougainvilleans has now the right to decide our future. It is a milestone that came about through suffering and destruction.’

Korai likes the peace process. ‘Despite the fact that, we the Bougainvilleans, were learning the art of war and winning the Australia-backed PNGeans in many engagements; also the pro-PNG resistance forces beginning to steal PNG weapons or killing them, the peace process was a smart decision by leaders like the late Joseph Kabui. If we did force the invaders out, I know that the 1990 BRA smartness would come alive and we would have then killed many of our own people. But the peace process made that impossible.’

But in the peace process one thing Korai hates to hear and talk about is one of the three pillars of the referendum that should come somewhere between 2015 and 2020 is the ‘disposal of all weapons’ or ‘weapons disposal’. ‘This was the worst thing ever done to us Bougainvilleans. It is a slap in the face for us Bougainvilleans by the New Guineans. Our own leaders sold us out to the cruel and unpredictable sting of the New Guineans.

‘These guns were our freedom. Without a gun the BCL, the PNG government and people would have turned us into no-bodies on our own island. Those beautiful mountains of Panguna would have now being a desert or my Aropa area would have being a New Guinean district; these were the guns, which did make us seen as human beings by the New Guineans and the world. So why take them away from me and destroy my valued asset without giving me what I fought for?

‘We fought and died for independence with guns that we were not given by the people promoting the weapons disposal thing. That pillar must be changed. I will support only a strategy for a weapon-free Bougainville when leaders create a kind of museum or memorial where weapons and life stories of combatants and all other cases and issues relating to our struggle can be kept safe for our children.’

Saul Korai today is a successful cocoa farmer in the Aropa area and bought himself a Honda Dyna truck that now transports people from the Aropa area daily with their produce to the market in Arawa.

He keeps his beloved rifle at home. ‘Seeing this weapon makes me think about the suffering our island and people went through for years. If ABG wants it back, it must make sure to keep it safe so that I can visit it and let my kids see it and know who their father was and why he become that sort of a man. This is the only valuable approach to free Bougainville from weapons.’

To Korai, such a memorial to store all weapons for visitors and so on would also generate income for veterans in the future.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Lomiki: Need more formalities in my Bougainville basket

Leonard Fong Roka

In the midst of hundreds of Papua New Guineans, Bernard Lomiki, was one of the tiniest fractions of Bougainvilleans from the northern Solomons to graduate from the Divine Word University main campus on the 3 March 2013 under the merciful sun of Madang.
Mr. Bernard Lomiki
 The Siwai man from Hiruhiru village, flew back home, to Bougainville, with a jubilating heart and a Diploma in Health Services Management that he attain through DWU’s Faculty of Flexible Learning  (FFL) after enrolling in 2011. As a father, he had something positive to bring home to his five children and a supportive wife back home.

Born in 1964, Mr. Lomiki did not go through the formal education system or the classrooms. Rather, he made his way through the much expensive College of Distance Education (CODE) system (then College External Studies (COES)) and passed with a mere letter of attainment and not a certificate in 1986 back in Arawa.

With a certificate of attainment and no formal job, the Bougainville war for independence engulfed this South Bougainvillean in an air of nothingness. But the stability created by the New Zealand peace effort brought him hope to seek some sort of employment in the unpredictable post-conflict Bougainvillean environment.

From 1994 to 2009, he was employed by the Monoitu Health Center in Siwai where he served his people as a Community Health Worker. A job he said he enjoyed and dedicated himself to in order to advance. At the end of 2009, he secured a position at the Buka General Hospital where he was serving in the Pharmaceutical Department distributing medicine throughout Bougainville and it is from here, his life changing moment caught him unprepared—he did enrolled in the FFL of DWU under the sponsorship of the Bougainville Traditional Herbal Association (BTHA).

For Lomiki, his graduation day was one of the greatest moments in his 49 year old life. ‘As my name was read,’ he chuckled at me with too joyful complexion, ‘I was carried away. I was proud looking back at my past of misfortunes in academia. I have reached something after years and months of struggle that sometimes does not go well with my family’.

In 2012 he quit his job to enlighten the workloads and to concentrate in his studies. ‘You know,’ he laughed it out; ‘an email from the lecturers shocked me when they asked me for my assignments. I knew I had done nothing so my ego set me working a strategy and that was, I should quit my job and sacrifice for a diploma from a recognized higher learning institution’.

He has a motive to go back to Bougainville and contribute to the development of Bougainville. He longs to see a Bougainville people with high living standards of living in terms of health. A Bougainville with healthy people and communities is his aim.

‘Our people have long struggled for self determination and we have paid for that with our blood and tears,’ he said. ‘Now is the time that we all work together and invest in education for our island’s future. We have proven to the world that a big country like Papua New Guinea cannot hold back our years if we set up a good political system and a sound economic engine and say: ‘Let’s go Bougainville!’ the Papua New Guineans will be shocked because they know if they sent their military there, we will kick them out’.

‘If our people are committed to change through education and our government, the ABG, supportive by bringing tertiary institution right to Bougainville, in terms of development this Papua New Guineans can fall back. The PNGeans are celebrating the LNG and so on, but all are exploitative industries that at the end of the day, the investor walks away dancing with the resources owner fight each other because little they should has being sucked by corruption’.

With his first born son working after graduating from the Madang Technical College in 2010, Mr. Bernard Lomiki, has applied for application form to come back to Divine Word University to pursue a degree in Rural Health in between 2014 and 2015.

‘Bougainville is looking forward to deciding its political future in the referendum between 2015 and 2020,’ he told me, ‘and I am looking forward to contribute something to the making of a new Bougainville instead of being a free rider’.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Graduate says Bougainville health needs improvement

Leonard Fong Roka

Paul Disin was born in the town of Madang in 1987 from a mixed parentage of Bougainville and Madang. He and his family moved to Bougainville, where his dad comes from Siwai in South Bougainville, in 1989 as Bougainville sunk into civil war.
Mr. Paul Disin
Since then Paul had not even met his matrilineal relatives of Madang and this does not affects him; to him, Bougainville is where he belongs.

On the 3 March, 2013, Paul was one of the 1730 students that graduated from Divine Word University; the main campus and all other affiliated campuses around PNG. He was so happy and proud that he had made it this far after all the hardship he had in his education career back in Bougainville.

‘I am very happy,’ he told me in my dormitory where I accommodated him alongside other graduates from South Bougainville, ‘and looking forward to repay my parents for the hard times they had being caring for me. And also to contribute to the development and peace building process on my island.’  

Paul actually did his secondary school at Hutjena Secondary School on the Buka Island of Bougainville from 2002 to 2005. In 2007 he enrolled the University of Papua New Guinea till 2008 doing economics and computing. But in 2009 he decided to leave UPNG and entered the Divine Word University in Madang.

In Madang he took up Bachelor Degree program in Rural Health that paves the way to be a Health Extension Officer (HEO) that is responsible in bringing the urban focused health services in PNG to the rural setting.

Before coming to Madang for his graduation he was offered a job as Residency Health Extension Officer (RHEO) at the Buka General Hospital on the Buka Island where he says he had witnessed many issues that has the potential to negatively affect Bougainville health delivery mechanism.

He said: ‘In the Buka General Hospital there is no unity in the health profession, the Residency Medical Officers (RMO) sees us the RHEO as nobodies. I feel sad working in such an environment where we are supposed to have a collective effort to bring health services to the people of Bougainville’.

To Paul, the Autonomous Bougainville Government need to really work hard to make the health services delivery mechanism proactive. He said, ‘the health care system of ABG need improvement like medical officers need short courses to get them up to date with medical development around the world. Bougainville health care does not reach much the community level but stops around the district level thus people are not so aware and left to the sting of health break downs; here it is fed to maladministration and the community suffers. Health services, for Bougainville needs to be down with the people in the rural areas’. 

For Paul and his profession, he said his studies at DWU did greatly help him and he is doing fine. But since the classroom environment is different from the hospital wards, he is still adapting.

Furthermore, he is preparing to personally monitor and collect tuberculosis (T.V) data on Bougainville with a hope to study the trends of the illness and initiate something to address the issue.

As a medical officer he as engaged on a trail with a negative starts but hopes to do better soon.

Over the course of his days at the Buka hospital a patient died before him and the incident really made him guilty. ‘It was my first week on duty and there were no professionals around in the middle of the night. The asthmatic patient was with two nurses when death crept in, I was called with diseased man was struggling to breath. I was shocked not knowing where to locate the resources to attempt resuscitating him and with the nurses who had serve for ages in the hospital only looking at me, we lost the man. I was guilty.’

Paul also saw in the Buka General Hospital few medical officers that he refers to them as ‘academic boasters’. He claims that the hospital has a New Guinean physician who recently landed on Bougainville showing off to other medical officers with his stock of degrees.

He complained to me, that ‘ABG is slack here; it should not allow such childish people to enter Bougainville. What Bougainville needs are those that are here to help Bougainville move towards its ambition, that is independence with a healthy community and population. Bougainville has enough medical professionals working in other places and it only needs to bring them in instead of letting the very people we fought and died against into our midst’.

At the graduation day he was angered by some non-Bougainvillean graduates by pestering him to secure them a job in Bougainville. ‘So many of these Papua New Guineans do not like their country, ‘he told me, ‘that’s why they run all over the place looking for jobs. We Bougainvilleans look forward to help prepare our island for nationhood but these New Guineans, are a lost people. They don’t like their provinces but they like money and that’s why the Asians are taking them over.’

After telling me his tales and dreams Paul left for Bougainville, the home he loves the most with a will to contribute to the development of Bougainville.

We were animals to the New Guineans

Leonard Fong Roka

NOTE: Ex-PNGDF soldier and author, Yauka Aluambo Liria, briefly stated that he flew in from Arawa to pick up the body of late Karebu in his book, Bougainville Campaign Diary. Here is an account of a man who was captured by the PNGDF and watched everything that happened before Liria arrived in a chopper.
Mr. Hellman Angkanu of Bakabori outside Arawa
After killing Karebu the Kupe people were ordered by the government to move to Kaino which then began a care centre. I was at Kaino and saw the casket of Karebu brought home; here I watched as a witch doctor forced some magical stuff into the corpse’s mouth to kill the killers and later, the Kupe villagers were ordered by the relatives of the death to carry the casket and he was buried where he was shot.

My brother and I were bringing a plastic of wet bean cocoa from an isolated section of Kupe to Piruana (near Kaino) when we were ordered to return by a fleeing family at midday on 4 July 1989.

On afternoon of 3 July 1989 a troop of Kupe men and a kid were returning home after a day of boozing in the Siae area. At Kaino dusk covered them thus the child could not move on but rest so they moved under a deserted house on the fringes of Kaino and spent the night.

At dawn, the next morning the 4th of July 1989, one of the Kupe men woke to pee and discovered the arrival of a convoy of yellow Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) vehicles that were used by the military in their operations then. He woke his men and off they disappeared into the cocoa plantation living behind the bales of rice and tinned fish they were suppose to camel home.

As the Kupe men were descending down the Kaino brae for the Bovong River, Karebu, a Bakabori man married in Kupe was making his way to Bakabori village to finalize the harvesting of his cocoa plot that he had started off the previous day.

It is believed that the PNGDF soldiers discovered escapee’s belongings and immediately began tracking them behind after of course, knifing the bales of rice and cartons of tinned fish then scattering everything on the lawn. Since the village of Bakabori is visible from the Kaino side of the Bovong valley, the troops might concluded that the runaways belonged to that village.

 Living Bakabori a little uphill, the runners crossed the cold Bovong below Bakabori and headed up stream towards Kupe following the Kupe-Piruana trail and passed Karebu somewhere without seeing him in person.

The PNGDF stormed the village whilst the people were preparing to go into their cocoa plots and feed also their pigs.

In the cocoa trees surrounded Bakabori village, the villagers were lined up and scolded at: ‘Olgeta yupela pakin kirap na kam arasait’ (Everybody fuckin out of your houses). He paused and continued, ‘Yupla harim tu ah? Pakin kam arasait o bai yupela paia wantem haus ya’ (Are you listening? Fuck, come out or you will be torched with the houses).

The soldiers lined the villagers angrily. Some were ordered to bite each others’ ears; upon which many were left bleeding and in tears. Hellman was ordered to decant a bucket of water with a whole packet of salt they removed from his kitchen hut saturated in it.

Angkanu gathered his kids and wife on the lawn of the village of 7 houses that was now filled with redskin men in military attire. On the lawn the villagers were lined up and seated on the ground; they were frisked as other soldiers infiltrated their houses. In the pretext of searching, some women had their breasts and pubic area verbally or physically molested before their husbands; with another couple who walked late into the assembly area ordered by a soldier to strip and have sex before their eyes but he was scolded at.

The soldiers found nothing lethal but they collected knives, axes and metal fishing spears and began bundling them when commotion flared and a bunch of soldiers were rushing towards the southern edge of the village.

The relative Karebu was calling from the fringes without actually coming out into the open: ‘Oh, where have all the humans of this village gone to?’ As Hellman saw it, he was calling and at the same time having his cocoa hook up in the trees harvesting what he did left from the previous day.

Then guns were clanked off towards the cocoa plot where the calling was coming from. The villagers knew nothing of what actually happened to Karebu as many thought that he might have had a lucky escape.

As the villagers watched one of the soldiers that looked like a leader gave orders to his men and Angkanu and his brother in law and a blood brother of Karebu were tied up behind their backs and forced them into the cocoa plantation in another direction whilst the majority of the soldiers went into the direction of their shooting.

The PNGDF gun butted, punched, kicked and swore at them as the tethered them down a road leading to the Bovong River. Hellman had his nose, mouth, ears bleeding and swollen. He was crying as a child as the uniformed redskins scourged him at will alongside his two partners.

‘With those guns they were men,’ he told me in Arawa, ‘in their eyes I saw cowardice and without a gun I don’t know what a mess the three of us could do on these shameless kind of people. I hate to see redskins today and if one happens to get marry to a relative of mind I will kill him or her straight away’.

Arriving at the banks of the brawling Bovong around 10 o’clock, the PNGDF ordered the trio to sit. There they waited with Hellman having so many things in mind: he was wondering if they were to be executed there by the river and their bodies thrown into the river. This was making him openly crying with his two relatives also following him.

As they sat, another party of soldiers arrived towards midday. Orders were passed and the trio was blindfolded. But the leaf of a young coconut palm wrapped around Hellman got itself torn and still he could see through.

He was shocked in what he saw. Before them a couple of soldiers dragged the familiar muscular body of Karebu holding him on the legs and some supporting from the hands. They laid him so close by that Hellman scanned him thoroughly and whispered to his companions.

His body was so mutilated with fresh bullet wounds. To Hellman, the whole lot of bullets the PNGDF fired at their village maybe ended on this lone innocent cocoa farmer’s body. Flies hovered the body and ants climbed to feed on the solidified blood.

In the afternoon the Australia-donated PNGDF helicopters landed and picked them up. The chopper Hellman and his two friends were in had machine guns mounted on both side of it. When it left the ground, it remain hovering above and then another landed and collected the body of Karebu.

The trio was headed straight to the Arawa police station where Hellman was kicked off from the chopper before the chopper actually touched the ground. He landed on the hard gravel unconscious but regained consciousness in the sharp fist blows from angry redskin policemen. They kicked and pushed the trio into the cell and locked them up.

Back in the village people began searching for Karebu. They tracked the trail the PNGDF followed and seeing heavy stain of blood on the ground, they knew he was killed.

Early the next morning rumors reached Bakabori and Kupe that a new corpse was being brought into the hospital by choppers that entered Arawa from the upstream areas of Bovong River. Thus the widow and some relatives headed for Arawa to recognize the body.

There in the morgue of Arawa General Hospital was the body that was mutilated beyond recognition but the body built and the clothing proved it was him when they shook off the ice crystals gathered on the body.

With no crime to prosecute against, Hellman and his two friends were released from Arawa police cells after having spent a week.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Bougainvillean Graduation Pictures of Divine Word University in 2013

Leonard Fong Roka

When we look for any marginalized people in the Oceania region, one must not hesitate to count the Bougainville people of the Solomon archipelago. These are a people belittled by colonialism and dumped into the ill political and economic tentacles of the Papua New Guinea people and state.

Here ever since, they were subjected to genocide, political and social indoctrination and resource exploitation by PNG people and their various development partners, especially the mining giant, Rio Tinto through its subsidiary, BCL.

Since the 1960s, they have struggled for self-determination; in 1988, they engaged the PNG infiltrators on an armed conflict that with lack of political leadership led to 10 year civil war that resulted in the death of 15 000 people.

The region’s power, Australia, supported PNG but the rebels frustrated and demoralized their efforts till New Zealand stepped in to quell the crisis.

Between 2015 and 2020, Bougainvilleans will hold a referendum to decide their political future.

To many Bougainvilleans education now is their priority one! They have invest into education to have their future are better one since they have paid for their island with blood and tears. The most frustrating issue is that they lack educational infrastructures on their island due to the civil war.

Many of their students now travel into PNG to pursue their tertiary education that is costly and only handfuls make it.

These pictures are from the 31st DWU graduation that occurred on the 3 March 2013:
PNG Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill at DWU Graduation
Graduation Tent
Proud Bougainvillean graduants with their flag
Yet to graduate Bougainvilleans getting into the shoes of their seniors in their dorm where they accommodated them.
Graduants from Siwai in South Bougainville whom I, a Panguna man accommodated
Old trio meet: In the middle is the former teacher (primary school) to these gentlemen from Bana and Siwai. They graduated together
Philip Ihira from Siwai and mummy (mum first time to leave Bougainville to witness her son)
In the spirit of jubiliation: Bougainville Queens of intellectual progress
Edwin Becks, only son from the Panguna area
Proud to be Bougainvilleans!
Wanna be in the mood of graduation act out as graduants by stealing their senior's attire
Few graduants posing in my dorm area
Philip Ihira & Harding Koloura (right): It is this paper that we have worked for to contribute to the future of our Bougainville
These are a tiny fraction of the young population of Bougainville that needs to be educated in order to help contribute to the developmental progress and freedom of their homeland in the Solomons.
Many have in their hearts the thousands that have perished in their fight for independence from the brutal rule of their island by the Papua New Guineans.
History have shown that PNG had not an interest in their survival as a unique people but it was their will to eradicate their identity.


Friday, 1 March 2013

The Road Construction into Avaipa is a Leap into Development

Leonard Fong Roka in Siuema, January 2013

Avaipa is a landlocked valley approximately about 20 kilometers to the west of the Panguna mine site. It has a population of nearly 10 000 people and made up of around 7 main villages and many hamlets. These are: Kosia, Sipuru, Mainoki, Sirovai (Paruparu), Biuaka, Siuema and Kaspeke; these names, again is also used to refer to the geographical settings of these respective places and its citizens.
Road heading into Avaipa. This is Pandadesi...after the road as left Tumpusiong and now enters the Avaipa area
Before the Bougainville conflict since 1988, Avaipa (commonly called Paruparu) was least known or developed. But people grew a few cocoa and had about three cocoa dryers to process their trees. Then they walked to Panguna to pay the BCL helicopter services to airlift their produce to Kieta.
Shoulders will rest. Young boys carrying a live pig from Kosia into Tumpusiong
Paruparu, the central location of the area had a church building that functioned as the sub-parish of the Deumori Parish of Panguna. Thus, the Avaipa people were parishioners of Deumori. The church also played the role to build a community school for the desolated people.
Child labour to end. Kosia kids carrying canteen cargo from Tumpusiong where trucks offloaded it. This journey takes 3-4 hours through hills
But still they were a least known and respected people of Central Bougainville.

However, during the height of the Bougainville conflict, the Avaipa people began known across Bougainville and even overseas. The people established vocational type educational facilities and programs for the trouble torn Bougainville whom the Papua New Guineas with Australian support attempted to eradicate them from the surface of the Earth with the total blockade.
People welcome the gravelled section. At Pandadesi peak...a mountain range (background) inside Avaipa is blocking view of Paruparu station
Hundreds of young and old people flocked into Avaipa from all over Bougainville to be educated. Many took mechanical, nursing, social works, business training. Today, this bush trained men and women hold key positions in their communities.
My extended family is one family with land inside Avaipa, we look towards returning back
But the good work was abundant when the peace process introduced money-for-work culture back on the island.

As the peace slowly returned to Bougainville, the people had one major concern and that was, they had to connect their home with a road to the Pakia area (on the port-mine access road) or into the Tumpusiong Valley. The Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) and PNG did rob their island but did not give them back anything in return.
Road has minimized natural barriers like flood for the avaipa
Their will was nearly reached in 2005 when the first ABG government was formed in 2005. Their first ABG MP, Mr. Alponse Pemuko proposed a road to start off from Borumai and run over the Crown Prince Range and into Mainoki village then to Paruparu.

Surveyors that won the project tender, according to local stories, did the surveying at the cost of some K100 000. As the surveyors completed the job and were returning home through the Kosia mountains into Tumpusiong, they were stunned that this was the closest route from Paruparu to a main road, the Panguna to Nagovis highway.
Joy for the road
A next proposal was created and funding was secured. Surveyors were back to work, this time starting off from the Tumpusiong into Paruparu. This was supposed to be the least costly engagement but the locals controlled everything and directed the surveyors thus the cost soared into another K100 000. Funding to start the project was not available so it was cancelled.
The road is change for the youth (behind is the Tumpusiong Valley and mountains)
The next effort was proposed by the Central Bougainville MP in the Waigani government, Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro. A new tender for surveying was aired and a new surveying team went in 2010. And in late 2012, a local company Kompaini Transport Limited was awarded the contract and plants went in to cut a road to open the Avaipa area to the rest of Bougainville.

The Avaipa people are now a happy group in Central Bougainville as they are linking their forgotten world to the world.
My family's truck testing the new road last January, 2013
Many are saying that their shoulders will be resting these days with cars going into their homes to carry their produce for market in Arawa. Many that have left home to look for better pastures are now looking back home to Avaipa.
Siuema is where the road is heading for. Our soccer pitch (photo) is subject to improve. Pandadesi Mountains (background) borders Avaipa to Tumpusiong Valley
Such changes are created a obvious paradigm shift never before experienced. In the area land disputes are high; many people without a mythological link into Avaipa are even out there roaring like a lion with make-up oral histories and identities.
Siuema elementary school will improve once the road arrives. Sylvester is resting after a 3 hour walk from Tumpusiong
At the total costing of K300 000 for surveying (people stories) and K2-5 million for the road construction from the MP, Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro (people stories).

But all in all, Avaipa is in for a change; change that many leaders hope should be the guide for Bougainville as it was during the conflict.