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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Peter Era: Lucky escape from the Redskins’ Fury

By Leonard Fong Roka

‘Somewhere in the middle of 1989,’ Peter Era told me, ‘we watched from Onove as the PNG army torched Kavarongnau village. Two days later, they again torched the next village of Tonanau when the people were busy preparing for a feast which they then left and fled and the army helped themselves with those pigs and food’.
Peter Era
Anger for these inhuman activities of a so called professionally trained army of country led Peter Era, then 19 years old, and other men form the villages to set an ambush for the Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) convoys employed by the PNGDF.

The angry men waited but the PNGDF did not arrive on time thus they left to from the first spot to set up in another location towards the foot of the Panguna mine gravel slopes that stands tall before the Tumpusiong Valley. Whilst they were on this move, the PNGDF, after torching Tonanau, snailed up by foot towards the Onove junction where the ambush was just disbanded by the militants leaving behind the trucks and the rest of the soldiers.

The PNGDF seeing no signs of militants spotted the Tabora hamlet on the opposite banks of the polluted Kavarong River and crossed over to torch the village that the owners had already fled uphill to Onove and were watching every move the PNGDF were making.

In the clearing made by the recently constructed Pirurari-Oune feeder road, Peter Era and his comrades spotted the soldiers preparing to torched Tabora so they rushed to the vicinity thinking that the rest of the trucks had gone south.

As the band crossed the road and the brawling river, the rest of the PNGDF patrol moved towards the Onove junction and spotted the militants and open fired at them forcing the Peter Era to take cover whist his partners had fled leaving him alone.

When he stood up to check the main road, there was not a sign of vehicles for the PNGDF had reversed to avoid militant fire if they had guns. So Peter Era came out of his cover and began shouting for his escaped men when a strange voice behind him called, ‘Yu singaut lo wanem?’ (What are you shouting for?).

The soldiers forgot the Tabora village and rushed at their catch with fury. They tortured him to at will till he was all blood. From his bloody swollen eyes Peter watched as a one of the soldiers exhaustedly loaded his gun to shoot him when another soldier shouted at him to get lost. Then he ordered others to tie him up and pushed him for the main road.

The good soldier was cursed from behind by dissatisfied soldiers who were trailing behind as he walked defensively behind the captive.

At the road there were already more soldiers from Tonanau waiting. As the few law-abiding soldiers guarding him were nearing the rest of the waiting men with him, the rest of the Tabora party began shouting at the waiting men, ‘Boys, kilim em ya. Kilim em!’ (Boys, kill him. Kill him!). 

The waiting men rushed at him overpowering his escorts. They gun butted him; kicked him; penetrated his mouth with the barrel of their guns threatening to squeeze the trigger. As they tortured and scourged him in their midst, one of the Tabora party men left behind landed upon them, calling: ‘Klia fuckin and mi kilim em,’ (Make way, fuck and let me kill him) when a Bougainvillean soldier who was keeping his distance moved in ordering all to stop torturing the captive or he will let hell lose. ‘Displa ino hap blong kilim em,’he scolded them, ‘yupla no bin laik kilim lo hap yupla holim pastem’ (This is not the time to kill him, ‘he scolded them, ‘you should have killed him where you captured him).

The Bougainvillean soldier ordered them to place him on the truck as he watched then they left for Panguna.

On the truck, the little drive up for the Panguna mine zone, the soldiers did not event speak to each other. The men who first escorted him from the Tabora side were on the same transport with him so Peter Era felt little comfort and hope despite the pain he had to endure.

Arriving in Panguna they drove him straight to the Panguna police station upon the orders of the Bougainvillean soldier, who according to Peter Era was a good man from Buin in South Bougainville.

The BCL car that carried him and other soldiers left in the hands of the police and left.

There in was amongst other Bougainvilleans, who had also endured New Guinean torture, before him. The cell was over crowded with stench of blood.

Just like him, there were Bougainvilleans with red eyes, torn lips, swollen cheeks and signs of recent ease of crying. Each person had his own corner to man and worry to mind in defeat of demoralizing from PNG rage on Bougainville.

But after a few minutes of peace in the midst of his fellow Bougainvilleans, they all were shocked when a car outside screeched into the police car park and seconds later, some wild looking police and military personal marched with guns into the cells searching for a Peter Era.

‘Ol kok, husat Rambo Peter Era?’ (Hey penises, who is Rambo Peter Era?) They angrily shouted at the prisoners.

Peter Era was sure he will be killed; he felt like running but there was no hope trying from a cell with armed policemen everywhere. But remained silent with his eyes on them when a familiar soldier who was in the midst of the patrol that captured him figured him and ordered him out.

 On weak knees, Peter Era stood and staggered to the entrance of the cell in with rolling tears of fate when stinging hands hauled him outside with more punches, gun butting and boot kicks.

As Peter Era was undergoing this inhuman scourging from professionally trained PNG law enforcers, upstairs a busy Bougainvillean police officer, whom Era says was from Buka Island, was disturbed by these strange developments.

Peter Era was pulled outside to be loaded onto a waiting BCL transport when the Buka police officer intervened.

With a small handgun ready for use, he scolded the all-redskin party of soldiers and police officers.

‘Displa em no animal blong yupla, fuckin’ yupla (This is not your animal, fuckin’ you),’ he shouted and to this, Peter Era had a sudden wave of peace covering him, ‘go na lus nabaut, idiots! (Get lost, you idiots) Em police matter nau (This is now a police matter). Sapos yupla laik, watpo yupla no kilim em lo wanem hap yupla kisim em (If you wanted it, why didn’t you kill him where you captured him)?’

The Bougainvillean policeman grabbed Peter Era and directed him into his office as the redskin soldiers and police officers stood there looking stupid.

The Buka policeman then told Peter Era: ‘These aliens are burning our homes out of nothing but jealousy; for where they come from, they live in kunai grass houses, thus they are destroying you people and the homes around here. Very reckless kind of people’.

He then told him not to worry for with his presence he was safe and he will be transferred elsewhere away from these barbaric men.

‘I hope these two Bougainvilleans read my story and find me,’ he told me, ‘for I owe them my life. Without his kind and brave Bougainvillean hearts for an endangered fellow Bougainvillean I was death in the hands of the redskins.’

Saturday, 27 April 2013

My Poetry Manuscript

A week ago, my mate and Papua New Guinea’s award winning poet, Michael Dom shot me an email.

He asked me: ‘Have you thought of making a submission for a book publication? I know that your blog site and PDF format is easy for sharing but I believe there is value in a published book’.
The Cover as I wanted it
This kind suggestion just provokes me to tell more about my poetry dream.

A highlander, William Mania was my English teacher at Arawa High School in 1997 and he was the figure that had my class into writing poetry. But I never made it top till I was enrolled at the University of Papua New Guinea in 2003. Here, after reading poems and stories by students in the University News bulletin, I got a rough poem into it and it was published. This publication was actually a catalyst of giving me the courage to seat and compose poetry.

When I unofficially withdrew from the university in 2004, I was into writing in the comfort of my Tumpusiong Valley in Panguna, Central Bougainville.

But my style of writing developed in the ‘bush’ where there was not a professional writer beside me. That’s why as they say it my style is 'raw and edgy' as Phil Fitzpatrick once described. But I have to admit that ‘plotting’ is not me; I type as it comes into my mind. Never gone through the painstaking process of proof reading by a friend—since there are no persons interested in good reading around me—and I am an introvert.

But I do have good reasons to write the way I write.

To me, my trouble torn island home Bougainville in the Solomons, need a voice out there. She needs to be heard and felt by the world around her. Her long history of struggle for self determination must be known.

From another angle I see that, with the on-going peace and development process in the post conflict Bougainville, we need to build the spirit of nationalism so that people can turn to accept each other out of the divisions created by the civil war. Writing is one area I see hope in.

I write with hope that my works can create oneness in the mindset of Bougainvilleans for the pacification of hearts and minds.

But so far, I have not reached out to readers across Bougainville. I am getting most of my writings into the many blogs in the internet that my people in Bougainville have no access to.

I had that dream to publish but money seemingly is a problem with me thus I only bombard the internet with my poems, short stories and articles of Bougainville conflict related stuff.

With hope to publish, in 2012 I did create a poetry manuscript titled ‘The Pomong Utau of Dreams’. In the title you could wonder what it is all about. But ‘Pomong’ is actually the hamlet in the Kupe Mountains in the hinterland of Arawa that I grew up in as a child and ‘utau’ is a clay pot in my Nasioi language.

This manuscript is 175 page and hosting 150-plus poems that I have being writing since 1997 (More after 2003).

But after setbacks on my campaign to secure a publisher for a Bougainvillean stuff, I decided to go into blogging to share some of the poems that have had attracted some attention and even some ended up in the anthologies ‘Crocodile Prize 2011 and Crocodile Prize 2012’ of the Papua New Guinea writing competition The Crocodile Prize.

In fact I designed this poetry manuscript in such a way that it could be appealing to all Bougainvilleans starting from the cover page.

But the significant thing about this, is that it is writing from an island that has being going through Pacific’s only bloodiest war after World War 2 and as PNG Attitude puts it, this is writing from a ‘lone Bougainville voice’.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Bougainville Poetry: Mungkas-man and his Buai

By Leonard Fong Roka
if you are a buai chewer as many are across Bougainville I know you will love this song from a Panguna man and regular lover of buai.
It is our Bougainville culture. We go down to Arawa with baskets of buai to attract attention from people or to openly social as extroverts.
Mungkas-man and his Buai
Chit-chat. Chat-chit; chit-chat

Sweet talk and peace to the soul

Sweet song and love to the soul

Sweet touch and joy to the soul

The Mungkas-man

Strolling down the road to Arawa

Staggering stoic to the store-man

Sweat singing down his face

Loins laughing in the shimmering lawns

For the basket are green mountain nuts of Kaino

For the pocket to be money

Earnings for the day

Chit-chat. Chat-chit; chit-chat

Sweet talk and peace to the soul

Sweet song and love to the soul

Sweet touch and joy to the soul

The Mungkas-man

Steals the show to his pride

The meet loves his crimson red mouth and the stream of his words

The day frisks the Kaino basket

The magicians just belch out more song

The Kaino lasso stretches out for more love

That is nothing but buai

That moves down her spine and across her heart

Singing ‘kara ko ameai, aung’.

Chit-chat. Chat-chit; chit-chat

Sweet talk and peace to the soul

Sweet song and love to the soul

Sweet touch and joy to the soul

Of the

Bougainvillean man.



Mungkas— ‘black’ in Buin

Kara ko ameai— ‘give me areca nuts’ in Nasioi

Aung— ‘hey’ to a male

Buai— areca nut

Friday, 19 April 2013

Geography, migration, weakness of Oral records and conflict in Nagovis

By Leonard Fong Roka

On the 14 September 2012, the blog New Dawn on Bougainville reported a story titled ‘Situation Tense in Bana’ where a person was killed in the Jaba area of Panguna as a result of a conflict that started off some 3 months earlier.

The conflict was a land related issue at the former Bougainville Copper Limited’s farm site of Mananau purchased and settled by the Nagovis’s mountain people of Damane in the hinterland of the Bana district.
The crisis and death of late Kakaleu (pictured) was over a piece of land that had passed through a number of hands over time. Thus, as we know it, oral histories’ negative aspect is that, it is subjected to ‘addition and subtraction’ over time unlike a written piece of history.

In my distant observation, both the killers and the killed were all victims of a land history that went wrong somewhere down the history lane and affected a generation that adopted wrong stories and land boundaries.

After a long period of confrontations, Kakaleu knifed Poarima, his rival over the piece of land, and some of his family members seriously wounding them. Then he fled into the Tumpusiong Valley where he was occupied with alluvial gold mining. His victims were hospitalized at Buka and survived to come back for him.

After a brief search, he was identified by a spy and Poarima, armed with guns and knives raided Kakaleu’s hideout and caught him off guard in the morning hours occupied with his gold panning tasks where he was shot and then slashed with bush knives as pay back just below my hamlet.

But to get deeper into the conflict, I with little insight into the nature of the Nagovis area, of course where my roots are, turn to give some underlying factors to many issues of conflict related to land that is causing death through killing and sorcery accusations.

Wikipedia claims that the Solomon Island of Bougainville was settled some 33 000 years ago. If so, these recorded dates should be in the South Bougainville where most oral history says the majority of us in Central and south Bougainville originated from.

When oral history of all central Bougainville traces back time, the Nagovis area of the Bana District of south Bougainville naturally turns out as the stage of distribution of peoples, from here people have went into the mountainous areas of Damane and beyond into the Kongara area of Kieta; people had gone into the Banoni and beyond into the Torokina area; people had crossed into the Panguna area and more. All these prehistoric movements began from the Nagovis area.

This history makes the Nagovis area are volatile region to changes of people movements; there is an imprint, if I could ignore modernization in advance. Yes, and that scar carried the Nagovis area into the era of colonization. With the German established copra and cocoa plantations on Kekereka, what is now Arawa,  the Nagovis and Siwai people had what remains in the memory of the dying old, the Kaupara trail that laborers employed through the Panguna area; through the Crown Prince Range and into Kupe and onto Arawa in the coast.

But modernization had interrupted that movement. People are now settled in stable village lifestyles. But the Nagovis area, under modernization had other natural factors that keep people on the move and prehistory, as I see it, faced this same phenomena.

Analyzing the Nagovis area landform, the catalyst of migration can be pinpointed in its geographical make-up. Around 60-70 percent of the Nagovis land is a plain starting from the coast. In this plain area, a large portion is made up of marshland with patches of fertile land; this belt occupies most of South Bougainville but for the Nagovis area, it begins from the Koiare Island (referred to as an island because it is in between the sea and a impenetrable swamplands) and Katauri and fades into the Baitsi section that borders Siwai to Nagovis and Banoni.

This plain belt of marshland is thinly populated but is the largest land area of the Nagovis with the coast being the Banoni area.

Linked to this belt is a thin in width, line of fertile and over populated belt that stretches parallel to the marshlands of Nagovis starting from the Panguna area and ending in the hinterland of the Baitsi area near Siwai. Most of the Panguna to Siwai highway is located with this belt or else, majority of the marshland of Nagovis is between the highway and the coast.

This overpopulated and fertile line of land is the immediate product of ages of erosion of the steep Damane mountains of which is the built up of ranges and peaks that create one of Bougainville’s highest peak, the Mount Takuang.

The land in the Damane area produces less when assessing it to cash crop production like cocoa and so on. But the human population here is larger like the mid-Nagovis belt. So here, in the Damane, I see conflict between the man and his environment in the modernized Bougainville where cash economy is a need for the people and it is a conflict that is causing death to my people.

The main villages that make up the Damane area are Sipi, Okaru, Sikoto and Siandaro.

The Damane people, since being in economically hostile environments, have invested in the marshlands of Nagovis where the population is thin. They buy land and settle here in their cocoa blocks and operated retail outlets and even transport businesses. They even operate retail outlets in Arawa, Panguna and all corners of Bougainville. They also make up the majority of the alluvial gold miners in my home, the Tumpusiong Valley.

But as I observe the Nagovis transmigration, from the Damane to the marshlands of Nagovis, there is a lack of permanency. People move to and fro, thus creating avenues of problems. I did asked some of these Damane people, whom were my clansmen, their stories of the land purchasing down in the plains and got the fact that buying land in the plains had existed into the prehistory.

But our awareness is solely fresh with our recent history. Land purchasing existed in the 1960s, as I noted, but skyrocketed in the 1970s, 80s and up. And to most, an arranged marriage for the sole purpose of securing land was a norm today as it was, some years back.

However, I have mentioned it, that permanent settlement to one place for a Damane man was not a norm; they still considered, Damane and their new place, as home. This, as I have observed, creates a room for liars to impinge boundaries and create new boundaries; con men to fool the original landowner that he is a relative of the man who bought land from him years ago; or a rascal who come and sells off land to another buyer looking for land.

So conflict is now centered on these shortfalls of land occupation and changes and in Bougainville, where there are guns, man has to suffer and die.


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Bougainville Poetry: The Ulungasi’s Border of Injustice on Solomon

By Leonard Fong Roka

During the peak of the Bougainville conflict, when Bougainvillean boats reached shore safely in Western or Choiseul, villagers rushed to welcome our people with food, tears and request for stories of the latest happenings on their big island.

I wrote this piece to reflect some of these moments and their chit-chats.

The Ulungasi’s Border of Injustice on Solomon

Once I stood on the fine beaches of Choiseul Bay

Out there, before me, on Monahe, a landmass so imposing on me

I saw garden smoke belching out into the azure sky

I heard guns rumbling and gunships brawling

I heard my people been exploited and killed by the ulungasi

Of the distant places our myths never knew they existed

But there, across the peaceful sleeping sea, they were

Hunting my brothers and sisters of Monahe, that great hunting ground

Of my forefathers, for our land’s riches they had came for war o’er

Treasures that should have being ours

Without their mystery border line submerged beneath our seas

Seas that we owned; seas that we shared; seas that we died in since

The dream times that its heroic deeds and legends

The ulungasi knew not a strand of

But there they were

Killing and maiming my people; torching and looting their homes,

For nothing but the riches of our divided

Solomon Islands


Monahe—a word also found in Siwai languages but used more in the Western Province of Solomon Islands to refer to Bougainville

Ulungasi—‘redskin’ in the Nagovisi language of South Bougainville

Monday, 15 April 2013

The PNGDF roasted me on the tar

By Leonard Fong Roka

In 1989 when the government troops began raiding the Tumpusiong Valley; torching and looting homes, Noel Monoung who then a teenager, fled with his family to Siae village to be with their relatives inland from the provincial capital of North Solomons, Arawa.
Noel Monoung in 2012
Fear was now away in their home Panguna. They lived here as ordinary villagers concealing the fact that they were refugees from Panguna and now unsettled by violence on their own island.

For the young man, Siae village was freedom. He was everywhere doing whatever the locals did, of course, regularly missing his home in Panguna which was the subject of the PNG military frisking and destruction. Always he was eager for news from home if any.

He saw the PNGDF troops regularly but did not fear them; these were, he believed, a different lot from the men who woke his family and relatives in the Tumpusiong Valley with the scything of their guns and rumbling mortar one morning thus making him a refugee running for the safety of his life.

But his carefree life and scope of fear-freeness ended one fateful day that he, soon after walking out alive, went to join the militancy in late 1989.

On the week leading to his nightmare, a relative did ask Monoung to help him harvest and ferment cocoa and, after that, they would go selling the dry beans at Kieta. The sale was to earn some money for the Christmas season celebrations and some for Monoung for his labour.

Since he and his family were in a disadvantage position in earning cash, this was an opportunity for Monoung to get something into his pocket and wander off to Arawa whenever time permitted so he readily accepted the job and he worked hard.

Monoung was so excited after they had packed five bags of dry bean cocoa for, has his leader had promised, they would together go to Kieta to sell the produce and later on come to Arawa and Monoung would do some shopping for himself.

The next morning, Monoung was up early in anticipation, for directives from his senior relative. When the requested PMV arrived, Monoung was the first to be in the fermentary fighting with the mass of the cocoa bags with the help of the PMV crews.

Without any second thought Monoung and his relative were on the truck and they drove into town in joy. They left the serenity of Arawa and drove through the Kerei plains and coves and innocently arrived at the Kobuan PNGDF checkpoint just before climbing the Kieta hill.

They were stopped here by aggressive military men who were some hours were shot at by the militants.

Monoung who had already seated himself on the edge of the trailer that would allow him to watch the sea at Siae was there occupied by the bliss of the sleepy sea he watched when a angry soldier not in uniform barked at the travellers to get off the trunk.

Monoung was lost for words and in fear fighting hard to keep back his tears.

As they were disembarking, one of the PNGDF soldiers angrily shouted at them: ‘Did you see the trouble makers?’ Not an answer came as the people saw their local driver being pummeled by a handful of soldiers resulting in him urinating as he was kicked in the abdomen.

‘I nearly peed,’ Monoung recalled, ‘because I thought we were going to be killed. One soldier came forward and grabbed my little bag with a K10 note in it and walked away’.

As Monoung watched, one of the soldiers knifed the cocoa bags, shouting defiance at the locals. Then he moved at the travellers and began searching one of them. Seeing that he was the lone person doing the frisking, he ordered all to remove their shirts.

‘After all of us had removed our shirts,’ Monoung recalls, ‘the bastard ordered us to prone on the hot coal tar. I felt it burning my palm and hesitated but seeing one of the soldiers stepping onto the naked back of one of us I forced myself onto the frying heat of the midday sun’.

In the center of the road Monoung and his mates remained prone as other people and cars were being searched and left to go. They remain there in the mercy of the sun and the burning tar for not a crime.

‘There was not a bullet or any offensive item discovered,’Monoung told me, ‘but we were there obeying their orders because they had guns’.

Monoung had his belly burning with stinging pain but still he remained. There were no soldiers minding them for all were busy with other vehicles and people but the sun was there burning them bodies from the spine down whilst the shimmering coal tar was abrading from the belly up.

Then later, around 2 o’clock, a BCL vehicle arrived with some soldiers and one of them looked at them thoroughly and asked loudly: ‘Na ol displa lain ya wokim wanem? (what are these people doing?) and to that, and answer from a rouge soldier that seemingly had coastal features of New Guinea laughed and said: ‘Ol laik silip and silip stap, mipla salim ol lo take off pinis’ (They want to sleep so they are sleeping. We already ordered them to leave long ago’.

Then one of the soldiers and moved towards them and ordered them to disappear from his sight immediately so they slowly stood up and went for the vehicle.

When Monoung stood up, his belly had blisters and was stinging. He searched around to see if the soldier who took his bilum was there, but sadly he was not there nor was his bilum.

So they—all topless—climb onto the car and drove off towards Kieta when one of the soldiers aimed his gun on them and ordered them to turn back to Arawa.

On the trailer, the punished travellers were now sitting on the dry cocoa beans that were not littering the floor. All five backs of cocoa were knifed and not a bag was saleable.

So Monoung had made great losses of his dreams to the PNGDF that day in late 1989.

Later in the night back in the village he packed up his few belongings and left by foot for Panguna to join the militants.

‘I left because to me, at least, just borrowing a gun and firing at those BCL vehicles that carry the army everywhere was a release of the pain these armed men had given at Kobuan,’ Monoung said to me, ‘For I was roasted by the hot coal tar for no wrong done under that state of emergency laws’.

From then on, he served the BRA till 1997.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Colleen loves her Forestry Works as Life

By Leonard Fong Roka

‘One of the fundamental reasons of the Bougainville conflict was the environment carnage the Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) was doing on our island for the benefit of not us,’ Elizabeth Dapore told me. ‘Our project is now working to uphold that mission of protecting and promoting the preservation of our environment’.
The colleen, Elizabeth Dapore (photographed with one of her trees), is a Buin Secondary School leaver of 2011 that was unfortunate to secure a place in a tertiary institution. She hails from the Tumpusiong Valley of the Panguna District and now engaged herself with the Deumori Parish run Sipuru Forestry initiative in the mountains of Paruparu in the Evo-Torau Constituency of Central Bougainville.

The project was developed by the Deumori Catholic Parish (Panguna) during the crisis periods of the mid-1990s to revitalized awareness of the significance of the ecosystem and the importance of preservation of forest for the benefit of man. Furthermore, the parish saw that such an effort was a financial source for its administrative duties instead of pestering people for funds.

With the coming of the Bougainville Peace Process, many left the jungles in pursue of money, but Honiara educated forest officer, Bruno Irioai, kept faith in the project. He cared for it, that is, he kept creating nurseries and forestation exercise intact around the Paruparu and the Tumpusiong Valley.

In 2010, a local priest Fr. Bruno Dumarinu then revisited the site and teamed up with Irioai and the project began a rebirth and expansion.

Under the leadership of the parish council of Deumori, the project took on a new name Sipuru Forestry Training Centre which Elizabeth Dapore is now the administration officer in charge.

The school is located in the mountains and inaccessible by vehicles, however, it is believed the Paruparu road that is still under construction from the Tumpusiong Valley will further help the community project leap higher with it dreams for the Deumori parishioners.

But from people’s own effort and dedication the site has learning facilities that includes two classrooms for lectures and two dormitories for students and common kitchens. All built with bush materials. Students also grow their own food as part of the whole project.

According to Ms. Dapore, the centre now enrolls 21 students since formal classes were included in 2012. This lot of students will be graduating with certificates of attainment granted by the Deumori Catholic Parish in June this year.

Since last year, the school, at the request of people around Bougainville had toured other parts of Bougainville promoting and giving awareness of forestry, forestry management, preservation, lumbering with own farmed trees, the ecology, herbal medicine and the other significance of the initiative towards Bougainville’s future.

Ms. Dapore pointed out that between October 2012 and February 2013, they visited the Tinputz District in the north of Bougainville, and they had also visited many villages of the Panguna district and the Avaipa area.

With all these awareness, many villages of the Panguna District and the Evo-Torau are now so festooned with plantations of trees—young, and yet to mature trees—that is creating breath taking scenes on the villages. In some areas, cocoa has being removed to plant trees that had long extinct because of gardening. Such trees had to be brought in from distant places where natural forests are intact and put in nurseries then planted.

Ms. Dapore said that reforestation is not a job need intensive labour but rather, it should be made into a hobby by the people of Bougainville.

When asked if she had other plans for life apart from her position with the project, she said: ‘I love my job of promoting reforestation for the good of Bougainville. Land is our home and we have to protect it at all cost. I dedicated to my work’.

Her hamlet is now the nursery center of valuable and timber-worthy trees. From here, interested buyers will come to purchase the tree of their choice and the raise money goes to the Deumori Parish that then pays a little income to each forest workers.

Around her hamlet of Metari, in Tumpusiong, she and her siblings had planted a huge number of 4 000 small seedling of trees that are suitable for lumbering for their family which they plan to sell as well as for domestic consumption.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Bougainville Poetry: Innocent Still

By Leonard Fong Roka

In 1997, I was returning home after school from Arawa High School, when a bunch of wandering PNGDF soldiers met me and my two friends. One of them, a Tolai, looked me and a number of necklaces on my neck and said: ‘Hey, yu marit man?’ (Hey, are you are married man?).
They all laughed to our intimidated complexion as we fought to prevent tears trickling down our cheeks. After satisfying their need of molesting a trio of neatly uniformed Bougainvillean students they ordered us out of their sight.


The New Guinean barrel faces me

And my mouth waters.

The soldier teases me

And my ears burn…

But I am still innocent

Innocent as Jesus.


The New Guinean baton skins my head

And it bleeds furiously.

The policeman chains me up

And my wrist aches

But I am still innocent

Innocent as Jesus


The New Guinean law stool flattens me bums

And it loses me blood o’er.

The law man want me answers,

Yet I know no such crime

For I am still innocent; Innocent,

More than Jesus!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Bougainville Poetry: Barata Andrew, sumatin wantem gan

By Leonard Fong Roka

You translate this ‘personal story’ into PNG Tokpisin. Will it meet what my story telling intentions the way I wanted it to be? I do not know. But to me, I think translation would spoil my broth; so let PNG Tokpisin run with autonomy from English. With such an approach, Tokpisin can have its own evolution story in the future.
This a story of my friend, whom after a PNGDF soldier bit him up, he with another student stole a gun and escaped, then returned to hunt his foe back in Arawa in 1996.

Barata Andrew, sumatin wantem gan
Olgeta de taim san i go daun, mi save tingim yu

Mi save tingim desk bilong yumi long kona; ples mitupla bin save laikim tumas lo hait na pilai longlong lo ol meri lo klas

Na nau yu lusim mi pinis na stap we, em mi no save.

Yu stap Honiara, Auki, Gizo o Taro; em mi no save, tasol yu stap sam we lo hap!

Yes, tasol displa marara soldia i bin paitim yu nating olsem tru displa em Solomon bilong ol tumbuna blo em na yu bin lusim skul na mipla olgeta.

Yu bin hamamas tasol lo usim skul siot na trausis; raun wantem narapla ulungasi soldia, pulim gan bilong em na ranawe i go lo bus. Yu gutpla pikinini Bogenvil, oli bin kolim yu.

Bihain yu kam lo taun lo painim dispel birua ivitu bilong yu

Tasol em i ron igo hait namel long mipla ol sumatin bilong yu olsem meri na yu bin krai. Yu bin krai lo no kilim dispel man husat emi bin man taim yu sumatin nogat gan. Tasol taim yu sumatin wantem gan em i bin go hait.

Sore lo em na skul pait em i bin kisim lo Australia na Malaysia.

Barata Andrew, yu pait man tru. Yu no les lo Bekim hevi bilong na sutim wantem gan narapla erereng polis man na kisim narapela gan bilong yu. Yu man tru

Tasol lo wanem yu Lusim mi na go?

Mi krai stap lo Bogenvil.


Marara— redskin in Halia (Buka)

Ulungasi— redskin in Nagovisi

Ivitu— redskin in Telei or Buin

Erereng— redskin in Nasioi or Kieta

Bougainville Poetry: Ovau is my Island

Leonard Fong Roka

In 2002, standing on the golden beaches of Lontis on the northern tip of Buka Island, my eyes did not see New Britain nor New Ireland or Manus. In 2005, standing on the romantic beaches of Olava in Buin, I was shocked by what I saw; a peaceful complete Northern Solomons of jet-black people!
Bougainville south islands
Taking a boat trip across the evil international border to Ovau and looking back at Bougainville, my island was so beautiful and playful  to its little children like Ovau, Choiseul, and Shortland Island and so on.

I was sad and sick of the of the indoctrination my people are still subjected to by the laws and institutions of the Papua New Guineans that rule our island and the Solomon Islands that exploit Western Province and Choiseul Province and give back nothing to my black people.

But then I knew deep in my broken heart that, Ovau is my island.

Ovau is my Island


Ovau is my island.

Torau Bay knows that; Olava knows that; thus,

Moisuru and Tokuaka longs to hear that song of re-union.

Ovau is my island.

Kamaleai knows that; Ghaomai knows that; thus, Harehare loves to see that marriage

Of long lost lovers of Solomon.

Ovau is my island.

Toumoa knows that; Kariki knows that; thus, Birambira waits to cuddle the fruits

Of that love long denied by oppressors of the nation, Northern Solomon.

Ovau is my island.

Nukiki knows that; Poroporo knows that; Malivanga knows that; thus, Polomai

Is willing to nurture that love that is,

Ovau is my island.

Divine Word University’s 8th Blaqueville Nite in Pictures

The event was created in the mid-2000s by Bougainvillean students as a fundraiser for students’ awareness programs back home in Bougainville during their breaks as way into contributing back to their war ravaged Solomon island of Bougainville.
Main arena of SVD
The island is geographically and ethnically part of the Solomon Islands but colonialism disadvantaged it and it ended up in the exploitative and suppressive hands of Papua New Guinea in 1975 despite its resistance.

In the 1960s, regional hegemonic power, Australia created a huge mining on the island to develop its buffer state PNG. Bougainvillean resistance to mining and incorporation into PNG was plastered with false promises. In 1988 unsatisfied with environmental destruction by the Australian company and the subjugation by the influx of PNGeans commonly known as the Redskins by the islanders, a armed conflict broke out shutting the mine and freeing the island from intimidating Papua New Guineans.
Kietas from Central Bougainville preparing
But with ineffective leadership of the rebel leader, the late Francis Ona, the island sunk into a 10 year civil war that PNG waged with the full support of Australia.

Peace was brokered in 1997 by New Zealand. The island now struggles to come back as in all aspects of life with a referendum backed by the United Nations between 2015 and 2020 to decide their political future.

Blaqueville Nite is one such initiative where Bougainvilleans are trying to help themselves.
Here they show-case their cultures, regions, history, politics and so on in dramas, dances, songs, PowerPoint presentations, speeches for audiences who pay a fee.
Performance of Bamboo band one featuring of the Solomon people
Divine Word University's Dr. Jerry Semos from Buka giving a discourse of Bougainville politics
Lovely Bougainvillean tunes of the kaur being blown by students of Madang Technical and Divine Word for the South Bougainville show case
My two Sepik course mates, Rachel Rekeken & Maria Dolores Biaun (center girls) could not wait to get into the bliss of the Bougainvillean tranquility
Cute in some modern Bougainvillean mood of the night...Buka islanders pose in a corner for the camera
Bougainville still the best of the Solomon island chain. 'We gotta rock the night,' the lads claim.
Too bad, man, when I am in the spirit of my beloved Bougainville
Madang Technical College girls rocking the night the Bougainvillean way
This year, 2013, saw Bougainvilleans from Madang Technical College and Divine Word University combining for a common good. I believe some day, Madang Techers College could be a partner.
The Blaqueville Nite is a major fundraiser for the Bougainville Youths Foundation (BYF) that was formed to govern all Bougainvillean students in tertiary institutions across PNG.
If you need some information of this events, contact me on email, and I will pass the message on to rightful people.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Helicopter attack on Kupe and capture of Louis Kepetu

By Leonard Fong Roka

Louis Kepetu remembers well the words of the first PNG soldier who approached him with anger: ‘Tete bai yu dai, yu stink kok. Kuapim Francis Ona! Acting Rambo nabaut lo kain liklik ailan hia olsem tru yupla gat kain gun olsem army gat’ (Today you will die, you stink penis. Fuck Francis Ona! Acting Rambo on a tiny island like this as if you have the type of guns the army has).
PNGDF gunners in Bougainville
He was tortured by every soldier that hand a chance to punch his anger on him till he was weak.

Weeks after the capture of the Hellman Angkanu and the killing of Karebu at Bakabori village in 4 July 1989, the Kupe mountain villages were ordered to evacuate to Piruana. But the people did not like Piruana so we all flooded the Kaino village because it was closer to Kupe.

Most of our families left whilst a few did not like being forced out of their homes and instead went into hiding in the jungles and caves of the section of the Crown Prince Range, the mountainous backbone of our island.

Louis Kepetu and his wife and other villagers of Sirona cleared a series of caves near the village where they spent the nights and during the day time, after carefully observing the village below, they would come out of the bush and pass the day in the village.

Kupe is made up of two main villages: Sirona and Nengkenaro both separated by a gorge. And Sirona, the home of Kepetu, is glued on top of a cliff that forms the western side of this gorge and another smaller ravine that runs into this gorge from the south. This is the foot of the great Kaupara brae, seen from Arawa that once hosted a repeater station on the peak, which begins from the 1930 Kupe Gold mine fields to the north of Sirona to Turampa to the south. On the other side of the Kaupara is the Panguna Valley.

But on this hurtful day, their observation was not that accurate.

During the night a patrol of the PNGDF, that did not wish to burn down villages, had reached the empty Nengkenaro, where majority of its occupants—including me and my family—were already in Kaino with others escaped further into the jungles but did not bothered to visit homes out of fear.

At the hideout, Kepetu and his wife, ordered his brother, Akora and another relative to go to the village early and collect dry coconuts whilst he and his wife fetch some cassava from the garden so that they will spent the day making tamatama (a traditional Kieta dish made of food mashed in a mortar and pestle and heated on coconut milk).

Having done everything as planned the party was at Kepetu’s home doing the tamatama. Kepetu was inside the hauskuk processing the beaten food. The young men were outside engaged to the mortar and its pestle whilst Kepetu’s wife was away into the next hamlet searching for food to take back to the hideout when the PNGDF surrounded them.

As Akora was busy with the pestle and his friend serving food into the mortar, someone whistled at them. They looked towards the source and to their shock; it was a group of redskin soldiers having their guns aimed at them ready to fire. They looked at the other angle, but there were others approaching in, so the option to avoid torture was the cliff—some 500-700 meters long—but with occasional plants like orchids, ferns and other creepers and plants attached to it.

Without Kepetu’s knowledge, they darted over the cliff like skiers down a snow slope. They were gone with their mass carrying with them plants that could not withstand the force applied on them as they PNGDF men rushed to fire at them.

Kepetu, shocked by the sound of heavy boots, popped out to bump into soldiers running for the cliff with guns and hand grenades that were unleashing after the escapees that rocked the place.

Not sure if their bullets and grenades and done their purpose they all turned on the terrified and crying Kepetu and began torturing him. One of them shot the mortar with his gun whilst a bunch of them kicked all the food he was working on.

They gun-butted, kicked and punched him at will; his eyes could not see much as his ears could not hear, and blood was all over his body. Then they tied his hands behind him and began directing him towards the end they entered from as two helicopters arrived.

Down at Kaino, the whole population gathered around where my family and others were living, upon hearing the heavy gunfire with hope that some of our homes would go up in flames.

But we watched as the army choppers separated above Sirona; one headed towards the old gold mine site whilst another went for the southern edges. From these angles of approach huge guns began rocking our Kupe. They choppers fired their guns and passed each other above Sirona; complete one round and then repeated again.

Our women were crying as we watched the chopper attacking our home.

In the airborne machineguns attack, every hideout’s culture was infiltrated into: A little 7 year old Kaumonu (pictured below, and brother in law to Kepetu) was left behind crying by his parents as they ran for their lives with his infant sister; a 11 year old Kopuru threw away her little brother, Monona as she cried after losing sight of her mother; and a man called Nukua, was calling at his family: ‘Come and see the helicopter, they have placed a generator on it’ without knowing that it was the guns till he witness a betel nut cut down and tree branches felling and his pig pinned to the ground, that he ran away.
Kaumonu in 2012
The choppers crisscrossed firing at the jungle and villages till Kepetu was brought into Nengkenaro. One of the choppers was still hovering above when one landed and Kepetu was thrown into it with some soldiers and they climbed the Kaupara slope leaving behind the rest of the soldiers.

When they arrived at the PNGDF’s camp at Panguna, a BCL’s former worker’s residence known as Camp 10 turned into an international high school, there were already a dozen soldiers on the ground and one of the soldiers with him kicked him off before the chopper actually touched the ground and he landed on the mercy of a dozen stinging fists and was unconscious.

When consciousness returned, in was in one of the Panguna police cells. Tears ran freely but his cry made no sound; he felt life around him, but his hands could not reach out; he knew fellow Bougainvillean prisoners were crying and comforting him in his mother tongue, but he could not see nor answer them for all was dark.

Louis Kepetu now lives happily in his Kupe Mountains making business through gold panning and a little canteen that he shoulders his cargo from Kaino that is 2 hour walk by foot from Kupe where hired vehicles do their drop-off.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Bougainville Poetry:Island of Tears

By Leonard Fong Roka

Bougainville island is truly are sad story. Suppression, exploitation, belittlement, genocide and so on are what this Solomon Islander were subjected from colonialism and Papua New Guinea. They had fought for self determination and shamelessly PNG with the backing from Australia had tried suffocating them to extinction.
PNGDF mortar killed 9 children

A thief in his Africa;

A disease in his Australia;

An on-looker of his pride and wealth on Bougainville

He is…since

Many years ago

And gone…JOY of the LAND.

His progenitors roamed trouble free

From cave to cave;

Jungle to Jungle

With the law of the land

Prevalent in the laughing hearts and

Smiling across all seasons…

This’d very hearts

Of honesty and respect

Now in the boiling pot

Of white man’s civilization—free will and free choice—

Of living and dying in peace of relegation.

He gives and taughts

Flowers of expression

Not that black, but white.

Yet, o lord of cemeteries,

An expression,

A sorrowful black man gestures

To earn a wage of living behind bars of blockade;

Hearts pounding o’er and o’er again

Tearful in disgrace,

From ages of mimicry;

Earning a waving legacy

To live and mess in exile.

He dies an animal death

By a legal gunman

Empowered in bulk shipment

Of ideal law

From the perfect God of Zion

That swallows gasping belly

To  enrich this hand cups

To sting you generation

Chained in a line of slaves

Dwelling in worst misery hideouts

And filthy slums

Of emptiness and pain …

On the outskirts of your birthright

There you fight and kill

Squeezing your heart

To a strand of extinction …

Sun after sun

Tears storm your beds

Moaning the lost brothers

In the jungle of chaos,

Those petals of your joy

Carcassed by white divinity

Of peace and freedom …

Yet so colorful, Bougainville

Loved it then earned a living

In the harsh ridges…

Hearts sailing

For tomorrow is opaque

Like a fierce storm

Of destruction.