Leonard Fong Roka
Walking out of the University of Papua New Guinea in 2004 I was turned into a village spittle mortar in the center of Kieta consciousness. Thus writing my free style—not so sophisticated art form unique to me—poetry was my hideout from labels like ‘university for nothing’ and many more.
|Pomong U'tau of Dreams|
Having composed more than a hundred pieces of poetry had me thinking of a suitable title since 2007. The search was because in Kieta alone I had more than one place to called home; I had Kupe in the hinterland of Arawa, where I grew up in. I had the Tumpusiong Valley in Panguna where my mother is from; I had land right in the Bolabe Constituency in the Bana District of South Bougainville, and I had Kaspeke area in the hinterland of Koiare on the Banoni Coast but in the Eivo-Torau Constituency of Central Bougainville to call home.
But in all these places where my family has land rights and homes Pomong in the Kupe Mountains was appealing peacefully.
Unlike the rests, Pomong Hamlet in Kupe, in my matrilineal society of Kieta was a foreign land. But my grandmother purchased it from the relatives of my late grandfather who hailed from the Kupe-Topinang area.
But it is here that I grew up before the crisis; through the crisis; and after the crisis till 2004. And that is why I entitled my first book—a collection of poetry—in 2013, The Pomong U’tau of Dreams.
Pomong was a gardening land when my grandparents got married in the late 1950s and in the 1960s grandma purchased it with pigs, shell money and food. In 1983-4 my parents left the Tumpusiong Valley and settled here.
|Pomong in 2013|
I grew up here and thus decided to honor this little hamlet and land that today is bush covered for we have returned back to Tumpusiong Valley since 2004.
Pomong is desolated (my third 2014 book, Brokenville, has details) from the main villages of Kupe; it is tinned fished between a gigantic boulder, Birareko, to the east end and the Siro tributary gorge to the west end.
Every site around Pomong had connections to my childhood life as Pomong is.
Down on the Siro River, there is a pool called, Kenunaamiruu. In 1986, at the age of 7, I so feared the deeper sections of the pool. Father ordered me every day to swim across but I ignored him but one day he caught me unprepared and threw me into the water hysterically screaming for my life for I was to drown.
But I came out of the water wailing and vomiting water and darted into the bush. Then one day without my father I tested Kenunaamiruu and it did not hurt.
Then there was the Birareko. It was my hideout when parents gave me a smack for disobedience and so on. Birareko was also my hunting rock; its cave networks, and jungles that crowned her was my game area. It was also my picnic resort as a child and with other kids climbing it was fun.
Pomong also was where I spent most of my life. I was born in 1979 and from 1983-4 to 1997 Pomong was my home. But from 1997 to 2000, Arawa was my home; and from 2001 onward Tumpusiong Valley was my home.
My father also was killed by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army in 1993 whilst we were at Pomong. And Today Pomong is all bush covered and without life but my spirit will forever remain in Pomong in the cold Kupe Mountains.
So my 2013 poetry collection book, The Pomong U’tau of Dreams, is a monument paying homage to my childhood home of Pomong in the Kupe Mountains, Central Bougainville; and from Buin, in South Bougainville, where I am now and would permanently be residing it will be an honor to regularly visit Pomong and show respect, to my baby past.