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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Pomong—the Hamlet I Grew Up In and its place as book title

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.


Monday, 12 May 2014

We are building a nation: Bougainville officers tell students

Leonard Fong Roka

Divine Word University students were fortunate to get updates from Bougainville Administration officers undertaking short courses under the university’s Faculty of Flexible Learning (FFL) on campus. In an informal gathering on the Sunday, 13 April, Bougainville administration officers told excited students that Bougainville was moving forward and not backwards.
The officers namely David Kelele from the Education Division’s Teacher In-service wing, Tommy Samson from the Human Resources and Corporate Services, Graham Kakarauts from the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) a body jointly made up of the PNG and Bougainville that looks at the implementation of the autonomy and so on and Mrs. Manah Kakarauts from the Community Development section. 

David Kelele briefed students on the completed Bougainville Education Act. He said under the act Bougainville will be now independent from PNG on its pursued of educational development and progress.

Bougainville has now 12 secondary schools and some of these are still developing. With all the changes a few have turned into technical secondary schools that specialized in practical and theoretical teaching like Bishop Wade Secondary. Formerly there were a number of vocational schools but now due to amalgamation with secondary schools Bougainville is only left with three vocational schools one of which is Metonai in Kieta.

Bougainville is also actively rolling out adult literacy schools across Bougainville which is producing positive outcomes on the lost generation.

Soon Bougainville will be setting its own teachers college in Buin and nursing college in an undisclosed location to end the flow of Bougainvilleans out of the island. Whilst investing on these developments Bougainville has plans to develop its own university soon.

Tommy Samson, Mrs. Manah Kakarauts and Mr. Graham Kakarauts supported Mr. Kelele by adding that all the new laws by Bougainville, that are Bougainville Public Service and Administration Law, Bougainville Public Finance and Management Law and Bougainville Contract and Supply Law are having Bougainville more independent from PNG and serves young Bougainvilleans to take over their rights to make decisions for their island.

‘The current government is building your foundation,’ the group told students, ‘and it you who will build that independent Bougainville we have suffered and died for.’

According to the team Bougainville is now getting all the powers and functions in the areas like having own laws like police laws and laws on Civil Registry that will soon be established on all regions of Bougainville. Bougainville has now own laws on community development and this laws are also functioning and under it the 405 Bougainville athletes will be in PNG games in November 2014. This will also further boost Bougainville sporting and development issues effectively.

Bougainville is currently undergoing massive changes at the policy levels as it moves towards referendum.

With its police also independent with the new Bougainville Police Act, under the developing laws, all citizens will be subject to law. In PNG politicians escape law but in Bougainville that will be not the case, they will face the law.

The new laws also control power play in the political level. The Bougainville president will not be too powerful over the Administrative Service but rather have control over each other or operate with checks and balances. Bougainville is learning the bad politics in PNG and thus making it politics to be free from self-interest driven law changing culture of PNG.

In summing the meeting, Mr. Graham Kakarauts told students to be ready to go back home and built their nation after graduating.

‘Students,’ he said, ‘We are moving forward and not backwards; we are building a nation that will need you young Bougainvilleans to carry forward. Our leaders have contributed their part in the fight; I am doing my part and soon I will step down, so it is you the youth with energy will move our Bougainville nation forward.’