Tuesday, August 5, 2014

CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF JERRY GINUA - A TRUE MELANESIAN JOURNALIST



Four days since  his passing, I've finally mustered the courage  to write about this great man who taught me a lot.  These words, however,  will be forever inadequate for he was greater than the descriptions in this blog post.  There is an emptiness for many of us who came after him.  It is the loss not of a journalist but of an older brother and a humble leader in his own right.

So let this piece be a celebration of  his life.  For being human  is all we can be in this life.   

We can never be perfect and flawless.  We can only be as honest as we can be and as honorable  as our human will permits us to be.  It is impossible not to make mistakes.  For  the absence of mistakes rarely means  perfection. It means  stagnation in the  journey of our lives.   Somebody somewhere has had to make mistakes in order for some level of  perfection to occur.  Somebody somewhere has had to make mistakes in order to us to learn from  the lessons.  

Jerry Ginua was the embodiment of  it all.  He was not  perfect.   What stood out with him was that he never claimed to be.  He would admit that he was wrong.   He would always be brutally honest  when things went bad and he would  take responsibility and never complain. 

He made as many mistakes  as  were humanly possible.   He learned many lessons and his lessons were ours as well.   He had the guts to make those many mistakes, to learn from the experiences  and in turn pass on those lessons.  He was generous enough to share  so that others younger than him – others  like me  - could become better. 

One of the most valuable skillI learned from Jerry Ginua  was that  of relationship building and diplomacy.  Jerry was the  “Melanesian journalist”  in the truest  sense.   He  was a master at building and maintaining  relationships.    He had the natural ability  to establish contact  and build trust.   I learnt from him that  no matter how difficult the story got,  you should never lie  and you should never mince your words if either  party in the story felt aggrieved or angered.  Above all, never run  from difficulty.

Jerry never sought the fame and the attention that television  tended to bring.  He was very humble for a person who spoke to Papua New Guinea’s prime ministers  and decision makers.    I never saw him wear  shoes or tuck his shirt for a whole month.  But you could be sure he would wear a tie when it mattered: In front of the camera. Television was – at the end of the day – just a job.

Jerry taught me that TV journalism was a 24-hour-7-days-a-week job.  He taught me that television life was unglamorous, difficult and dangerous.   On one or two occasions, he was punched and verbally abused.  He always saw the fun side of  things and would later guide us on how do things better.   If a story happened,  he would be there while the rest of us were asleep.   He would attend  a seemingly  mundane dinner party  and come back with  an angle that would be headline news the next day.

During the Sandline Crisis in 1997,   Jerry Ginua,  Benny Malaisa  and  cameramen – Jerry Kuasi and Francis  Benny,  shot  some  of the best exclusive footage for EMTV.  Channel 9, Channel 10, Channel 7 and other major networks carried these pictures.   They filmed the assault of PNGDF  officers by fellow members as well as the burning of  the former commander’s car late at night.   They filmed the Siege  of Parliament   by PNGDF soldiers.
As I said,  Jerry was a master at building relationships and those relationships served him well. 

With me, Jerry never shared a great deal of his personal life.   We were professionals in every sense of the word.  But that did not stop him from providing guidance when I was not paying attention to what mattered:  Family.  He would be stern like a big brother would and keep me away from what he did not  want me to see.  He would always be there to back me up  where  I fell short in terms of experience and wisdom.

 He allowed only a  glimpse of  what he thought and felt.  But there is no question about the fact that his life revolved around his children and  his home. These were things that were very important to him. 

If there was anyone who was not  afraid to live,  to make mistakes and to pass on those important lessons to those who came after him,  it would be Jerry.  It is with these words -  as inadequate as they are -  that I wish to celebrate the life of Jerry Ginua. 

3 comments:

  1. A true Melanesian writer, his legacy will remain forever. My his soul rest in Peace.

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  2. He is a true Melanesian Journalist, a Mentor and a Father to many of us. His legacy will remain forever. May his soul rest in eternal Peace.

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