Monday, September 15, 2014

HOW JERRY NALAU ALTERED THE ROYAL INDEPENDENCE TOUR OF 1975



Sir Jerry Nalau
In 1975, Jerry Nalau, became one of the first Papua New Guineans to become  a District Commissioner  when powers were transferred  from the Australian Colonial  administration to the new Papua New Guinea government.
        The  young patrol  officer  who was then already  a veteran  in the new administration became one of the few  Morobeans   sent to Kunidiawa  in the Simbu Province  as part of  the Somare’s administration to help unite the new country.
        “Somare said to me: ‘I want you to go to the highlands.’ And I said: ‘Somare, I’m not the only one! What about the others?’”
        By then,  Jerry Nalau had already served several years  in Bougainville and Rabaul  during  the  turbulent  but  positive  pre-independence period. 
        Nalau recalls that in typical Somare humor, the Chief Minister responded: “You go to the highlands because you Finchafens took the  Word of God  to the highlands calling God’s name… Anutu… Anutu…Anutu… I think if you go, they will respect you.”
        It was a 13 hour flight  on  a  slow DC3 that  eventually took Jerry Nalau from Bougainville  to  Minj.
        “Back then, large planes didn’t land at Kuniawa. We landed at Minj and travelled by road to  Kundiawa.”
        Now in his mid-seventies,  Sir Jerry Nalau,  former patrol officer, former Morobe premier,  says  with hint of mischief,  that Chief Minister, Michael Somare,  had told him that he could have whatever he asked for,   later,  if he agreed to take the assignment to the highlands.
        So when Independence  came and the  Charles, the Prince of Wales, representing  Queen Elizabeth II, was due to arrive,  Jerry Nalau called the soon to be Prime Minister Somare.
        “According to the Prince’s itinerary, he was to travel to Manus to Wewak  then onwards to Goroka. Then drive through Simbu and then rest in Mt. Hagen.”
        “I called Somare and I said: ‘Somare, do you remember what you said? You sent me from Bougainville  to Simbu and you promised you would give me whatever I wanted later.”
        “So I have a small request: I want Prince Charles to sleep in Kundiawa instead of going straight to Hagen.”
        According to Sir Jerry,  Somare  returned his call  15 minutes later. The new Prime Minister granted his request after going through a lot of trouble.
        “He said later, ‘Jerry, it was a problem to me but your request is granted.’”
        The Prince rested in Kundiawa.

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