Sir Michael's final words

My dream for the country I have always loved is that we will institutionalise the principles of peace.

Those were the remarks of the founding father of this great nation, Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare, during his 80th birthday celebration in Wewak, East Sepik Province. He made the statement when he also officially announced his retirement from politics in front of his family, friends and diplomatic corps.

“My wish is that we will learn to treat our adopted system of government with unwavering respect. May we never let the sins of our own past dominate our ability to lead by example.”

He said as a young man from the 1960s, he knew he wanted political independence for us all. “I did not enjoy being treated as a native nor did I welcome being called a native.

“But my people of East Sepik made the transition to self-government possible through their complete and generational trust in my leadership.

 “In my life I worked locally and interacted globally and my national concerns have always been the most important to me,” recalled Sir Michael.

 “What I would like history to note is this: accountability, humility and passion sit at the centre of any kind of success.” People will always measure political success in different ways.

Sir Michael said only divine intervention from God helped him survive three heart surgeries in 2011.

“Even when the tide seems to turn on me in recent times, my people proved to me what I had begun to forget by supporting my political aspirations for this great country.

“When I appealed to Sepiks in 1968 to trust me to lead them from colonial rule to self-government, I had no idea that this would be a love story that would span over five decades.

 “Now I face the real prospect of releasing my official responsibilities and it is the hardest thing I have had to do in my life,” Sir Michael added.

He also acknowledged his wife Lady Veronica for her love and support for the last 50 years. “She was a young woman who changed my life so that I could have the credibility at home and professionally.”

Sir Michael further added that on the eve of his retirement from active politics, the inactivity for him will pose a few of its own challenges, as he was the East Sepik regional member for 48 years.

“PNG is a melting pot of tribes, clans and families that were never meant to be the same. It is a geographically impossible country to develop in terms of infrastructure.

“Therefore promising public goods and services can be made even more impossible when resources are heavily politicised.

“But despite all this, I have found that it is not a difficult nation to unite. National unity is our greatest gift to ourselves.” 


Freddy Mou