Gregory Bablis, March 1 2021
In the afternoon of Thursday 25 February 2021 I visited the birthplace of ToPalangat at Matupit, Old Rabaul Town. A memorial stone marks the site of the old hospital where he was born in 1936. Just a few hours after the visit he would pass away. In the background of the memorial is the active volcano, Tavurvur. When ToPalangat was one years old, both Tavurvur and Vulcan erupted simultaneously.
A volcano is a natural force to be reckoned with. It keeps the source of its energy hidden deep within. Its fiery entrails can be destructive once out, wiping clean the old, forcing change and allowing for new developments. Though deadly force inheres in a volcano, the soil it produces can be highly fertile and conducive for new gardens and civilizations to flourish in its aftermath.
Tavurvur witnessed the birth of Michael and then welcomed him in 1937 with an eruption. It was as if the giant in the background superimposed some of its own qualities onto the baby Michael. Qualities that would shape his personality and future style of leadership.
Vale Sir Michael Somare!
The Matupit community are also in mourning. They will be cleaning the birthplace memorial and hosting a haus krai to coincide with the national mourning program.