By John Wanis
I still remember 16 September 1975 as though it was only yesterday.
Late Fr Kenneth Feehan SVD, the founding Headmaster of the then Catholic High School or SVD High School, now Divine Word University, told us all the students to go to the Madang District Headquarters at Yomba.
We witnessed the Australian Flag lowered for the last time in the afternoon of 15 September 1975. Neatly folded the Australian flag was handed back to the Australian District Administrators.
It was a very peaceful event. Many of us shed some tears for the flag which we came to know and sang, God save the Queen…. every morning for 6 or 7 years in primary schools. I was in grade seven, and without understanding the independence concept, I thought it was such a peaceful handover-takeover process.
The headmaster, Late Fr Kenneth Feehan told us to wait till 12 midnight, and when the clock struck 12 midnight, the then Governor-General, Late Sir John Guise’s voice came over the radio declaring our birth as a nation which was relayed through the school’s PA system, there was no TV. Our beloved country PNG was born.
Fireworks echoed throughout Madang Town for some hours, there were singing and dancing till daybreak, and we all participated at the oval near Tusbab High School the next morning, PNG was few hours old as an independent country and the celebrations continued for a week.
I am recalling and writing this for several reasons. Firstly, may we all put our hearts together and thank God our Heavenly Father that we are independent regardless of our socio-economic challenges. Secondly, may we all thank Australia from our hearts for allowing us to gain independence.
Thirdly, may we all wholeheartedly thank Sir Michael Somare and the other past leaders who had the courage and negotiated for impendence which was achieved. Finally, may we thank all our Members of Parliament, they are still running an independent nation.
We may not have money, but we can eat our local food from our land, sea, and forest and be content. We may have no car, but we can jump on a PMV or walk freely. We may not own a good permeant house; we can still enjoy our sleep-in peace under any form of roof.
I did not really understand what independence was from 1975 until this year. Anyone out there who, as I was, did not understand what independence was, should now realise what true independence is.
I pray that God bless our beloved brothers and sister over in West Papua. Thank God, we are independent indeed.
HAPPY 44TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY.