CBC celebrates independence in Unity and Diversity
- Nigel Akuani
Port Moresby: In commemoration of Papua New Guinea’s 45thIndependence Anniversary, a memorable independence celebration was held by staff of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNGSI.
The event held on Tuesday 15th September, at its headquarters in Gordons, had the full engagement of both its local and expatriate staff that included Priests, Religious, and laity. Also present was His Excellency Bishop Otto Separy, Bishop of Bereina; members from Wantok Nuispepa, Caritas Australia, Radio Maria, family and friends. More than sixty people joined the celebrations.
Fr Ambrose Pereira SDB, Secretary of Social Communications, delivered the opening prayer that officially kicked off the day’s program. A flag raising ceremony followed that was held at its carpark in front of its office building. Accompanying the raising of the flag was melodious singing of the country’s National Anthem and the recitation of the Pledge by the staff of CBC. Moderating the event was Sr Emma Lapun OLSH, Secretary of the Religious Education Commission.
In her opening speech, Marie Mondu, Secretary of Churches Institutional Strengthening Program (CISP), recalled the history of Papua New Guinea and said the celebration was a time of recollection, appreciation and pride in the sovereignty of the country. “Every September 16th, our nation celebrates its independence and freedom. Our forefathers and leaders who struggled to secure our independence as a nation deserve to be remembered not only on September 16 but always,” she said.
She thanked past leaders for their effort in driving the country forward since 1975, and urged for them to always value at heart the wellbeing of the people. “As a nation, we need good leaders who we can trust, the kind of leaders who always put the public's wellbeing above their political or personal interests so that the yearnings and aspirations of the common people can be realized,” she stated.
A heart moving Independence speech was later given by Michael Ova, National Catholic Education Secretary. Recalling his younger years during the periods of post and pre-independence, he admitted that gaining it was a struggle, but it was only made possible through sheer determination. “In the years before Independence, in teachers’ colleges issues relating to independence were already been discussed and this is when Michael Somare and his bulletin club took the stance and pushed for it,” he said.
He described Independence Day as a time to take pride and be proud, and most importantly as a time of unity as one people. “In the 70s and 80s our forefathers and people had a strong sense of unity and camaraderie, we respected, stood and shared with each other. This is something that is lacking in many of our young people and adults today. Where did we go wrong?” he questioned.
Independence Committee Chairperson and Laity Commission Secretary, Eva Wangihama, congratulated everyone for their committed effort in successfully hosting their 45th pre-independence anniversary regional exhibition.
Sr Ancy John, Secretary of Right Relationship in Ministry, and originally from India, described the celebrations as a day of gratitude to God for all his blessings on this great Nation. “This is a time to look at the past with gratitude for all the leaders, governments and the many people who worked day in and out and sacrificed their lives for this independence. I am very happy and privileged to celebrate this day in PNG with the PNG people,” she said.
Fr. Giorgio Licini PIME, General Secretary of CBCPNGSI, cut the ribbon that officially opened the program’s main event, a Regional Exhibition Display. The fun filled day had participants divided into the four regions of Papua New Guinea namely Highlands, Momase, New Guinea Islands, and the Southern.
An exhibition of traditional items, food and beverages, from the four regions were showcased as Judges and audiences had the privilege to move between booths to observe. A quiz comprising of ten questions was given at the end to test participants on their knowledge of the country’s history before and after gaining independence.
Four secret judges were appointed, tasked with evaluating presentations given. Judges were Fr Giorgio Licini; Paul Harricknen, President of the Catholic Professional Society of PNG; Steven Farapo, Senior Journalist of Wantok Niuspepa; and Cathy Maso from Caritas Australia.
As the day’s activities progressed, a mouthwatering buffet complimented by organic and refreshing kulau coconut juice, were also served for all to enjoy.
Participants were later awarded prizes based on overall group performance in presenting their traditional items, and the region that scored the most correct answers in the short quiz. Cutting and sharing of a dark chocolate cake ended the momentous day’s celebrations before everyone finally departed for home.