By Gorethy Kenneth in Port Moresby
The youngest daughter of the Somare family Dulciana Somare-Brash told mourners the state funeral for Papua New Guinea’s Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare was a bittersweet occasion for her family.
“Today is a bittersweet day for my family, we come here to farewell our patriarch, our protector, and our human shield in a place where he stood to raise our flag [for independence] all those years ago for our new nation,” she said at Friday’s state funeral.
“It was here that he made his mark on this land, a land with plenty, beaming with resources that require our care now.
“Late yesterday [Thursday] afternoon I watched my father the great Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare leave Parliament for the last time.
“From 1982 when the Australian gifted that House, he would proudly walk proudly through its doors.
“Yesterday he was carried into the chamber and as he lay in state I fought back tears, that he had dreamt, then felt, then he had left for us to complete.
Sir Michael Somare … he became Papua New Guinea’s founding prime minister in 1975. Image: RNZ
“I wept bittersweet tears for all that he had left behind and all that he had abruptly left for us to do. Yesterday was a hard day sitting in Parliament, a building so familiar to me and my mother and my siblings.
“I heard wonderful tributes from my father’s peers, papa [Sir Julius] Chan spoke of a lifelong friendship, and papa [Paias] Wingti lamented over a mentor and friend he treasured.
“Prime Minister James Marape referred to my father as a bulldozer yesterday which makes perfect sense actually as we’ve always joked that our mother [Lady Veronica] was the handbrake without ever referring to our father as a bulldozer.”
The state funeral was held at the Sir Hubert Murray stadium in Port Moresby yesterday.
Today, the body of the Grand Chief will be flown to East Sepik ahead of his burial at his property in Wewak.
Thousands of people have converged on both Port Moresby and Wewak for the respective services to pay respects to Sir Michael, reports RNZ Pacific.
A screenshot from yesterday’s EMTV News live streaming on social media. Most news media carried live feeds of the four-hour funeral.
Gorethy Kenneth is a senior PNG Post-Courier reporter.
This post was originally published on Radio Free.