FROM CLEANER TO TEABOY TO CLERK TO SOLOMONS PM: MANNASEH SOGAVARE

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By Sinclaire Solomon

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 4, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---From a cleaner to teaboy to clerk is how elder brother Pastor Moses Sogavare described the rise of Papua New Guinea-born Solomon Islands Prime Minister Mannaseh Sogavare (pronounced Songavareh).

"He is a very quiet person but a tireless worker who never leaves a task incomplete," Pastor Sogavare, who is in charge of the Seventh Day Adventist church at Gerehu, in the National Capital District, said yesterday.

"What he achieved, he achieved through his own effort with very little help from other members of his family."

Mannaseh Sogavare, who was Opposition Leader until his election as the Prime Minister in Honiara last Friday, was born in the Northern district (now Northern province) in 1955, the youngest son of a pioneer SDA missionary who came to Papua New Guinea from the Western province of the Solomon Islands in 1935.

With the exception of first brother Simeon (now deceased), the others - Moses, John, Samson (deceased), Jacob and Mannaseh - were all born in PNG.

The new Solomons PM spent his childhood in Northern province and early schooling on Manam Island, Bogia and Panip when the family moved to Madang province.

The Sogavare family is well known in the SDA circuit in PNG, with Moses and Samson following their father's footsteps by becoming ministers.

Pastor Sogavare said that when his father retired to the Solomon Islands in 1965, he took Jacob and Mannaseh with him while the elder brothers decided to remain and make PNG home.

He said Mannaseh dropped out of school after grade 8 because their father died and they could not afford the school fees.

He said young Mannaseh went to work for Chinese traders in Honiara doing odd jobs as cleaner, teaboy and cargo boy and saved up to finish his secondary education through correspondence.

His first permanent job was as a clerk in the Finance Department and through further studies in New Zealand and Fiji he slowly made his way up to become Finance Secretary before resigning to contest the 1997 elections.

Mr. Sogavare is a first term parliamentarian who has been to PNG on many occasions to visit his family members and friends.

"He is young for the job (prime minister) but he is mature in thinking and will do a good job. We are happy for him and we know God will look after him in his new job," Pastor Sogavare said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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