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Late MP described as humble, yet great leader

By Harlyne Joku PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Mar. 18, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), tears, laughter and cheers marked the funeral service of a Melanesian icon, the late Dr. Bernard Narokobi at Port Moresby’s St Joseph Catholic Parish which was packed to capacity yesterday.

PNG and Pacific leaders including the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, New Zealand High Commissioner Neil Holmes, Head of State of Samoa Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese, Deputy Opposition Leader Bart Philemon, John Momis and Catholic Bishop Cherubim Dambui paid tribute to him.

They described him as a simple, humble man but a great Melanesian leader and hero who inspired many.

The Chief, Sir Michael, was one of Bernard Narokobi’s ex-teachers at Brandi High School in East Sepik when he was a student.

He described him as a true Melanesian leader and a son of the Sepik people whom they were proud of. Samoan leader Tamasese said the late Narokobi was his hero and one of the Pacific’s most famous writers who helped indigenous movements in the Pacific to move towards decolonization.

New Zealand High Commissioner to PNG Neil Holmes described him as a truly humble man.

Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia paid tribute to the late leader for making an enormous contribution to the development of the legal system, particularly the bench. Sir Salamo described Narokobi as PNG’s most intelligent human rights lawyer and philosopher.

Bart Philemon, a close colleague of the late Narokobi, brought laughter to the serious occasion when he gave his personal encounters of Narokobi who asked him once when they visited Launakalana cattle and sheep project how to work out the sex of a sheep.

Bishop Cherubim, his school mate also made the congregation laugh when he said the late Narokobi was religious and a man of prayer since his young days. He had wanted to become a priest but Bishop Cherubim discouraged him and urged him to be a leader, have a wife and many children.

The Bishop instead became the priest and said it was a case of "man proposes, God responds".

Bishop Cherubim said the late Narokobi became a great leader through humbleness, sheer honesty and hard work.

The most emotional and touching tributes that brought tears to the eyes of many came from his family, Vergil, his son, and Benedine his daughter, niece Faith Narokobi and grandson Edmond Narokobi.

Virgil said he was proud of his father who was a simple and humble man.

He who gave the eulogy said their family was most fortunate and blessed to have had a father like the late Narokobi who gave them the best with all his heart.

"Dad was not perfect but never stopped trying to be holy. He died a faithful PNG servant but put God first in everything he did. He lived simply.

"There were no airs and graces about him. What you see is what you get," Vergil said and brought the audience applauding His grandson Edmond said all Narokobi’s grandchildren will miss him on their birthdays because he always gave them a treat and nice presents.

His daughter Benedine brought tears to the eyes of many when she described him as "the best dad in the world, a super dad given super powers by God."

The late Bernard Narokobi’s casket will be flown to Wewak this afternoon and he will be laid to rest at his village, Wautogik, on Saturday.

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