I guess the significance and impact my father had on those around would be relatively unknown to me until his untimely death on March 27 at the Port Moresby General Hospital. It was only after his death that his life was finally celebrated.
My father, Hosea, was the eldest son of Mark Nombay and Helen Bobwaleu. He used his grandfather’s name Sinai (which I also use). He was born in a hamlet in 1958 at Korojih village and as a child showed exceptional intelligence.
In 1966 he was enrolled at the local Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) run school in Likum village where he did grades one to four. He would do grade five at Lokobou, another mission school at Bundrahei village and then in 1972 he went to do grade 6 at Pisik in Lou. His quest for education would eventually take him away from Manus.
In 1973 dad was selected to do his grade 7 or as they would call it at the time Form 1 at Kambumbu Adventist High School in East New Britain (ENB) and he was due to graduate in 1975. However, during that year he got suspended for a year and had to continue the next year.
His suspension came about as a result of him skipping a school day to watch a boxing match which featured his uncle Philip Sapak. Mr. Sapak was a representative boxer and had quite a following among Manusians. After the suspension, dad went on to Malaguna Technical and studied the trade of a motor mechanic. Unfortunately, he has only ever fixed one motor. It was also in that year that my grandfather died. Dad did not attend his funeral.
A year later, in 1977, he was offered a job with Hastings Deering in Bougainville and would join a large community of Manusians working at the Bougainville Copper Mine in Panguna. He would also marry a Bougainvillian woman by the name of Joan, the mother of my half-sister Freda. Unfortunately, the marriage did not last and he would later marry my mother Judith Anthony.
Dad’s working career as a mechanic did not last long as he would enroll at the University of Technology (Unitech) in 1978 and took up Civil Engineering. However, he did not complete the course and left a year later to work with the Lands Department.
He worked as a surveyor and travelled extensively in the Central Province. He was also one the first people to survey the areas of Moreguina and Kupiano. It was also during this time that he may have cheated death – twice.
The first incident involved some kind of black magic attack which a friend’s uncle, who was versed in this type of ancient knowledge, managed to avert. However, it was the second attack that seemed to really shake him.
The details are a bit sketchy but in short he did not go on a survey trip and so one of his colleagues went instead. Unfortunately, two of the surveyors who went on the trip were murdered and left in the banana plantation. The incident really shook him and he resigned the same day and sought other employment opportunities like a journalist with Word Publishing or Wantoks Niuspaper.
In 1982 he would move to Manus and work with then Premier Joel Maiah as Protocol Officer. It was also during that year that I was born at Loregnau General Hospital. It was the first time that he would be involved in politics and I guess he found it as a calling. He would also work with Nahau Rooney, one of the first female politicians and MPs, as the Press Officer and were living in Korobosea.
Dad was also fortunate to meet the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, during a visit to the country in 1984. This was thanks to then Governor General (GG), Sir Kingsford Dibela, who happened to be dad’s favorite tambu (in-law).
After Mrs Rooney lost her seat as the Open MP for Manus, dad worked in the private sector including a job with Bradford Investments buying and selling gold. However, in 1989 his uncle Moses died and dad had to return to the village to assume the mantle of family leadership.
In the village, he began to see life and politics from a different perspective so in 1992 he contested the Manus Open Seat. However, his attempt was unsuccessful but that did not deter him. Soon after he contested the Local Level Government (LLG) Presidential Seat and won.
He became a Provincial Minister and took the portfolio of Works and Transport. During his term he contributed so much to the development of the province including the sealed of the Manus Highway and the Loniu – Lorengau road. Sadly, these roads have not been maintained. He also took the lead in bringing MV Manus back to the country. Unfortunately, that too has been neglected.
In 1997 he was offered a job with then Open MP, Charlie Benjamin, as the First Secretary (FS). He took up the job and did not defend his seat. He worked with Benjamin until his [Benjamin’s] dismissal. In 2007 he joined the newly elected Open MP, Job Pomat, as the Press Officer.
He would work for Pomat until his untimely death on March 27, 2012 at around 8:20pm at the Port Moresby General Hospital after suffering a sudden stroke. His death not only shocked us but everyone he had come in touch with during his 54 years especially in Manus.
It was during his repatriation to Korojih village that I got a glimpse of how much he had impacted on the people of Manus. His repatriation and burial was taken over by the provincial government. At Momote airport, a motorcade took his body to Loniu Bridge were another motorcade of 9 motorized dinghies took us directly to the village.
His funeral was attended by representatives from the 12 LLGs of Manus and sympathies and condolences were coming in from all over the province. The people he worked with described him as ‘exceptional’ in his work. Mr. Pomat said he did not always do as he was told but he always did what he knew was right; even if that meant stepping on Pomat’s toes sometimes. Nahau Rooney simply said he was the best employee she ever had.
The people of Korojih are the ones that he has impacted most. He led an exemplary life especially in politics. He became the first person from the village to become an elected member of the provincial assembly. He also proved to be one of the most productive and was the key person in the Water Supply Project that was officially opened the day he was buried.
Before his death, we became exceptionally close when he stopped drinking. Alcohol was a large part of his life. It could have been the pressures of work or the habit he had acquired over the years but after a serious illness late last year, he finally decided to stop. He told me that it was God’s way of telling him it was time to stop. In a way it opened him up and he told me of his dreams, the things he wanted to do to help his people. Unfortunately, he died after achieving the first one.
Dad had always been quite proud of his political career. He always maintained that his Minister, Minister Pomat, was one of the few that were ‘incorruptible’. He was also very proud of the fact that in his 15 years in politics, he has never once stolen. He once told me of how someone had offered him K100, 000.00 in cash to endorse a contract which would cost K3000, 000.00. He turned the offer down.
I can confidently say dad’s only regret would have not been able to complete the many things he wanted to do. However, he achieved quite a lot during his life and I am proud to have called him my father.
R.I.P Dad. You always be in our hearts.
- A Brief History of MV Manus (bernardsinai.wordpress.com)