In 1992 after the first cease fire when the PNG security forces were back on the Island again the fighting was very hot in parts of Morgen junction, Tunuru, Loloho and Arawa. Three choppers had been flying back and forth over my village. When they came through we used to run to the bushes or under houses so that they wouldn’t see us.
I was in my early twenties at the time. One particular week we saw one chopper dropping leaflets, lots of them and they looked like birds been shots in the air and dropping downwards lifeless. Out of curiosity we rushed to where we could get a good view and than we managed to pick a few of them up.
It read: THE MOST DANGEROURS MILITANT ELEMENT IS CHRIS UMA AND HIS BAND OF MILITANTS. They killed innocent people, men and women like pigs.
Wah, Chris Uma is from the next valley to ours, however I hadn’t met him personally and didn’t know him well at that time. We knew him as a BRA B Company Commander and a freedom fighter. Never the less, nobody took any action in bringing him to the security forces or us going down to the care centre for safety as they mentioned on the leaflet.
Later on when I got to know him well I didn’t know that he played guitar or is interested in music. When we talked about music briefly he used to tell me that he likes one of my struggle or freedom songs best. In 2011 when I was working on my film Saving Our Land I made an appointment to interview him. After the interview he told me that he and his boys are buying musical instruments and that only drums are yet to be bought.
This year when he saw me in Arawa, he called me and said that they bought the drums already and they will have a talent night on Saturday. He invited me to go over to section 5, so I went there with my three brothers. Upon arrival there were some young boys singing but we couldn’t locate him. One of my brothers went over to his house and called him, telling him that Clive is here and wants to see him play and sing.
After a few other bands his band went on to the stage, The Karioi Band. I was very surprised because I haven’t seen him playing the guitar and singing before, so it was a great moment. His first song is about the long leg bird, which used to follow the river we call Kovi and the second song is a song of freedom, followed on by a few others.
Later he told me and my brothers that when he plays guitar and sings with the boys he feels better and has peace of mind from the jungle of politics. Here we are, music is playing its part into turning a Freedom fighter or the most dangerous militant into a peace loving Mekamuian.