When we were planning the trip, Simon the director asked me if there is any village outside of Arawa where we can spend the night. Patty who’s been studying frogs says he wants to see some Bougainville frogs, so I emailed them two locations, one is in Kongara the Mane Resource and the other is Panam Village which Zhon Bosco sent to me lately. The team says both locations look great. I left the options open till we got to Lihir and will confirm which location to spend the night at.
We arrived in Morgen check point late in the evening. I asked for colonel Alex Dakamari but he went home, so I told the boys that we will be coming this way about 12pm tomorrow. Than we went to section 5 to see Meekamui General Chris Uma, when asked if he had some time the next day he told me no time only tonight. Told him that we will be staying at Sunrise guesthouse, he made it to Sunrise and the team did an interview with him.
On the morning of 21st June I took the team to the T-shirts shop near the white house to get a souvenir from my motherland. We went to ask a woman for an interview, but she was too busy so we went to the Arawa main market and I saw a woman who was outspoken in the protest march in February. I excused myself and told her that I was filming that time and if she can talk on the camera today. I briefed her about our mission and she told me that she knows no good side of mining, she will only tell the bad things which I told her was up to her.
The boys did the filming than we headed up to the customs to get the papers stamped. After that we went down to Loholo where the mine’s port is. From Lihir I confirmed with Thomas the owner of Panam Village resort and he expected us that evening. We went straight to the check point paid K500 for our entry and took some footage of the entry etc. We drove up to Panguna down to the pit, took as many pictures than down to Jaba River. It rained so we were hiding in some shops at the pump station. When the rain stopped the team went to Jaba River and took some footage of the people panning gold.
We hit the road to Nagovis later in the afternoon. Rodney the driver is from Nagovis so he bit of know the feeder road to Panam village. We left the main road and drove for some time following the new dug and gravel road till we turned left and followed a dead road and reached Panam village. Thomas and his villagers where ready to give us a big surprise. This was the first time after he builds the wind house, kaikai and the sleeping houses an international guest had come to his bush location. At one stage when talking with him on the phone he told me that he can’t handle overseas guest but I told him they don’t care about anything we just want to spend the night in a quite place like his. When we got out from the truck, they came over and put flowers on our necks we all struggled with our cameras to take pictures. The young boys blew the bamboo panpipes and the girls danced leading us to the wind house. Than short speeches from my 5-team members followed, the village chief, and women leader than myself last explaining to them that I campaign against big scale mining on Bougainville, but promote tourism for Bougainville that is why I choose this location for the team to come and rest.
We had a shower and a big dinner, than later fell into a deep sleep in a quite place resting and relaxing our minds away from the mining talk.
Thomas later told me that he was the proud man, many people laughed at him when he started planting flowers and building the houses. I sent a sms to Zhon Bosco thanking him for his support and good work about tourism in our motherland ending with, OUR ISLAND OUR PRIDE. He replies saying PROUD TO BE OSIKAIANG. Or Proud to be Indigenous.