ARAWA

15 04 2013

When I was a small boy I used to go to the lookout stone called Sirivianare and watched Arawa growing into a busy and bigger town. But before going into the story I would like to say that there is no word from the Nasioi language which Arawa came from, so I tracked down what it means. During the old colonial days a white man came and when he saw an old women from Apiatei he asked her what is the name of this place, she replied in Apiatei, Aa raba, which is a question meaning, who are you? The white man called the place Arawa thinking that the old woman had told him the name of the place.

Anyway, in my early teens I sometimes accompanied my Papa and went to town as he usually laboured for the Europeans who worked at the mine. In those days I loved ice cream and chocolate biscuits with a chocolate cake that comes in a tin called big sister. We used to follow the bush track down straight to the end of town at section 16 which is still in use today.

As the development taking place was racing fast more and more PNG mainland citizen came to Arawa looking for jobs at the mine and the provincial governments as well as plantations. This led to the creation of the squatter settlements outside of section 16 and section 17 the place called Tongkuru and Damapongto and the bush track became dangerous to follow especially near town where the two rivers meet called Emang tave. Emang Tave was taken over by the squatters and we never followed the bush track from there anymore but a bit further up.

At the same time it became very dangerous for our mothers and sisters, aunties etc; they became victims of rape. Also the old people were targeted with younger man too for their belongings like money or any valuable things they carried going back and forth from the village and town.

The town that I thought will be nice and peaceful became a foreign town because by 6pm it became dangerous if you hang out loosely. Nevertheless the town itself was clean and attractive. During my late teens we used to hang around Arawa and mainly on Fridays we got drunk upstairs at the Auronava squash court by giving some money to the operator to let us drink there. Sometimes we ended up fighting with the PNG squatters. The Bougainville conflict just happened on time to save us from being pushed further inland up the mountains as the squatters were taking more areas outside Arawa. From Singpeng tave down towards Arawa village, down below Koaru waterfall. They didn’t even respect the black inhabitants in and around Arawa.

When the uprising became hot and Arawa turned into a battlefield I usually went to my favourite lookout Sirivianare and watched PNG security forces, choppers and armoured cars patrolling the streets and shared tears of regret that if mining and squatters were not here our beautiful Arawa would not be up in smoke.

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