In 1992 the PNG security force made a comeback to Mekamui/Bougainville after pulling out from the Island when the first ceasefire was signed between the BRAs and the PNG Government and its security forces. They captured most of the coastal areas from Buka Island up to Arawa Township dropping leaflets from the choppers that people must come to their bases because they will bombard jungles to flesh out the BRAs.
The villagers outside of Arawa fled to the mountains leaving their homes with whatever they could carry and worrying about their houses and other properties they couldn’t take with them. In many cases some rascals came in and helped themselves with whatever had been left behind. In our village my childhood friend Kevin [whom we called One Eye] and me decided to stay back in the village and look after the houses from any intruders or rascals.
We had no weapons just bows and arrows with sling, however it made life a little easier for the villagers when they came back to the village and their gardens with not much fear because if the soldiers were at the village we would notify them not to come for there is danger. Others saw that it’s a good idea so they came and joined us and we kind of teamed up well with no weapons but with one spirit and thoughts. We had one guitar so every night we sang songs that I wrote about the struggles and as well as love songs to keep us going and forget that we were in a war and the enemy was just less than 50 minutes walk down in Arawa.
When the security forces launched mortar from Arawa it flew over us and fell upon the mountains killing the trees and bushes. In early 1993 the war got a little hot so somehow we ended up with some kind of weapons to defend ourselves, our people and our land from the offensive undisciplined Army.
One Eye and myself slept less waking up early in the mornings to patrol around the village and the gardens nearby as we gave time and days for the villagers from the bush camps to come to the village and gardens to get food and what they needed. The lives of the villagers were in our hands in those days, if any mistake and they were killed that means we are not doing our job well.
I was on call and moved around a lot, so One Eye one day left for the Solomons when I was away in the Panguna area. When I returned they told me that One Eye left for Honiara, he would be back in one-month time. Upon his absent another comrade became my best friend, Nuna although he was from the Manetai area.
In late 1993 I was shot in an ambush by PNG security and the resistance forces and for the rest of the festive season of that year and the beginning of 1994 I laid in the bush camp of my relatives. Nuna after hearing about me came and cried over me but I told him I am ok will back to ops sometimes soon. 1994 went quickly, I didn’t say goodbye to my best comrade Nuna and left for the Solomons for medical assistance. When I arrived in Taro, Choiscel Province in the night I met One Eye but had to leave him after two days on my way to Honiara.
The war continued on the ground Panguna mine must be reopened at any cost on both waring side. While I was on the bus in Honiara a comrade from Kongara told me that one guy from my village was killed by the security forces and his body was dumped in a house and they burned the house. Tears fell from my eyes and my heart felt like a sharp object cutting me, it was my childhood friend none other than One Eye. When he returned back from the Solomons he was attending Arawa High School, so that day he was going to school in the morning when the soldiers took him away. The day before BRAs did a shootout in Arawa, so the soldiers thought he was one of them or it’s for payback again. While we were looking after our village we had been making plans that when the war was over we would start all over again with our lives and start a new life and new love.
After a couple of months another sad news reached me, Nuna my best friend was shot in Nagovis. Tears of sorrow flowed again, I questioned how long would the war goe, it’s a sad, sad situation. Much blood and tears had washed our mother Mekamui, it’s for you and your childrens freedom. My comrade’s thought will be a living memory of yesterday.