Bougainville has impacted our country in so many ways. Whether it was contributing to the economy, shaping of the constitution and system of governance, or the tragic years of conflict in 1988 to 1997 and in many other ways, Bougainville remains an integral part of PNG.
Today we enter another historical day for Bougainville and the rest of PNG. Whatever happens from here on will be historical, as it will impact our country and the history we shared. Despite the outcome, let us be comfortable with the fact that this nation of a thousand tribes is strong and it’s future is stronger because of this diversity. This is our strength and not our weakness. Diversity makes us stronger and we become better people and a better nation. It is not an easy Union but it’s an opportunity for us to build a greater nation and future.
Remember without Goliath, a mere Shepard boy with no skills and knowledge other than being a sherpard, could never be the King of Israel.
This massive fusion of our diverse nation of a thousand tribes and 860 languages into one prosperous nation is a mammoth task and our own Goliath. But it is also an opportunity for us to challenge ourselves to foster a respectful, tolerant and grateful country where we can all thrive together to build a prosperous future.
How wonderful it would be when we overcome all our stereotypes and inhibitions that we have against each other. It will be like David has slain Goliath who had been tormenting the Israelites for so long. So here, we have an opportunity to show equality, to allow freedom, and show true democracy where all tribes and languages have a stake at the table. It has been painful, tragic and a long journey, but let us be confident that we will prosper after today and we will secure a greater future with Bougainville still having a strong place and role in our stride to prosperity.
Congratulations to Sir Puka Temu and all the leaders who have shaped this journey since the Peace Agreement, up to this historical day. Let us be confident about the future, as a unique rainbow nation of a thousand tribes and 860 plus languages. Together, we are stronger!