Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Welcome to Goroka


 Legendary kiap (patrol officer) and Highlands Highway builder Bob Cleland returned to Goroka and Eastern Highlands for the first time since he left in 1976, last Saturday (April 28).

Cleland was feted like royalty the moment he stepped onto the tarmac in Goroka, on which he first set foot on 59 years ago in 1953.
Asaro mudmen and other Eastern Highlands dancers welcomed him back to Goroka, and he was greeted by senior provincial government officials including outgoing provincial administrator MunareUyassi, as blind children from the Mt Sion School for the Blind outside Goroka sang that famous and movingGoroka anthem “Welcome to Goroka”.
Cleland, now aged 81, was clearly overwhelmed by the welcome.

Our good friend BOB CLELAND being presented an Eastern Highlands flag by outgoing provincial administrator MUNARE UYASSI on Saturday. For those who don't know, Cleland was the one who designed the Nokondi motif on this flag.Nokondi is the fabled spirit who had one eye, one ear, one leg and one testicle.Cleland, who supervised the building of the Asaro-Watabung section of the Highlands Highway in 1953, was executive officer of the Eastern Highlands Area Authority (which became the Eastern Highlands provincial government in 1977) from 1975-1976,The new authority needed a common seal, and when Cleland asked members what was something traditional covering the whole Eastern Highlands, they quickly decided on Nokondi.That same image is at the centre of today’s Eastern Highlands provincial flag

The reception committee

Welcome to Goroka

Flowers for a hero

From left are National Gaming Control Board CEO Edward Mike Jondi, Cleland and Uyassi

Uyassi has a yarn with Cleland

The man of the moment!

A side view

A phalanx of traditional dancers

Welcome to Goroka!

This bamboo contains water from Watabung, where Cleland was based in 1953

Students of Mt Sion School for the Blind outside Goroka welcome Cleland with that unforgettable and touching Goroka anthem Welcome to Goroka

Jondi, Cleland's partner Elizabeth Green, Cleland and Uyassi listen to the welcome song

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