By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio
At the end of 2007 the Konnou Conflict began with factions arising within the constituency itself. The faction known as WILMO (Wisai Liberation Movement), Konnou Freedom Fighters and Mekamui Deference Force (MDF) vied for power and control in the constituency.
The factions broke the constituency into pieces causing confusion in the minds of the people; lack of law and order made the situation worse.
In Early in 2008 the close down of the Buka–Buin Highway ceased services to the area and civilians suffered the most.
Women and children lacked health and education services.
I did not have a choice of freedom so I joined the faction that was domination our area; I had to live with the ones living in the bushes of Leulo Mountain without calculating the consequences of it.
I joined the MDF who were always going to and from of our camp site in the mountains of Kaitu.
By Christmas 2007 I had a message that I was selected to continue to grade 9 at Buin Secondary School. I appreciated the offer but the situation did not allow me to appear at the school.
Buin Freedom Fighters chased some Konnou students at Buin Secondary just before I was to pack my things and go. As soon as I got the message of what was happening in Buin, I turned my back and fully joined the MDF.
In the middle of February 2008, I left everything behind and went to Bishop Wade Secondary School in North Bougainville. I made my choice to get education rather than holding rifles that has no benefit but death at the end. I was fortunate to get registered as a non-selected student in Bishop Wade.
The conflict took almost five years to exist until the peace committee formed by chiefs, church elders, youth leaders and women’s leaders took a stand to end the bloodshed in Konnou.
The negotiation took almost two years with disagreement of all the factions regarding the loss of young people’s lives, both soldiers and civilians. The Konnou Peace Committee finally won the hearts of the fighters in all the factions.
On 29 November 2011, the negotiation between the factions succeeded with the agreement of ending the conflict in Konnou. Early on that day all the factions gathered in Mogoroi with representatives from ABG and the United Nations.
More than 1,000 witnesses from Konnou and other constituencies were present. It was a day of pain, sorrow and happiness as the freedom which the people so longed finally came.
The factions reconciled with forgiveness and humble heats; a monument was planted to mark the day of Konnou reconciliation and the ending of the so called Konnou Conflict. The monument (called IMI in Buin language) was planted as a shrub but now it has grown and can be seen clearly on the Mogoroi road.
Each year the day is remembered and celebrated with events like games, music (pictured:Band member practicing at Moroanamanu Village-Upper Konnou), traditional dances, and remembrance speeches.
This year the constituency will celebrate the 5th anniversary of the peace. The celebration will be marked with the Konnou Peace Cup, with local people compete in sporting competition.
The Member for Konnou, Hon. Willie Masiu, has taken the lead in organising the event and the announcement was hosted at Ugubakogu Primary school. Athletes from both Lower and Upper Konnou are preparing to socialise in games such as volleyball, soccer, marathon, bicycle race and rock show.
“This will be one means of peace and unity in the constituency,” said Maverick one of the athletes. Youth members were glad to see their new member taking the lead in uniting the people through the games.