Posts Categorized: Siwai

Joining the Tonu Defence Academy

By Shallum Tabea

Shallum D. Tabea is from Bana district in South Bougainville has written this article about his experiences in Tonu Defence Academy in Siwai District.


After withdrawing from Divine Word University in 2012 I decided to join the recruits of the Royal Bougainville Military Defence Forces. I was then enlisted into the basic recruit training programme in March 2014 after going through the medical examination test conducted at Tonu.

The recruits come from different parts of Bougainville and PNG. It is a military training programme conducted yearly and eligible youths from across the region who meet the criteria of the recruitment process undergo three to six months of training and then pass out at the Tonu Defence Academy.

791-tonu-defence-academyThough being the centre of many critiques, very little is known and accurately written about the Tonu Defence Academy.  No media wish to enter the Zone in Tonu regardless of much news worthy events and progress that take place there and so very little is known throughout Bougainville and Papua New Guinea.

In the first week of the training we went through a mind healing seminar that is broadly facilitated by pastors. After the mind healing teaching we went straight through the training process that includes physical training and theory lectures.  The training is very tough and one has to be physically fit in order to get on the boots.  Some of the recruits have to withdraw in the second and third weeks due to the brutal training regime.

As recruits, we were told we have to follow orders from officers of higher rank without question.

Each day we woke up as early as 0400hrs and marched to the chapel for morning devotions for spiritual development and again at 1800hrs for evening devotions. The devotion also provides the arena for the trainees to give testimonies of some are very heart touching testifying how the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) brutally beat them but God was there to save them from the barrel of the gun during the Bougainville crisis.

At the morning and evening devotion recruits recite the Military Prayer, which is;

“Almighty and everlasting God. By whose grace thy servants enable to fight the good fight of faith and ever proved victorious. Help us to think wisely, to speak rightly, resolve bravely, act kindly and to live purely. Bless us in body and in soul, strengthen us in life, comfort us in thy hour of death. For the sake of thy son Jesus Christ our Lord of lords and the King of kings. Amen.”

791-parade-tonuIt is a training intended to instil discipline into the force and to promote good order in the communities throughout Bougainville.

The training is broad and is not confined only on domestic internal areas but it excels beyond the boundaries in meeting internationally recognized standard of training. Apart from physical training the program covers specific areas in international law and leadership skills training,

After passing out as privates, some of our personnel are dispatched to other centres on the Island. Currently several of our boys are providing security at the recently opened Aropa Airport in Central Bougainville.

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Irimakoto ceremony mends wounds of the Siwai Crisis

By Eleanor Maineke

685-siwai-bra-resistance The former BRA’s from the Motuna/Huyono/Tokunutui areas shaking hands with the formers resistance from the Kopi and Ramu Constituency. The women were also present to witness the ritual reconciliation

The Siwai Crisis was one of the major local civil wars during the 10 year Bougainville conflict and it saw the fall of some prominent Siwai leaders. It is an important chapter of the overall history Bougainville.

Siwai leaders were a key stakeholder in the politicisation of the mine conflict into the broader Bougainville crisis and the subsequent mobilization of the rest of Bougainville into the guerrilla war.

The civil war in Siwai war spilled over into Nagovisi, Buin, Torokina, Manetai, Kieta and the Solomon Islands. It also deepened the Bougainville Crisis, especially in Central and South Bougainville. The effects of the Siwai crisis and its impact on the Bougainville crisis as a whole is still being felt today.

Mihmihyetu - Traditional warrior peace dance of admittance & acceptance Mihmihyetu – Traditional warrior peace dance of admittance & acceptance

The people of Siwai have worked tirelessly to end the long standing division within the district which was caused by the conflict and separated clans and families.

The establishment of the Siwai District Peace & Security Committee (DPSC) on the 17th of September last year (2014) helped the leaders in the district continue the work of mediation and reconciliation. The Siwai DPSC, which is chaired by the Executive Manager Mr. Martin Tumuki, is financed by the Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP), formerly known as the Panguna Peace Building Program (PPBS).

685-betel-nut-exchange 685-betel-nut-reconciliation

The Siwai customary mediation process basically comprises of five sequential steps, which would be followed by all conflicting parties (victims and offenders) under the facilitation of a neutral mediation team.

On the 21st of November 2015 the Ceremonial gathering of Irimakoto eventuated at the Rabaulu Primary School grounds. The ceremony saw the former Bougainville Revolutionary Army soldiers and the former Resistance fighters come together in preparation for consultation with the Central Region Command.


More than 200 men, women and children witnessed the ceremony. Irimakoto is a form of trust building where the conflicting parties will work together towards the Traut session or the Singsingketu ceremony, where there is the highest form of debating and analysing to reach the common goal of the people of Bougainville.

685-siwai-conflict-reconciliationPresent at the ceremony was the ABG’s Finance Minister and Member for Motuna/Huyono/Tokunutui Constituency, Honourable Albert Punghau. BPBP’s Acting Program Manager, Mr.Steven Sonnei was also present and he gave a very inspirational speech as an advocate of peace and a peacebuilder.

A call for unity was made to the people of Siwai.

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Mass reconciliation as people put Siwai Crisis behind them

687-katukuh-siwaiBy Eleanor Maineke

It was an historic day for the people of Konga, Ruhwaku, and Rataiku & Mukakuru in the Siwai District of South Bougainville as what were once divisions between these people were bridged through the peace reconciliation of the 559 unresolved cases at the Katukuh Primary School.

The peace ceremony was initiated by the people of Katukuh, Konga, Ruhwaku and Mukakuru and supported by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), the Office of the Bougainville Affairs and Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP).

687-tosihsih-siwaiThe aftermath of the Siwai Crisis was seen and felt by generations. Those who cannot feel it, see the differences amongst the people. Those who cannot see it can feel the tense atmosphere around the people. Innocent lives were lost and property destroyed in the year 1996 and there were casualties from both ends.

After 19 years, these people chose to put all differences aside, to seek forgiveness and to find peace with each other. Tears were shed as the victims and the perpetrators shook hands for the first time.

687-siwai-reconciliation-momisThe ceremonial event moved the crowd of more than 700 people. Also present to witness the ceremony was the ABG Delegation comprising of the Minister for Police and Correctional Services and the Member for Konnou Constituency, Hon. William Masiu; the Minister for Education and the Member for Ramu, Hon. Thomas Pa’ataku; and the Minister for Health and the Member for Bolave Constituency, Hon. Dennis Lokonai.

The keynote speaker was the ABG President, Dr. Chief John Momis. Others present include representatives from the NGOs such as the UN, BPBP and other stakeholders.

687-katukuh-primary-schoolPrior to this mass reconciliation, there was a smaller reconciliation within Katukuh and Konga. The people in these villages saw the need to reconcile its own people and find peace before reconciling with others.

In her address, the United Nations representative Christine Moiyo thanked the people for the great initiative and urged the women to be more involved in such activities. The member for Kopi constituency, Philip Kuhena said that with this peace, the people can now work together towards the main goal which is the referendum.

687-siwai-reconciliation-tosihsihThe District Peace & Security Committee, along with the leaders thanked the ongoing support from the government and also the willingness of the people to be part in the ceremony. They urged the people to dispose the negative and ill feelings of each other and to take the ceremony meaningfully.

The event was broadcasted live from the New Dawn FM and the Radio Ples Lain.

The victims spoke out to the ABG and those present that their loved ones be given proper burial.

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Intricacies of the traditional bride price payment in Siwai

By Joel Tauko


The Siwai people have a distinct culture in which they honour as part of their life and identity.

One feature of this culture is that before a man and woman can be declared as husband and wife, there has to be a bride price payment. This is fundamental to the people of Siwai.

When a child is born the tribe the elders, especially his relatives, have to make arrangements with another tribal group for a future marriage. The child will be expected to fulfil this obligation to marry the member of the other tribe.

Once the groom-to-be reaches adulthood his parents will go and negotiate with the relatives of the bride before putting forth traditional shell money (mimis) to get confirmation of the proposal. In more recent times this offering has generally involved a reasonable amount of money as well.

The lady will then be asked by her own parents whether to agree or not.

If the lady agrees then they will hand in the traditional shell money as a deposit or a part payment with some food.

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