Friday, May 3, 2013

A Remarkable Moment

During the Australia Week I had the pleasure, on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, and the University of Papua New Guinea, to host a night of remarkable moment with Dame Carol Kidu, speaking about her life, work, and vision. The talk took place at the Main Lecture Theatre of the UPNG where Dame Carol spoke with the undiminishing passion and affection she has for her family and people.

The PNG Society of Writers, Editors, and Publishers in conjunction with the Australian High Commission initiated the concept and organized the guest lecture, featuring the former politician and MP who had set the bar above, and beyond her peers. It is awe-inspiring to be present in the same space where a person of Dame Carol Kidu is the featured speaker. Part of the appeal is to encourage Papua New Guineans to write for The Crocodile Prize competition.

I had the good fortune of knowing and working with Dame Carol in other professional capacities. Taking on the role of host for her talk is only little I can do to show my respect for someone who is a champion of little people and the rights and plight of urbanites and women. Her simple down-to-earth approach to establishing relationships with those whose paths cross hers has had remarkable impressions on people long after such encounters.

There is respect, envy, and admiration of this person who gave up everything to follow her heart to Papua New Guinea with her boyfriend, who would later become her husband. The man she married, Sir Buri Kidu, would soon become the first Papua New Guinean Chief Justice.

Dame Carol recounts the journey in her first autobiography, A Remarkable Journey, and in her talk at UPNG she reveals more intimate details of the encounter and the journey of her life with her late husband.

“Don’t ask me to choose,” was the preferred title of the book. The reason was that it was the statement that Sir Buri made to Dame Carol during the time they began seeing each other. Sir Buri made no indication as to the question of serious commitment in their relationship during their varsity years at the University of Queensland.  Sir Buri had told Dame Carol that if she asked him to choose between his people and her he would choose his people. Dame Carol thought about it before making her decision to follow him to Papua New Guinea.

In Papua New Guinea Dame Carol recounts the experiences of cultural immersion was taken care off by her mother-in-law. Dame Carol had chosen to follow her heart: Buri Kidu and Papua New Guinea. She had never regretted one moment of that decision.

Dame Carol has so much honor and dignity in her stride that at the passing of her husband, Sir Buri Kidu, she took it on herself to pursue some of the dreams they shared in their partnership. Partly out of respect for her late husband and partly the need to speak about the people she has become part of and they a big part of her life. In their lives she came and settled, become absorbed into social and cultural fabric of the Motu Koitabu society, and made it become hers as well.

Dame Carol Kidu during her talk at MLT, UPNG 2013
Talking about her life during the Australia Week evokes a certain kind of connections and strengthening of existing relationships between the people of Australia and Papua New Guinea. It is one of the most important relationships that exist at both the political and personal level. People from both countries find mutual commonality in various engagements and endeavors, even if historical antecedent is anything to go by.

In her life outside of politics Dame Carol is working at her autobiography, capturing everything, the highs and lows, the leaderships challenges, and the peculiarities of wrestling with power at the male dominant world of politics in PNG.

1 comment:

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