By Edson Kuso
One of the first Papua New Guineans to lower the Australian flag and raise the PNG flag for the first time on the 16th of September 1975 shared his thrilling experience of that day.
Seventy-nine-year-old Lance Corporal Iven Mambi, retired, was among the six members of the disciplinary forces of Papua New Guinea who were given the task of flag bearers on independence day forty-eight years ago.
Mambi was invited by the Madang Provincial Administration to celebrate independence with the people of Madang at the Laiwaden Oval in Madang town.
Hailing from Giri village in Madang’s Bogia district, retired Lance Corporal Mambi was serving as a young officer at the 2nd Royal Pacific Island Regiment in Mom Barracks in Wewak, East Sepik Province. He said they walked from Wewak all the way to Port Moresby for the celebration.
Mambi recalled that during the eve of independence, most of the foreigners left the country, including Wewak and Madang. He said despite the excitement of becoming a sovereign nation, many of them were uncertain and fearful of what was going to happen. Mambi said even the army at that time didn’t know how Australia was going to react to Papua New Guinea gaining independence.
“That time we raised the flag, we were afraid Australians might attack us, and with fear, we raised our flag and lowered theirs. We were on alert when got near the flag pole,” he said.
However, Mambi said because of the wisdom of the founding father Late Grand Chief Somare, PNG got its independence and took control of its resources from the colonizers.
“we are thankful to our founding father Somare who had the wisdom to safeguard our resources. For example, the Wau-Bulolo goldmine, Australians drained it,” he said.
“Because of this, in 1962 when he came to play soccer here he began discussing independence with Sir Imbake Okuk. Imbake Okuk and I were students in Tusbab and Somare was our teacher,” Mambi reflected.