Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare is known to the Tolai’s, as ToPalangat.
He was born in Matupit, East New Britain Province, and was admitted into the Tubuan Society.
Because of this, they honored his involvement and performed a ritual reserved for big men.
In the words of the spokesperson Dr. Jacob Simet, it would not have been right to return his body, without performing the appropriate rites over him.
“We’re stand to honor this man that we knew as ToPalangat, for his membership in the Tubuan society since his birth and when he was a young boy. This kind of ritual is only done for men of high status.” Dr Simet said.
Michael Somare was born in East New Britain, in 1936 and was admitted into the Tubuan Society as a small boy.
Dr. Jacob Simet, who spoke on behalf of the Tolai’s described ToPalangat’s birth in Rabaul, and admittance into the Tubuan Society as providence.
“It would not have been right for us to return his body without performing the necessary and appropriate rites over him”
Prior to self government and independence, the Gazelle people were politically divided- caught between wanting independence, remaining with Australia, or delaying the process.
For several years, they were split and eventually sought from outside parties. This was when Sir Michael Somare, a young politician and a member of the Tubuan society intervened.
“Secondly, we’ve come because of what he did for us, what we believe we would have not done without his involvement, his directives and his wisdom.
“He put his foot down and sent Sir Rabbie Namaliu to Rabaul to solve our problems.
“He took a further step to cement the relationship and said, we are going to look at what you can offer towards self government and independence.
“This is why we’ve come to honor our big man, the man we call ToPalangat Somare during this time that he has passed and to honor his burial.”
Topalangat Somare was honored as a member of the Tubuan Society, and for uniting a divided people.