BY KEITH JACKSON
It was one of those Melanesian sort of arrangements where a matter is generally agreed without being nailed down with final certitude.
So it was around 7.30 pm that, having checked in late, I was wandering around the hotel trying to get my bearings when a tall, good looking man approached me and said: “You must be Keith”.
Reg had been hanging around for the best part of two hours, honouring a vague arrangement with far more loyalty than it deserved. And so we had a beer and dinner and talked about all the things good friends talk about.
Two days later, after the writers workshop and Crocodile Prize awards ceremony at the Australian High Commission – throughout which Reg was a diligent and active participant – I briefly met his wife, Myria (Lulu), an attractive woman in both looks and demeanour. From the way Reg deferred to her, I guessed that I was talking with a real anchor point in a relationship.
A month later, Lulu was dead – killed in the Madang Dash-8 crash, along with 27 other innocents.
Reg Renagi is well known to readers of PNG Attitude. Three year ago he became the first Papua New Guinean to contribute regularly to these columns as both a feature writer and a commentator.
And, in lending his name to all he wrote, he encouraged many other Papua New Guinean writers to do likewise - and if you don't know that that takes courage you don't know PNG.
“I write about certain key strategic issues our government needs to address in PNG’s national interest,” he told readers two years ago. "Concerned citizens have to keep reminding them."
Through his writing – most frequently on matters of government, ethics and defence - he built up a strong and loyal following of readers, who felt here was a man they could have a conversation with – even though they had never met him.
In September 2007, Reg and Lulu had lost their beautiful daughter, Jeannie, after a long illness.
“She failed to respond to the long term regime of medicinal drugs, special diet, family love and support, and left us to meet her maker,” Reg told readers.
“It was such a gut-wrenching experience for an anguished father and a desperate family - watching our beautiful daughter’s life slip away daily in the terminal stages of her illness.
“I miss my daughter terribly and still mourn for her in my quiet moments and say a short prayer for her before I start my day and before I go to sleep each day. The healing will take some time as she was my favourite girl since she was a baby.”
And now tragedy has struck again with extraordinary cruelty – Lulu killed on the way to Divine University in Madang for the graduation ceremony of their son.
We have started The Renagi Appeal to give readers the opportunity, in the most practical way, to express their condolences to Reg, to assure him that we share his grief and to thank Reg for what he has done in the past and for all that he will do.
I hope you’ll see fit to contribute. You can do so by making a deposit to: Keith Jackson BSB 082-302 Account No 50650-1355. In the Description box, mark your gift ‘FOR REG’. And drop me an email