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14 January 2014


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From Alan Grant – 28 May 2016

In a pathetic enforced retirement situation there is more than enough time to mull over the past.

In Papua New Guinea I had been an agricultural officer (‘didiman’) in PNG since the 1960s, posted all over the country. I had come as a £10 migrant to Oz in 1965, and brought with me a deep love of trad jazz, that is with me to this day.

Anyway, there came a time when seniority at DPI and commitments to projects brought me to Port Moresby.

Between busy rural development tasks and at same time building a 40ft sailing craft, I allowed myself to be talked into being the banjo player in a series of ad hoc jazz bands that proliferated for a time before and just after Independence in 1975.

This disparate group of expat residents came to be called The Port Moresby Jazz Band (I rather think the name was mostly my suggestion).

Our routine involved a Sunday afternoon session at the Four-Mile Club, followed by not much of a break and then the whole evening until late at the Weinkeller, a below-stairs venue at the Gateway Hotel which I think is now a restaurant.

This went on until at least midnight, the clientele mainly expat public servants; goodness knows what state they must have been in next morning for the first day of their working week.

On several of those evenings Carolus came in and joined the band and I recall his rendering of ‘St Louis Blues’ was much appreciated both by we in the band and with the lively audience.

Quite probably it was due to this connection that we later made a jazz programme for the NBC’s Time Out series.
In an extended version of this paper I will transcribe the note I made on my private copy of the cassette tape made from that full day recording session done at Studio 903 at the NBC at 6-Mile on 28 February 1978. A week or two later Pearson Batuna presented that work on air.

I am fortunate to have that tape copy, perhaps the only one in existence unless the NBC can oblige.

Later I met Carolus and his then partner, an Australian, at their place near Tinputz. By then an officer of the NPMA I was involved in redevelopment of a cocoa estate in Buka. Over the years since, I have often thought of Carolus and his family, and what must have been his horrendous situation in Bougainville.

I am remorseful and have regrets that we lost touch.

Carolus Ketsimur was appointed an ABC cadet journalist in 1964, in the second cadet intake after Boe Arua (Papua) and Chris Rangatin (New Ireland).

In 1962 there had been only 14 people with an Intermediate Certificate in PNG, and not many more two years later.

Charlie seemed more like a poet than a journalist. He was soft, quietly spoken, gentle, and seemed intimidated by the thought of interviewing people, especially senior Administration officials.

He loved his music and was never so content as when sitting down with his guitar. It's not surprising that he left journalism and sought a business career based on his music.

It is tragic that he can be counted as one of the lives lost to the Bougainville dispute.

He can be counted as such. During the civil war, Charlie had to flee and hide in the bush in fear of his life. This left him very ill and its after-effects left him greatly vulnerable in his remaining years - KJ

I am also getting interested in this work for it is a need in Bougainville.

I hope family members could help salvage the work.

Carolus was working on a novel about 'blackbirding', the kidnapping of islanders for the Queensland sugar cane fields just before he died. A chapter was published in the 2011 Crocodile Anthology.

It would be a fitting tribute to him if this book could be published.

Do any of his relatives know what happened to the manuscript?

Carolus and Julie gave my daughter a little job in the store when she went to them for a holiday. Sunny loved it and loved doing the money part.

She has ended up in banking, although it is in engineering IT, not money. RIP you lovely man.

Always soft spoken he is indeed one of our greatest in radio and his passion for cocoa acknowledged. We will all miss him.

I'm greatly saddened by the death of Carolus Ketsimur. He was one of the first Papua New Guineans to join the ABC (9PA) in 1962 as a cadet journalist. Everyone liked "Charlie". He was a lovely bloke and so talented. He will be greatly missed.

Sad. Interesting account of a great citizen who had done a lot for his province and Papua New Guinea.

69 is still young but God knows best, we all will one day retire our earthly jackets for an immortal body.

Our prayers to his family and his friends everywhere.

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