BOUGAINVILLE’s award-winning writer and pre-eminent author, Leonard Fong Roka, is likely to face a court battle over a short story featured in his second collection of short stories, Moments in Bougainville published last year.
Litigation for defamation has been threatened by the family of an ex-girlfriend in Mr Roka’s home area in the Tumpusiong Valley near Panguna.
Mr Roka said that the story, Tongare Love, was a record of his time with a woman he loved and wanted to marry. But her family would not allow it and instead they began to threaten him.
“Yeah, they openly proclaimed across the Panguna District that I was a sex maniac,” Mr Roka recalled. “But I did not take them to court for defamation. They announced I was a drunkard and worthless, and still I did not take them to court.
“They threatened me at home with offensive weapons and still I did not bring them to court for trespassing and harassment. They beat and molested me in public and I ignored that.
“Thugs broke into my home and stole my property while others justified that crime as compensation for befriending their relative. But I did not take any legal action.
“Then the family and members of the church they belonged to announced I was HIV positive but still I did not take them to court.”
Mr Roka said he had to write “something to record my love for her and the reasons why I was trying my best to settle down with her.”
That’s when the girl’s clan members threatened to initiate legal action.
“On our last meeting in 2010, I received verbal consent from the girl to record our tale,” Mr Roka said, “but my mistake was not to have it recorded in black and white.”
Leonard Fong Roka, now a final year student in International Relations at Divine Word University, is the author of two books and now is finishing his third book. Brokenville, a 25 chapter autobiography of his experiences of Bougainville’s crisis years, is undergoing final editing in Australia.
A fourth book, an ethno-political exploration and mapping of the Bougainville conflict and the province’s future, is due ito be published later this year or early in 2015.
“I knew back then the world was against me,” Mr Roka says, “but I have to write. Worst, I am an introvert.”